Photo by Salt Water New England

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Question for the Community: How has the way you eat changed over time?


A Reader Question for the Community:
Dear Muffy, 
The conversations on clothes and exercising were really interesting.  I have another one.  
How have readers changed their approach to food over the decades? How were reader's twenties and thirties different than forties or fifties or older?  
Thank you for SWNE!

40 comments:

  1. I think I enjoy cooking and finding recipes I want to try now in my mid 50s more of a pleasure. In my younger years I ate whatever and whenever. That’s not good enough now for me or my husband. Nothing crazy exotic or w ridiculous herbs or ingredients I’ll use once. Boring.

    No regrets from my 20s. That was then. Now, we savor the good stuff. We have fun cooking together. Any excuse to have some friends over and whip up something and have a lot of laughs and share out good fortune.

    It’s all about gratitude and love. That is the biggest difference. Sorry for the rambling. Prost!

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  2. A lot healthier and a lot less.

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  3. Much healthier and tasteless.

    Prescott Hawes

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  4. Used to hate to cook when I was young. Now, looking forward to retirement, and one thing I want to do is learn to cook. Not fancy, just better, healthier. I'm already planning what I want in my kitchen. It's not about a fancy kitchen, that's not necessary nor what I want. It's about organizing it so it works for you when you cook, not against you. Looking forward to learning new recipes for healthier eating as we age.

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  5. Tracking all food intake, serious portion control, lots of oatmeal (breakfast) and yogurt/granola (lunch), seasonal fruit for snacks, and a reasonable dinner. We still go out for meals, and eat what we want when we do, but much more infrequently than when we were younger. It's not fun, but we certainly feel better for the effort.

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  6. My husband and I evolved over the years to a whole foods plant-based way of eating. We are in our sixties, retired, and are both slender and healthy, so there was no radical change or big motive to make drastic changes. We had both lost our taste for beef, pork, and poultry, so eating mostly plants (fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts) was something that felt good and natural. We eat what is in season, and that is the way I grew up. We never had strawberries in December! We were never over eaters and always ate moderate portions, but the way we eat now did have benefits that we hadn't been seeking (even better numbers in blood work and moving the belts a notch). Anyway, it is a joyful way of eating, and we are very happy with it. I have recently read Blue Zones by Dan Buettner and found it interesting. It's not another "diet book" at all, but is a study of what people eat and how they live in areas of the world where people enjoy long and healthy lives without obesity and all of its inherent problems. The only Blue Zone in the U.S. is Loma Linda, CA, which is predominantly Seventh Day Adventists, most of whom are vegan, vegetarian, or pescatarian.

    Jacqueline

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  7. At 45 I started dieting with portion control and some pre-packaged meal plans out there. I lost about 15lbs and thought I was making a difference. I'd gain it back during the holidays, and then "slim down" in the spring. This yo-yo business went on for about 3 years. Then at 49 I made the decision to cut out carbs. Zero, not low, not reduced, none. In 7 months I lost 40lbs and have kept it off for over 2 years now. I found it easy to maintain, but others in my family struggle to avoid carbs. I wish I could eat like I did in my 20's but it lead to poor eating habits in my 30's. I'll be 51 next week and I've never felt better, or had better annual doctor visits.

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  8. Have always enjoyed to cook, just trying to be a bit healthier about some of our choices!

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  9. I've always been careful about nutrition, and now that I'm past fifty the biggest change is that I've become very vigilant about sodium, which in excess is bad for the heart and kidneys as well as causing water retention for several hours--after which my kidneys deal with it in the night and wake me up. EVERYTHING now has far too much sodium added. I'm old enough to remember when there was this thing called a salt shaker and if people wanted a lot of salt in their food they could add it themselves. Now almost anything in a restaurant or packaged has enough sodium in it to sink Cleopatra's barge. I now read labels for sodium content as carefully as I read for bad fats. I'm not being a fanatic or crusader, just doing what safeguards my health and helps me feel my best.

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  10. My diet changed dramatically over the past several years.

    As the years rolled on, I kept getting fatter and fatter. I tried all kinds of diets, and yeah, they worked for a short period of time, but I'd regain the weight and then some! After a few of these yo-yo rounds, I realized it wasn't working.

