This is the first of a six-part series on the health risks we face after the age of 40. The leading cause of death in women after 40 is cancer, heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes. If you intend to be here for the long haul, 40 is a perfect time to look at the root of these diseases and reevaluate your current eating habits.
Diet or Lack of Diet
We are starting with our diet, because we’ve all heard, we are what we eat. 40 is the right time to take a hard look at our current diet or lack of in some cases. It is important to realize that our dietary needs change in our 40’s. As a result of hormonal changes, women over 40 begin to experience weight gain in their mid sections. This is not the place we want to gain weight as it is linked to heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For this reason, the best plan for maintaining a healthy weight in our 40 plus is to focus on a diet that is full of whole grains, fresh food, and lean protein.
What to Eat
- Lots of high-quality lean protein like organic eggs, chicken, grass fed beef and wild fish. For a change, try a tasty plant-based source such as freekeh, seitan or quinoa.
- Fresh fruits, watch the serving size because they are loaded with natural sugars, the recommended serving size is 1 1/2 cups for women 40 plus.
- Fresh vegetables.
- Whole grains, for example, oats, barley, whole-grain couscous, brown rice, quinoa, millet, and sprouted whole-grain bread.
- Starchy vegetables like potatoes, corn, and yams
- Legumes like black beans, peas, and pinto beans.
- Healthy fats found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts.
What Not to Eat
Highly processed foods and refined food products. Such as white bread, baked goods, frozen dinner and snacks, and fast food. Moreover, these foods are loaded with excess fat, hidden sugars, and sodium with very little beneficial nutrient.
We are Not Perfect
It is important to realize; we are not always going to be perfect in our diets and food choices. I like to live by an 80/20 rule. If you eat ideally 80% of the time, the remainder 20% of the time you can eat the foods that aren’t so perfect. According to Rachael Hartley, RD, a dietitian at Avocado A Day Nutrition LLC and co-founder of the Joyful Eating, Nourished Life program, following the 80/20 can help maintain a balanced mindset about eating. “Being healthy doesn’t require eating ‘perfectly’—whatever that might be,” “If 80% of your diet consists of nutritious whole foods, there’s room for the other 20% to come from fun foods without compromising health,” she says.
40 is the perfect time to evaluate what you’ve been eating. You have time make the necessary changes to meet your nutritional and life goals. As long as we get the privilege to be living here on earth, let’s make the right choices, so our quality of life is excellent.