I speak with a lot of clients, and most tell me that they ‘eat right’. If they want to hire me, then I ask them to keep a food journal for a week: noting everything they eat and drink for seven days. Over the course of several years, the one thing that is certain in every client is:
People try, but the odds are stacked against them.
Remember when you were the younger kid, playing a board game with older kids. You could never win – let alone get ahead – because they kept changing the rules of the game. Today, those ‘big kids’ are the FDA and USDA. Yes .. it’s important todo your own research on the internet, to ask your adult kids, maybe speak with your physician. But, by and large, the Sea of Nutrition and Diet is a perilous place, one not easily navigated.
So last week I compiled a short list of information that I recommend. Mind you: Its general information .. which means, at NO time should it be considered a replacement for any medical protocols you may currently be following. This information is basic, sound, and reliable for anyone seeking to improve what they eat.
First, I suggest being familiar with Dr. Andrew Weil. He is a Harvard trained physician, author, and fully supports holistic living and integrative medicine. Two things about him stand-out for me:
-his Anti-inflammation Pyramid, and
-vitamins / supplements for the ‘decade years’.
First, the vitamins that you need. Face it: A 20-something doesn’t need the same multivitamin, let alone other supplements that we do in the #Next50 years of life. One size does not fit all here.
This link has a questionnaire. It took me about 5 minutes to complete (I don’t take any medications, nor have any medical conditions). It recommended things that I already include in my diet; but then, and again, I stay up-to-date on health and nutrition.
Next is the Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid, meaning it focuses on those foods that help fight inflammation; and inflammation is behind just about everything that ails us. From Allergies to Diabetes, from Bursitis to Rheumatoid Arthritis, from Dermatitis to Tendonitis, from Asthma to Autoimmune diseases, from Celiac disease to Diverticulitis .. well, you get the point.
For myself, I started following the Anti-Inflammatory Pyramid when I started Olympic Weightlifting. After training, every joint in my body would hurt, even days later .. making loud popping sounds that hurt. I did some research, found Dr. Weil’s site, gave it a try, and over ten years later, still follow it.
Next is the University Health News. Essentially, they are a team of people who scour the internet looking for the most up-to-date health and nutrition news available. Lol .. sort of what I do for myself and my guy, but, per their website:
Each month, faculty doctors, health writers and medical editors present
cutting edge health and wellness information for University Health News readers.
They put out Health Reports, Health Publications, and FREE ebooks! On the menu at their main page, follow FREE GUIDES for a complete list. A good place to start is with “Successful Aging”.
Finally, some meal plans. Mind you, these are only suggestions .. and at no time are meant to replace any medical guidelines you may be following.
-Warm oatmeal and berries. Place frozen or fresh berries in a crockpot at a low heat setting. Add a pat of butter and one serving of old-fashioned oats and water. Cover and cook on low, for several hours (or overnight). This will give it the consistency of bread pudding. (The easier option is adding berries to warm oatmeal.)
-A hard-boiled egg. Accompany with a side of fresh fruit and a slice of whole-wheat toast.
-Whole grain pancakes or waffles. For extra fiber, choose a brand that contains flax. Then top with fresh berries. For protein, also eat a handful of walnuts or almonds.
-Yogurt parfait. Mix together yogurt, nuts and fruit. It’s a good combo of healthy fat, Vitamin C and carbohydrates.
-Power toast. For healthy fat and some protein, spread peanut butter or almond butter on whole-wheat toast; enjoy fresh fruit on the side.
-Poached egg. Place egg on top of whole-wheat toast and steamed asparagus. Top with a small amount of butter.
-Quinoa salad. Sauté pre-chopped stir-fry vegetables (onion, red pepper, mushrooms). Combine with pine nuts or pecans and cooked quinoa. Toss with Italian salad dressing. Eat fresh, warm or cold; keeps well refrigerated. The USDA recommends steaming or saut?ing vegetables in olive oil instead of boiling, which drains the nutrients.
-Eggs and red potatoes. Melt a pat of butter in a skillet; chop up potatoes and add to skillet, over a medium heat. Cover skillet for 2 min. Then, pour scrambled eggs over potatoes, add pepper and toss until eggs are hot. Rather than season with salt, which can lead to water retention and high blood pressure, use fresh herbs and spices.
-Cottage fries. Slice parboiled red potatoes. Heat extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and cook the potatoes at a medium heat. Top with leftover vegetables and grated sharp cheddar cheese. Cover, let steam and serve.
