How to maintain a healthy diet after 50
A good diet is a very important thing to maintain at any point in life. No doubt we all have happy memories of gorging on sweets and treats as a child - only to find our metabolism starts protesting this kind of intake when we reach adulthood!
The average life expectancy has been on the rise for some time now - and healthy eating can help to ensure the quality of life keeps up.
One of the key things to remember about keeping to a healthy diet is that the requirements change as we age. New healthy habits may have to be adopted to stay as healthy as possible as we enjoy later years.
Changing food requirements
The rate at which you burn calories in food and drink - the metabolic rate - slows down as you age. This means that the extra calories are more likely to be stored as fat, rather than burned as energy.
It's easy to gain weight as you grow older as the body's composition changes. Muscle tissue is lost and fat tissue is gained, which leads to a reduction in energy requirements.
Being one of the main reasons for age-related weight gain, this can be combated by adjusting diet and exercising more often.
Watch your weight
Serious health risks are associated with excess weight, such as heart disease, stroke, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.
The British Nutrition Foundation warns that these risks are higher for men with a waist circumference larger than 37 inches, or 31.5 inches for women.
Keeping an eye on you weight as you get older becomes more important, as it is easier for it to gradually increase without you noticing.
You'll obviously need fewer calories over the age of 50 than you would in your 20s and 30s. One of the best ways of ensuring your diet is suitable is by ensuring it is balanced.
This requires a mix of the five main food groups - the first two being fruit and vegetables and starchy foods like rice, pasta, bread and potatoes.
Meat, fish, eggs and beans can be grouped together, with dairy foods forming a fourth group and fats and sugars last.
Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is a good yardstick, while meals can be based around starchy items. Plenty of water should be drunk, while most people can afford to cut down on their fat and sugar intake.
Links between diet and exercise
The amount of food you are able to eat without putting on weight is linked to how much exercise you do.
Avoiding overeating and increasing the amount of physical activity you participate in is a great way to maintain control of your weight.
One common recommendation is to try to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week, regardless of whether this is in one bout of activity or spread out through the day.
For suggestions more closely tailored to your personal requirements, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Keep things enjoyable and varied
While the above points are important considerations, this does not mean you can't enjoy yourself.
Food should still be as appealing and enjoyable as possible - so try experimenting with new flavours in your cooking by adding different combinations of herbs and spices to dishes, or varying colours and textures if you can.
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