We're not going to lie. Eating healthily after 50 requires effort on two fronts: boosting your intake of good-for-you foods such as berries, leafy greens, whole grains and lean proteins while cutting out the foods that clog your arteries and oh-so-easily expand your waistline.
When it comes to the latter, focus less on making certain foods verboten (who doesn’t suddenly want chocolate when told never to eat it?) and more on how your health is more important than the sugar spike or instant gratification they offer. When possible, just say no — or at least “Whoa!” — to the following.
1. Fried foods that triple the calories
If it helps, pause to imagine the vat of oil that basket of fries or onion rings has been submerged in, and consider how its saturated fat “may have a negative impact on blood cholesterol,” says Amy Gorin, a plant-based dietitian and owner of Plant Based With Amy in Stamford, Connecticut. Not sure how to cut back? Here are three expert tips.
- Christine Rosenbloom, a registered dietitian and nutritionist and coauthor of Food & Fitness After 50, says that because frying tends to triple the calories in foods, you should invest in an air fryer. (She swears by hers.)
- Alicia Ines Arbaje, M.D., associate professor of medicine and director of transitional care research at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, says to save your fats for dinner and to avoid them at breakfast and lunch.
- Thomas Loepfe, M.D., a geriatrician at the Mayo Clinic, says, “Go with grilled, not fried.”
Bottom line: Get the side salad instead of restaurant fries. And when you’re looking at labels, consider that “a 200-calorie serving of food should have no more than 2 grams of saturated fat,” says Nancy Farrell Allen, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
2. Sugary drinks, including most bottled teas
Soft drinks aren’t your only enemy. Bottled teas, fancy coffee drinks and “fresh” lemonades can all be loaded with the sweet stuff. “For example, the 16-ounce chai latte at Starbucks, one of its most popular drinks, has 42 grams of sugar,” Rosenbloom says.