L.K. from Illinois writes: “I read your articles weekly in The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus. I eat well and I cook at home. I’m 5-foot-5 and 167 years old. I exercise three times a week with Silver Sneakers and golf nine holes riding a cart. I have just lost nine pounds due to health issues that are resolving themselves. How do I return to eating without gaining back those nine pounds?
Portion control has been a downfall for me because I rationalize that what I eat is healthy, so fill my dinner size plate! Sounds like I have the answer, doesn’t it! Still, I would like your comments and suggestions!”
Yes, you do have the answer, L.K. When it comes to weight gain, it really is true that we can get too much of a good thing. I actually thought you had all the answers before you clarified that you are only 67 and not 167 years old.
Your letter identifies a major challenge for us as we age. After 60, our bodies require more of certain nutrients (such as calcium). At the same time, we also need fewer calories than we did in our younger years.
How do we do that? Take a look at your current food choices. Many older Americans don’t get enough vital nutrients from foods such as fruit, whole grains, dairy (high calcium) foods and vegetables, especially red and orange ones. And we tend to consume too many calories from goodies that are loaded with sugar and fat, especially the saturated type. We need to turn those tables.
That’s where portion control can be a real friend. Let’s say you’ve prepared a perfectly balanced meal: a small serving of protein such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, soy or cheese; a cup of vegetables; a serving of a whole-grain food such as bread, crackers or brown rice; and a cup of milk or calcium-fortified soy or other beverage.
But then there’s those cookies in the cabinet…
You can choose to have one or two. Or decide instead to cut fresh fruit into a pretty bowl and enjoy its natural sweet taste. That’s one way to nourish your body with essential nutrients without blowing your calories for the day.
Good for you that you get regular exercise and choose healthful meals. Another strategy that will keep off the pounds is a simple one: Get on the scale once a week. If you see anything creeping up, adjust your portions down — with special attention to the low nutrient extras such as sweets, fats and alcohol.
Hope this helps. Thanks for writing.
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