Slim for Life
What to Eat in Your 30s
The challenge: You're low on energy.
Feel like you're being pulled in a zillion different directions? No wonder. Between a demanding career, a husband or significant other -- maybe kids too -- and trying to fit in a workout whenever you can, it's tough to balance all the things on your to-do list and still muster the motivation to eat right. Consider this your health wake-up call: "A less-than-stellar diet starts to catch up with you in this decade, putting you at increased risk for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and weight gain," Fernstrom says.Your Diet To-Do List
Bolster your immunity. Antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, found in foods such as sweet potatoes, red peppers, and almonds, may slow the effects of aging and help ward off heart disease and cancer. The secret to their success? They reduce inflammation and repair damage to cells. You can't get the same benefits from supplements, however. "Studies show that the antioxidants in food are much more effective than those you get from popping a pill, because they work in tandem with other compounds to fight disease," explains James Joseph, PhD, director of the neuroscience laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston.
Aim for three squares. Too busy for breakfast? Likely to choose your "lunch" from the office vending machine? If this is you, your habits need help, pronto. Dinner shouldn't be your first real meal of the day. "Not eating enough of the right foods for breakfast and lunch can make you feel exhausted and irritable by midafternoon," says Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas. Build time in your schedule for three meals daily of 400 to 500 calories each, with a 150-calorie snack anytime you go more than three to four hours without eating. Keep healthy foods -- nuts, fruits, whole-grain cereal -- in your desk for those days when you can't get away from the office.
Power up your plate. Filling up on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains may reduce your risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. In one study, women who ate the most vegetables lowered their odds of developing type 2 diabetes by 28 percent, and in another report, vegetarians slashed their risk of cardiovascular disease by 24 percent. To reap the benefits, load three-quarters of your plate with the foods mentioned above, and the remaining one-quarter with lean meat, poultry, or fish.Your Recipes for Success
1 package instant oatmeal topped with 1 sliced banana and 1 teaspoon brown sugar
6-ounces low-fat vanilla yogurt
Coffee with low-fat milk
Spinach salad: Toss together 1 1/2 cups baby spinach, 1/2 sliced red bell pepper, 5 halved grape tomatoes, 5 chopped baby carrots, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette, 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
1 ounce (about 13) baked pita chips
1 apple, sliced, and 1 tablespoon peanut butter
4-ounce grilled chicken breast with 1 cup cooked brown rice and black bean-tomato salad (1/2 cup black beans, 1 small diced tomato, 1/4 diced avocado, 1 tablespoon lime juice and 1 pinch chili powder)
8 ounces 1% milk and 2 Oreos
Nutrition facts (for the day): 1,783 calories, 80g protein, 258g carbohydrate, 54g fat (9g saturated), 41g fiber
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