    I started to look into the research on healthy eating. I kept coming across plant-based diets as having a lot of heath-related benefits. I thought that's good, but who could survive on just plants?

    Well, it turns out, you can survive on just plants and much healthier than on our usual diet with meat and other animal products.

    About 6-7 years ago, I went to a week-long plant-based program run by a physician. I lost several pounds and my cholesterol went from 215 to 165 (they did blood tests pre and post). Others got off their blood pressure and diabetes medicines (yeah, these disorders can be managed and even eliminated with a plant-based diet). Even heart patients improved. That convinced me.

    So, after 6-7 years on a plant-based diet, I can report these benefits: loss of 45 pounds in first 5-6 months without trying; and I've never regained the lost weight. I didn't die from malnutrition. I get plenty of protein. It's a joy cooking the food. I really enjoy eating it. I never miss meat, cheese, cow milk, fish, chicken, etc. And, I am personally really, really happy I am not participating in the mass killing of sentient beings (farm animals like we see on these pages).

    Aiken

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    1. Aiken: Good for you! I'm with you on all that you said. I do find it joyful to prepare the "plants." There is plenty to eat, and my husband and I are both happy and truly enjoy our food and the benefits. There are some excellent documentaries that you may already be familiar with. My favorite is "Diet Fiction." That was on Amazon Prime. "What the Health" and "Forks Over Knives" are also great.

      Jacquline

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    2. Hi Jacquline,

      I liked Diet Fiction, too. I think we started a year or so before Forks Over Knives came out. Around that time, I was reading the China Study by Collin Campbell and learning how researchers manipulated cancer growth through animal and plant proteins. I thought that was strong evidence. There are lots of good reasons to switch: rather dramatic effects on personal health, significantly reducing our environmental impact, and expressing compassion for others. I found there is really no good reason not to.

      Lots of great and easy recipes, too. I make pizza from scratch with a plant-based “moxerella.” I love it when I serve it to a new guest. About half-way through dinner, I’ll mention that the cheese is made from broccoli. It never fails to get a stunned look. Everyone thinks it’s real mozzarella – and many of these folks are aficionados of Wooster Street pies.

      Aiken

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    3. To Aiken, broccoli is a goitrogen along with cauilflower, cabbage, kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, flaxseed, tapioca, bamboo shoots and soy. Goitrogens are compounds that interfere with the normal function of the thyroid gland. Put simply, they make it more difficult for the thyroid to produce the hormones your body needs for normal metabolic function. So, not telling a guest that they are eating cheese, which can be helpful for hyprothyroidism and gout, you could be making them feel miserable. Also to all of those new vegans out there, you may be feeling rather pleased with yourself now, but eating too much of these "good foods" could cause new problems later on.

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    4. Aiken, I read "The China Study" and found it so interesting. I also read "Blue Zones" by Dan Buettner and "How Not to Die" by Michael Greger, M.D. It is so wonderful when people like you do this and receive so many health benefits. In one of the documentaries I mentioned, there was a man in Tampa who took something like fourteen medications a day and was able to get off all of them. The best part is how good he feels! My husband and I are just enjoying the wonderful food and feeling good. Joyful and clean are the best words I can use to describe it.

      Jacqueline

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    5. Jacqueline, we like Greger, too. His website is a wealth of science-based info on diet and nutrition. Two other physicians worth checking out are John McDougall and Caldwell Esselstyn. McDougall has been treating people with a plant-based diet for decades with good success against many western diseases. Esselstyn was at the Cleveland Clinic curing people with heart disease that were diagnosed with limited time left to live. Twenty-plus years later, most of his patients were still alive. His wife and daughter-in law (I think) have good palates and have created a lot of tasty recipes.

      For me, the words are joyful, clean and, I would add, compassionate.

      Aiken

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    6. Aiken,

      Sorry for the delayed response. Perhaps you'll see this. I am familiar with Dr. Esselstyn, and have seen him in some of the documentaries I've watched. His work is very impressive. Yes, I agree with your words: "joyful clean, and compassionate." My husband and I are both very happy eating this way even though we did not have health or weight problems. It feels good, and it is good.

      Jacqueline

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  11. All I eat is various meats, green vegetables, and nuts. I've lost 60 lbs and have no health issues in my late 50's. I'm in better shape than my nieces and nephews who are 30 years younger because of it.

