For most of us, it’s a lot easier to swap in one small good-for-you habit on occasion than completely overhaul the way we eat.
Based on recent research, any or all of the following seven strategies will help do just that, to reshape the food choices you make on a daily basis. So before you know it, in a month, two months or six months, you’ll be eating in ways that put your fiftysomething body in much better shape.
1. Cook at home. A lot. Keep it simple.
Fast food takes the worst rap, but dining at any restaurant can do a number on weight and health. When researchers analyzed restaurant offerings in three cities — Boston, San Francisco and Little Rock, Ark. — the average meal delivered a whopping 1,200 calories. And that’s not counting beverages or the bread basket.
“Large portions, free bread and perhaps the disinhibiting effect of alcohol can lead us to overeat by quite a lot when dining out,” says lead study researcher Susan B. Roberts, a senior scientist and director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at Tufts University.
Trouble is, routinely eating 1,200-calorie meals is not a good choice for aging bodies that already need fewer calories. So why not cook the same style dishes at home, but with a healthier twist?
High levels of saturated fat in red meat can raise the risk for heart disease and stroke, and even lean cuts can be a problem.
“You’re going to save at least 450 calories, maybe more,” says Brierley Wright, a registered dietitian and nutrition editor at Eating Well.
Do some meal planning early in the week, stash quick-fix foods in the panty or use weekend time to cook big-batch meals. “If you do some of the prep work in advance you’re more likely to cook at home,” says Wright.