The aging process varies from person to person and depends on various factors, such as genetics and lifestyle choices. One thing that is consistent, however, is that lean tissue (your muscles and organs) begins to shrink through a process called atrophy, where cells shrink in size. In turn, fat goes up steadily, especially around the center of the body, and combined with a slowing metabolism, you’ll most likely experience weight gain.
One way to combat the aging process is through keeping a healthy lifestyle—especially when it comes to your diet. If you’re not following the Jenny Craig program, here are a few diet changes you should make when you’re 40 to help deter weight gain:
· Eat regular meals—and snack, too. If you’ve been one to typically skip meals, now is the time to commit to eating three meals with snacks in between. Skipping meals makes you more susceptible to eating higher calorie foods, especially when you’re on the go and fast food options are everywhere. So, make sure to eat and have healthy snacks on hand to keep your blood sugar even to avoid an energy crash later.
· Eat healthy fiber. Foods that are high in fiber help keep you fuller longer, and can help with weight maintenance. Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are high in fiber, and vegetables and fruits are also high in water content. Some delicious vegetables to start with are carrots, broccoli, leafy greens (spinach, kale) peppers and onions.
· Eat lean protein. Protein can help with muscle health. Your protein choices also contribute to your overall health, such as the omega-3s from fish, which helps with heart health. Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish, legumes and Greek yogurt, but also keep an eye out for how they are prepared, as each preparation adds calories, too. When it comes to preparations, look out for words like “grilled” and “baked” and limit choosing the “fried” option.
· Drink plenty of water, and monitor other drinks. Water flushes your system and helps nutrients circulate around your body to help with normal bodily functions. Keep an eye out for how many alcoholic beverages you may be consuming, too, as those can be calorie-laden choices. If you are going to drink, consider using seltzer water as your mixer, and have a glass of water next to you to ensure you’re hydrated.
· Know your portion sizes. While choosing leaner, lower calorie foods is great, it may all get thrown off by overindulging. For example, you may have a square of dark chocolate, but if you know that once you have one square you typically eat a whole bar, then that’s something to be mindful over. If you find that you’re still hungry even after eating your portioned-out meal, consider drinking water since hunger can sometimes be mistaken for thirst, or bulking up on more vegetables since they are low in calories.
These diet changes are all wonderful places to start, but remember that your overall lifestyle plays a role in how aging affects you. Stress and lack of movement may allow signs of aging to become more prevalent, so find ways to deal with stress and move more throughout the day. Whether you’re making these changes earlier or later than 40, the important thing is that you’re starting now to help your body stay strong, healthy and active to experience all life has to offer.
Edited by Kari - Jenny Craig