Eat The Right Foods For Your Age
Whether you’re in your 20’s, 30’s or 50’s, the fundamental rule of a healthy diet remains the same – however, your lifestyle doesn’t! It’s pretty undisguised that we eat differently at different stages of our life. Who can forget their student diet of pasta, canned sauces and caffeine marathons during a revision crisis?Your 20’s can be a disorganized whirlwind of working hard, playing even harder and lack time to look after yourself properly. Staying late at work when you’re building your career and the usual drunken nights out with your friends don’t leave a lot of time to prepare a healthy and balanced dish for a lot of us.In your 30s, you have to deal with various commitments – such as taking your career to the next level or starting a family – so again, eating the right foods for your age might not be the focus point in your mind.In your 40s, you have to acknowledge the aspect of what you can do to brace your body for the future – there’s wrinkles to be kept at bay and bones to be strengthened, so your diet should take a different focus altogether.Luckily for you, we have done the hard work for you and assembled an effortless guide on how to eat right for your ‘decade’. Hopefully these will help you stay healthy whatever your age, whatever you’re up to!For your chaotic 20s:When in your 20s, eating healthily can be far-fetched priority on your long list of things to do. According to The National Diet and Nutrition Survey, a high percentage of women in this age band failed to meet the suggested daily intake of several key nutrients, including calcium, folic acid and iron. Only 4% of women aged 19-24 meet the 5-a-day target for fruit and veg.Many ‘twenty-somethings’ get into bad habits of neglecting breakfast, which means they miss out on a key opening to up their fibre intake. A low fibre intake can result in an increase the risk of bowel disease later in life.Because our bones are still growing up to our late 20s, it’s also really important to squeeze in calcium at this stage to reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis as an adult.People in their 20’s also have a tendency to eat lots of salty and sweet foods (our dual Doritos and chocolate addiction come to mind) which can in turn lead to increased blood pressure and put you at risk of developing heart disease later in life.Eat right for your age:Up your intake of:
- Fibre: The best way of doing this is just to make time for breakfast everyday. A great start to the day is fortified wholegrain cereal with semi skimmed milk and a glass of fruit juice. This combo doesn’t take long to prepare and will provide you with a high dose of fibre and several key vitamins to make you feel ready for whatever the day brings!
- Calcium: To get your required amount of calcium, you need to eat 3 servings from the dairy group each day (1 serving = 200ml milk e.g. 1 small pot yogurt or 30g of cheese). If you don’t eat dairy products, get your calcium by drinking drinks such as Tropicana calcium-enriched Orange Juice.
Lower your intake of:
- Salt: Check nutritional content on the back of the pack before you buy ready meals or sandwiches – aim for a main meal should be no more than 2.5g salt (and no more than 6g a day).
- Sugar: Although there is no universally agreed recommendation for each individual’s daily sugar intake, the World Health Organisation and the Food Standards Agency say that no more than 200-250 calories (or 10%) should come from processed sugar, including sugar found in fruit juice. One bowl of cereal may contain a quarter of your daily sugar allowance and a single can of Coca-Cola contains eight teaspoons of sugar – so keep an eye on the amount of treats you have!
- Microwave meals: The two baddies above make a regular appearance in microwave meals (75% of salt in our diet is provided by microwave meals and processed foods) so even though they are convenient, try not to rely on them – they are quick fixes and definitely no investment in your health.
- Alcohol: try not to jump on the bandwagon too frequently, your recommended daily allowance is 2-3 units, so make sure you alternate your drinks with a glass of water and eat before you go out.
Busy bee 30s:When you’re in your 30s you need to start investing in your body’s future and easing up a bit on some of the bad habits you may have picked up in your hectic 20’s. A diet rich in antioxidants will help protect against problems such as Alzheimers, heart disease, certain types of cancer and cataracts.If you’re thinking about starting a family, your diet will be most important. For example, folic acid is especially important for women planning to become pregnant, because it helps to prevent against threatening diseases such as spina bifida which can cause paralysis.Eat right for your age:Up your intake of:
- Exercise: In your 30s it’s easy to still take your good health for granted, and exercise is often a case of “tomorrow” rather than today! But as we grow older, good nutrition and regular exercise should become even more important – now is the time to invest in your future good health. Obviously exercising will also help you look great and feel fabulous!
- Antioxidants: Fruit and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants – don’t give yourself any excuse to miss your 5-a-day minimum. For maximum benefit, vary the fruit and veg that you choose.
- Folic Acid: Sources of folate include oranges, dark green leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals (these often also include iron).
Lower your intake of:
- Caffeine: Swap your morning coffee for a healthy cup of decaffeinated tea, packed with antioxidants. Research suggests decaffeinated green tea can lower the risk of cancer and heart disease and may also boost your metabolism.
WOMEN IN YOUR 40s PLUS…Trustingly you will have already put in the foundation for a healthy middle age by eating well and exercising regularly during your 20s and 30s! But this is still not the time to get slack with your good habits! Even those skinny minnies can find it harder to shift weight when they reach their 40s, and excess weight can increase the risk of health problems like osteoarthritis, heart disease and diabetes.By delaying fixing the problem will just make things worse and will make exercise that bit harder – the sooner you tackle any excess weight the better!One in four women in their 40s have low iron stores, which can cause them to feel tired for no reason, so it’s vital that you up your iron intake if you want to enjoy an active life.There is some good news for 40+ ladies though: alcohol (in moderation) can help to keep the heart healthy, hurrah! Don’t exceed safe guidelines though, particularly with home-poured measures. We know from experience that these can way exceed professional measures, without you even realising!Eat right for your age:Up your intake of:
- Exercise: Yep, still important now, just as it was when you were younger! After the age of 40, the metabolic rate (the speed at which the body burns calories) drops. However, the drop is very slight – the main cause of the dreaded “middle-aged spread” is lack of exercise. So there’s no excuse!
- Iron: The best sources of iron are liver and lean red meat, so try to get at least two portions of red meat twice a week. Huge portions aren’t necessary – about 100g is enough. If you’re veggie or vegan, eat lots of green leafy veg and choose a fortified breakfast cereal instead.
Lower your intake of:
- Calories: As your metabolism slows down, you don’t need to give your body the same amount of fuel, because it doesn’t use up nutrients in the way it once did. If you carry on eating like you did in your 20s, your body will store too much, mostly as fat!