Slim for Life: What to Eat in Your 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s
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.
What do you think of this story? Leave a Comment.