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Slim for Life: What to Eat in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s

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For many of us, getting older and wider go hand in hand: Most adults pack on an average of 3.4 pounds every four years. "But weight gain isn't inevitable if you arm yourself with age-specific strategies to prevent it," says Elisa Zied, RD, the author of Younger Next Week. (Famous bodies of evidence: Christie Brinkley, Sandra Bullock and Halle Berry.) To help you stay trim, we zeroed in on the fat traps specific to each decade, then tapped the experts for the best ways to avoid them.

Your 20s

Fat trap: Drinking
Blame it on the alcohol. Happy hour, boozy brunches and girls' nights galore add up to lots of empty calories and late-night pizza.

Fat zap: "Most of us wouldn't drink several sodas in a row, but we'll order multiple cocktails -- even though a mojito is more caloric than a cola," says Alice Domar, PhD, a coauthor of Live a Little! A shot of liquor has about 100 calories, a five-ounce glass of wine contains 120 and a 12-ounce beer has around 150.

Keep liquid calories low by alternating each drink with a glass of water or seltzer. Since many restaurants dole out double portions of wine, pour yourself five ounces at home (that's about two-thirds of a cup) so you'll know if you've been served extra, suggests Heather Mangieri, RD, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And to prevent your willpower from drowning in pinot noir, "decide what you're going to eat before you sip," she says.

Fat trap: Eating out
Restaurant portions are huge (the average meal packs 1,495 calories), and you're more likely to polish them off. People who dine in a group consume 18 percent more calories than they do when they're alone, according to a study in Physiology & Behavior.

Fat zap: "I'm going out to dinner, so I'll have a light lunch." Sound familiar? "Though it seems logical to save up your calories, people often end up consuming more in the end," Domar says. Instead of showing up starving, eat a small serving of filling protein, such as a hard-boiled egg or a carton of Greek yogurt, to help tame your appetite before you head to the restaurant.

Once there, be the first at your table to order, because research shows that your dinner companions' food selection can influence yours. An easy way to order right: "Pick an upgraded version of something that you might make at home," Mangieri suggests. So instead of a boring grilled-chicken salad, try the baby greens with roast chicken, walnuts and pears, for example. "This naturally helps you gravitate toward healthier options without making you feel as if you're depriving yourself."

Fat trap: Coupling up
No one is safe from love chub: Women who are dating gain an average of 15 pounds over five years, those who live with their guy gain 18, and newly married women gain 24, according to research from the University of North Carolina. "People in relationships subconsciously mirror each other's food choices and eating pace," explains Susan Albers, a psychologist and the author of Eating Mindfully. That's dangerous, because men can generally get away with consuming more calories a day than women can.

Fat zap: If you keep picking grilled fish over burgers, chances are he'll start doing the same. "When one person makes healthy choices, the other is likely to follow," Albers says. Make healthy un-boring by buying exotic vegetables at the farmers' market, experimenting with a lower-calorie version of chili or mac and cheese, or browsing cooking blogs for recipes you can make together. Then dish out your portion onto a smaller plate and intentionally slow your pace.

On date night, don't default to dinner and a movie. Instead, try taking a new class at the gym, exploring a nearby city, or hiking in a local park together. Not only will you torch calories instead of taking them in, but you'll also feel friskier; couples who share new activities report having better chemistry than those who stick to a routine.

Next:  Your 30s


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coyoteridg50945 wrote:

I'm 72 and just speed walked two miles (with my dog non-stop) at 8500 feet. I am definitely not dead and would appreciate an article for us older folks. Need I say more???

9/21/2014 11:43:22 AM Report Abuse
a1cedro wrote:

Useful information. I am 62, what about those of us who are older? A new article focusing on the 60's 70's 80's and 90's would be very useful to those caring for parents or older relatives and for older people like myself. I have a couple of suggestions to pass: Older people should have blood tests for vitamin and mineral content. Most of us need to supplement D3 for bones and B1 for brain function.

9/3/2014 06:51:57 AM Report Abuse
rama.ananth wrote:

I am surprised by the comments of people who are above 50, and still leading a very healthy and fit life, being fitness Instructors and what not. Why do you need tips from these people, for you know enough to lead such a fulfilling and healthy life? I am sure you can share some tips with everybody irrespective of the age they belong to. Also it means that anyone who is their 50s and above can follow the tips given here. They could have simply written 50 and above.Congrats to all of you there!!!

8/4/2014 11:11:48 AM Report Abuse
caydencejames wrote:

You women over 60 might think carefully about complaining about this because you're coming across as though your senile. Did you see the title of the article? It stopped @ 50!So why bother to read this article unless you're planning on doing the things in it? You've lived long enough to know that each magazine targets an age group so maybe you all should stop whining and create your own magazine for 60+ women!

7/27/2014 07:33:36 AM Report Abuse
fun4u00007 wrote:

Where are the tips for 60?

7/21/2014 02:01:23 PM Report Abuse

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