After I turned 50, the post-menopasal pounds started piling on. I pretended to exercise by buying an expensive membership to an equally expensive gym, and I kept on eating pretty much whatever I wanted. A perfect "Post-50 Perfect Storm" was in the works.
Luckily I got hold of my senses and decided that moving my body more and changing what I ate was the smart solution. The end result was that I lost the 15 lbs. I had gained, and six years later, they haven't come back. What did I do?
Simple: I gave up a few things and replaced them with foods that are better for me, and in most cases, more delicious. But, don't view this as a diet, because it's not. Eating certain foods instead of others has become a way of life for me, and I find that as I inch my way towards my late 50s I have more energy, stamina, and strength than I did before.
Try your best to remove these foods from your kitchen and your body. None of them have any real nutritional value, and all of them can wreak havoc with your metabolism and blood sugar level, possibly causing you to gain weight, or at the very least, stop you from losing any. But, whatever you eat, make sure you keep an eye on portions.
- Sugar and high fructose corn syrup: Both can make you fat, offer empty calories, mess up your blood sugar level and metabolism, ruin your teeth, affect your mood, and offer zero health benefits. They're in a shocking percentage of foods, so check labels carefully. Instead, try honey or agave syrup, and wean yourself away from making these overly sweet.
- Artificial sweeteners: Sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and any "diet" foods that list these as ingredients are trouble. Ironically, people who are overweight are the largest consumers of foods that contain these chemicals. And they're sneaky: they fool your brain into thinking that real sugar is being consumed, your blood sugar level drops, and the cycle continues. Diet sodas are the biggest culprit. Instead, stop drinking sweet drinks, like soda, and drink lots of water, green tea, or fruit juices mixed with sparkling water.
- White flour: This includes white bread, regular pizza and pasta, most cookies, cakes, pies, donuts and anything made with white flour. Decades ago companies stripped away the important and healthy parts of the wheat kernel--the bran and the germ--because factory bakers found that this "refined flour" was easier to work with and prolonged shelf life of the flour and products made with it. To offer any nutritional value at all, the bran and the wheat germ must be left intact. Instead, eat whole grain, whole wheat breads and desserts, and use whole wheat flour when doing your own baking. Many people mix whole wheat and white flour together, as they're getting used to the change.
- Processed foods: I saved the worst for last. Processed foods are loaded with fats, salt and ingredients that aren't even pronounceable. One of the best things gifts you could give yourself is a vow to stop buying (very expensive!) and eating processed foods. Instead, commit to eating 'whole foods'--those foods that are close to their natural state, such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains, beans, eggs, and fish, poultry and meats and are prepared without any additives or modifications. A serving of grilled salmon would be considered a whole food, but fish sticks are not.
And remember this: We can't control getting older . . . but . . . we can control how we do it.
I want to hear from you! Leave your questions and ideas for living your best life after 50 in the comments section below. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and, of course, my blogs on AARP.org and www.bestofeverythingafter50.com. And please let me know what you'd like to see in future episodes of "The Best of Everything After 50"³! Thanks for reading and watching!
- Superfood Kale Fuels Good Health
- 8 Foods We Eat That Other Countries Ban
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more