THE BLOG

Healthy Eating After 50 - What's Involved

04/02/2014 16:38 GMT | Updated 06/04/2014 10:59 BST
Photographer Nick Measures via Getty Images

There are a number of annoying things about hitting 'pretirement'. 'Pretirement' you ask? Yes - it's my new thing. The era between the age of 50 and 65 - pre retirement.

The first annoying thing is the endless question: 'when are you retiring?'. This is akin to 'what are you going to study in college' when you're 17, 'when's the wedding?' when you've been dating that guy for a few years and the dreaded 'when are we going to see a baby' when you're cutting the cake on your big day. Everywhere you to turn, it's like there's nothing else going on in your life.

The other trouble with turning 50, is that you are supposed to change your eating habits or, at least, not eat as much. The alternative is to get more active, but either way your 50th birthday marks a new eating challenge in your life.

According to this report, adults 50 years old or more should revert to eating the same amount of calories as 9 -13 year olds and that is 1,600 in my case. I'm supposed to be eating the same as a Tween??!? Nobody told me.

This is shocking news to hear when you are now approaching 60 and nobody told you to reduce your calorie intake by 400 (FYI - that's a lunch size portion). That's 10 years of overeating regardless of whether every mouthful you ate was wholesome and cooked at home or otherwise. Looking very covertly at my colleagues, friends and family, many of us are ever so slightly past the 'healthy' weight (sorry guys), but I can assure you none are yet past our sell by or even our use by date! Phew.

I actually can't help but feel slightly annoyed at this news and question whether the 'Eat Less on Your 50th Birthday' rule was kept a secret from us as punishment for being the last of the generations that was brought up on unadulterated food? We're talking quality food straight from garden to plate, from farm to fork. We never seemed as concerned with the odd spot of afternoon tea home making, usually knowing that our portions were okay and we were busy walking and burning up the excess calories through our exercise.

It's pretty obvious now for those of coming us up to or over 60 years of age, who weren't blessed with the skinny genes or brought up with a 'wow' body image attitude, that we should not have baked that cake and eaten it, nor been psychologically bullied to eat up every scrap of food from what was a 'healthy' plated meal in our day.

Eating for us Pretires is going to have to change if at 65 or 67 we want a long and active retirement (and if I decide to retire earlier or later, that's my own prerogative :))

So what now for Pretires?

It's quite simple, continue to eat a selection from all the five food groups, just less.

Serve smaller portions at home. In restaurants check out calorie information for each meal. The good news is that your food bill will come down.

Recipe calculation need attention, as most serve four adult portions. Either:

Follow the recipe using smaller plates as a guideline to portion sizes and keep leftovers. Leftovers should be cooled quickly, portioned into individual containers, refrigerated or frozen. Don't slip into the 'I'll just finish this off' bridage. The good news is that you now have lunch or dinner made for another day.

Make the dish with reduced ingredient measurements.

Be aware of empty calories in food, which carry zero nutrients. Compare regular ingredients like non fat mozzarella cheese or a baked potato which contain zero empty calories, with cheddar which contains 113 empty calories and a portion of French fries which contains 185 empty calories. This resource is a handy one for tracking this stuff!

Worried about your current weight?

The NHs have a handy tool for calculating your BMI and have suggested how we break our calorie intake over the day. Why not check our Sian's Plan for recipes. It has a list of the calories per portion and you can adjust as required

Women over 50 (allowance 1,400kcal i.e. 200 less than the recommended number of calories needed if you do not want to lose weight)

Breakfast: 280kcal

Lunch: 420kcal

Dinner: 420kcal

Other food and drink: 280kcal

Men over 50 (allowance 1,900kcal)

Breakfast: 380kcal

Lunch: 570kcal

Dinner: 570kcal

Other food and drink: 380kcal

Learn from my mistake

In a previous blog I spoke about my unfortunate accident where I broke my ankle. I had an extremely fast recovery, which my doctors and I claim was helped by my balanced healthy diet and lifestyle.

The fact that the accident occurred on a walk to the gym brings an agonising smile to my face. If only had I known that although I was not over-indulging in my mind (I was eating the same calories as my under 50s self), the fact that now I was eating well over my 'pretirement' allowance was the reason I had put on weight. I might never have needed to go to the gym in the first place.

Excess weight doesn't happen overnight. Begin to cut out those calories as soon as you. And tell anyone who asks 'when are you retiring' to mind their own business. You're eat like a Tween, you feel like a Tween!