By the time you’re 35, you’ve probably lived a bit: maybe done some travelling, finished most of your schooling, even gotten your own place to live. You might even have kids of your own, and if you’re not setting a good food example for them, you might want to think about making some changes.
Now’s the time to be a grown up with your nutrition!
It’s in your 30s that the choices you make really start impacting your overall wellness and lifestyle: your metabolism is starting to slow and it’s easier to put weight on and harder to take it off; it’s tougher to bounce back from a night of drinking; and suddenly, you can’t actually function on a diet of coffee and lettuce. You’re also in your earning years, and with all that time working, your time for exercise is likely pretty short. You’re realizing that you can’t get away with having the eating habits of a teenager anymore.
Welcome to being an adult! Isn’t aging wonderful?
If you’re past 35 but still have nutrition and food habits that you think are hurting your health – and by health I mean physical AND/OR emotional – it’s never too late to work on them. Some habits are harder to break, some might even be impossible – but I think awareness of how they impact our health is essential. We ALL have unhealthy eating habits of some sort – even me.
Here’s the four habits that aren’t worth keeping:
Fighting your healthy weight
Haven’t you dieted enough to realize that avoiding carbs altogether always ends up in a rebound binge for you, or that your goal weight of 120lb is completely unrealistic, or that you’re wasting your time and energy punishing yourself for the measly two pounds that you keep losing and gaining back?
Stop! Let’s talk.
As we age, we tend to gain weight because our metabolic rates slow, we generally have less time for exercise because, well, jobs and kids…and also, the composition of our bodies changes. We accumulate and store more fat, and lose more lean muscle. Older muscle doesn’t repair itself as efficiently as younger muscle, and for some reason, our muscles actually shrink as we age. So our calorie-burning tissues dwindle, leaving us sort of behind the eight-ball. There’s also a genetic component.
Some things can be changed – such as building more lean muscle, and eating more whole foods. You can’t change genetics, or, unfortunately, your age.
So take that into consideration when you look at how much you want to weigh and the possibilities of that happening.
Most importantly, you also want to weigh the physical and emotional cost of constantly trying to diet those last few pounds away, versus nourishing your body and mind with the right foods and activity and accepting that you might be at your healthy weight. Speaking about dieting, don’t underestimate the importance of a good attitude towards food and eating. A lot how we perceive food is formed when we’re very young, and if you have longstanding difficulties with your feelings towards food and your body, you might want to discuss these with a professional and get them out of your life once and for all. Ingrained attitudes about food and eating from long ago can have a tremendous impact on how we eat now. Don’t punish your body. It loves you; love it back.
Overindulging because you’re on vacation
I totally understand being on vacation and wanting to indulge in things you don’t get to have in your normal life. I’m a huge believer in immersing yourself in the local culture – especially the food – when you’re in a different country. But using your vacation as an excuse to drink your face off and grab every dessert in sight just because it’s there, is not a good idea.
Not only will you feel like crap; you’ll also probably have to deal with extra pounds when you get home. That makes the post-vacation letdown so much worse, as if it didn’t suck already!
Keep healthy snacks and if possible, breakfast options in your hotel room. If your room doesn’t have a minibar that you can refrigerate food in, the hotel might be able to provide you with a small fridge for that purpose: just ask! Having healthy breakfast options to fall back on when you’re away from home can start your day right and help keep you fit and well on vacation.
Not cooking for yourself when you’re by yourself
I have had so many clients tell me over the years that when they’re alone (either they live alone, or they’re alone when their partner is travelling or out), they don’t think it’s worth it to cook a meal for themselves. They just have a bag of microwave popcorn for dinner, because yeah. It’s not worth it to turn on the stove.
Except, COME ON PEOPLE!!! WHAT!?
We all used to eat popcorn or a bowl of cereal for dinner. That is, before we grew out of it and realized that whether we’re alone or not alone, we are worth the time and effort – it’s a minimal effort, too – that it takes to make a balanced, delicious meal. Don’t give me the ‘I’m not worth it’ BS. You’re SO worth it.
Go buy yourself some fresh seasonal vegetables, or hell – pull those frozen ones out of the freezer. Grab a beautiful piece of fish for one at the store on the way home from work. Panfry the fish, steam or roast the vegetables, and there: now you can sit down and enjoy your healthy meal-for-one.
Doesn’t it feel nice to treat yourself properly?
Not being mindful about your eating
As I said above, you’re probably really busy. But jamming food into your mouth while you sit at your desk (or at the dinner table) is neither healthy nor smart. I know you’ve heard about mindfulness and it can be a great tool to help you manage your diet. When we’re distracted, we’re much more likely to eat more. Haven’t you ever eaten way too much popcorn during an exciting movie? Yeah, me too.
Take the time to shut your computer or phone off – or get away from them – when you eat. If you want a snack while you’re binge-watching season 5 of House of Cards, portion it out instead of stuffing yourself with the entire bag or carton. And even though we’ve all been guilty of eating in the car, stop that. It’s mindless AND you’re going to get into an accident, so have a snack before you leave work for the day, or take the time to have breakfast before you leave the house. You deserve that instead of the stress of eating on the run.
Be mindful of the beauty of food and what it can do for your body. Instead of thinking of food as just calories or points, admire its flavour, beauty and purpose.
We all have our bad nutrition and food habits. But treating yourself with respect and love, working through your old stuff, and being more mindful are essentials for a happier, healthier life.