-Southwest omelet. Beat 2 eggs. Put 1 Tbs. olive oil in a skillet. Pour in the egg mixture; add pepper jack cheese chunks and natural salsa or chili sauce. When eggs are firm, fold and serve with sliced avocado. Tip: Chili and spices help boost diminished taste buds.
-Salmon wrap. Place canned Alaskan boneless skinless salmon on a whole grain wrap. Add chopped avocado, tomatoes, greens and plain yogurt. Wrap tightly, cut in half and serve.
-Baked or grilled Alaskan salmon. Top each steak with tomatoes, sweet onion, dried or fresh basil, chopped garlic and 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil. Wrap each piece of fish tightly in aluminum foil and place in the oven on a low heat (300 degrees). If the fish is thawed, cook for about 15 minutes. Dinner is ready when the fish is flaky, but still moist.
-Lamb and potatoes. (If you can keep some parboiled red potatoes on hand, you can prepare fast and easy meals.) Form ground lamb into small meatballs. Tear fresh basil into slivers, or use a pinch of dried basil. Slice pre-cooked red potatoes into small pieces. Slice a clove of garlic. Warm extra virgin olive oil in a skillet. Sauté garlic and basil on a medium heat for 5 minutes. Add lamb; brown. Add potatoes; cover for 10 min. Toss ingredients; add a dash of ground pepper. Cook for an additional 5 min.
-Shrimp and pasta. Heat a pat of butter and 1 Tbs. olive oil in a saucepan. Add chopped fresh herbs, garlic and a handful of shrimp. Toss and cook until shrimp is done. Place on a bed of pasta and top with chopped fresh tomatoes.
-Liver and fennel. Place liver slices in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Top with chopped fennel, ted onion and cabbage. Cover and steam until liver is tender. Serve.
-Beans and rice. Heat up a can of black, pinto or white beans. Serve with brown rice, oats or barley. You can warm the meal in a crockpot and serve later.
-Shrimp and fresh greens. Sauté fresh vegetables in a saucepan (again, you can buy pre-cut veggies), with olive oil. Add cocktail shrimp, which can be bought peeled, cooked and chilled. Serve with a berry vinaigrette salad dressing and lime slices.
-Southwest chicken salad. Cook boneless, skinless chicken breast on a medium heat in a skillet with extra virgin olive oil. Add salsa. Shred chicken and reserve in refrigerator to use for wraps, salad or soup.
Remember: These are suggestions only!
Now: How to ‘read’ the meal plan.
Lets say you don’t like salmon, never thought about buying lamb, and don’t know what a quinoa is (let along how to pronounce it). The best way to read a meal plan is by identifying the macronutrients, which is a fancy way of saying: Carbohydrates, Protein, and Fat. So, for the first breakfast listed above: Warm oatmeal and berries (with a pat of butter), that is 46 grams of Carbs, 7 grams of Protein, and 14 grams of Fat. This combination (like the others listed) is an excellent way to start the day.
Next, I would suggest a Protein Shake / Smoothie between meals, to assure you are getting enough Protein. Something very important as we age, because we are looking at a loss of bone density and muscle mass. Per the National Library of Medicine, and several leading medical research facilities:
There is evidence that increased essential amino acid or protein availability can enhance muscle protein synthesis and anabolism, as well as improve bone homeostasis in older subjects. Protein and calcium intake should be considered in the prevention or treatment of the chronic diseases osteoporosis and sarcopenia.
Which brings us to calcium. The most reliable source is not cow’s milk, but dark green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collard greens, as well as in dried beans and legumes. You see, simply consuming approximately 600 milligrams per day (or more) alone – which is easily done with dairy products or calcium supplements – does not improve bone integrity.
So how do we improve bone density and muscle mass? Three ways:
–Lift Weights (or weight-bearing exercise),
-If you are a #Next50, you need to consume 1,200 milligrams of /day calcium, and
-Get outside! Yes, you need vitamin D, which is best derived from sunshine – about 15 minutes a day. Or, you can supplement vitamin D. One study found that 700-800 IUs a day decreased the risk of hip and non-vertebral fractures; and it has been shown to reduce the risk of falling by 20%.
See .. it’s easy! Exercise, eat your Greens, and enjoy the Sunshine!
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Top pic: My garden, last day of summer (September 21, 2016). Juicy, sweet, and tangy Cherry Tomatoes!
Bottome pic: Log Squats at Sharon Woods. The park crew had cut and left them .. so I used them for weighted squats!