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  12. Like Garrison above, I'm watching my sodium these days. I have high blood pressure, pretty well controlled with medication. I'm not doing anything drastic, just mostly not adding more salt to meals, and avoiding most fast food. In my early 20s, I had a burger for lunch every day -- can't do that anymore! Now I have falafel wraps, salads and the occasional sandwich. Still probably eating more meat than I should.

    At home with my wife and teenage son (teenage daughter is just off to college), we've been using a meal delivery service called Home Chef. It's amazing what a difference it makes having apportioned recipe ingredients delivered. We cook them ourselves, but not having to source and measure adds a lot of convenience. Last night we had steak with sauce Robert and spinach scalloped potatoes. Not wildly healthy, but portion-controlled and delicious.

    I'm 49 and in good health aside from my blood pressure -- not overweight, play a lot of tennis and golf. Happy that I'm able to eat pretty much as I please, at least for now.

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  13. I'm in my 70s now and to be honest, I don't remember what I was eating in my 20s. It was enough to keep me alive at least. I didn't get married to my first wife until I was in my 30s and after that, I started gaining a little weight, although I'm still on the thin side. Frankly, though, we don't worry a great deal about our food but we eat well enough.

    I'm still married to my first wife, by the way.

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  14. As we age, our metabolism changes and slows. I finally understand why seniors eat less and have their evening meals early.

    At 68, I eat less, especially added sugar foods, and I typically follow 16-8 fasting and finish my evening meal by 7. Breakfast (light) is usually after 11.

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  15. Definitely healthier than in my college and post college years, when I considered spaghetti with butter & cheese a home cooked meal. I do still hate to cook, and thankfully and luckily married a man who loves to cook (and is good at it).

    You'll pry fried clams, cheeseburgers and fresh baked chocolate cookies from my cold, dead hands, though.......

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    1. We got my mom (who's 88 this year) to go vegan a few years ago. She lost weight, got off blood pressure meds, and remains spry and healthy. The one thing she won't give up: Fried Clams!

      Aiken

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    2. Cheers to mom - good for her! I have fried clams once a year and love every single one!

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  16. I'm 58, female. As a youngster I didn't care for fatty/fried, sweet or salty foods. I hated school lunches and I couldn't wait to get home and have a bowl of frozen boxed Brussels sprouts. Weird, eh? I didn't even like ice cream but I did like sherbet and a frosty fruit salad that my grandmother made. I have loved cooking since the age of 5 so even in college I rarely ate fast food ( couldn't afford to). I didn't consider myself to be a health nut or a vegetarian but I definitely had a different diet than everyone else in my family. In my twenties I found myself choosing more vegetarian meals especially when I flew. My grandmother thought it was just terrible that I flew to Hawaii and spent all that money and refused to eat the meat..hahahaha I think she thought I was turning into a hippie. I always packed my lunch for work which included a thermos of tomato soup most days and never ate the office snacks or their Friday donuts or pizza lunches.

    Then, in my mid forties, I began to crave more carbs, salt and sugar and knew I had to make a real effort to control my cravings by avoiding those types of foods. I quit drinking soda pop altogether and even now I only drink one or two a year. One day at work ( mid forties) I discovered the vending machine with Hostess cupcakes in it. I quickly looked away and returned to my microscope but all I could think about were those chocolate cupcakes down the hall. I finally succumbed to my craving. Oh my gosh, one bite and I was in heaven but that was a HUGE mistake! I became so instantly addicted that I couldn't concentrate on my work for days. That vending machine haunted me. So, take my advice and ignore those middle-age cravings for sugar!

    Now that I'm 58 I eat mostly the same but less, eat as early in the evening as possible. I'm more conscious of my caloric intake and I eat much less before and after holidays or other gatherings where the food is packed with calories.

    I purchase fresh organic food which is now more readily available and still avoid restaurants, sugar and salt. I drink hot tea with a tiny bit of honey. I have never consumed artificial sweeteners. I also prefer real butter to any other oil or fat but I only use it now for special baking and instead use Earth Balance.

    I love really good food and old cookbooks with recipes that use traditional ingredients and traditional methods of cooking. I gave my microwave away in 2005 and haven't missed it.

    I no longer buy dairy milk unless I need it for preparing a special dish. I like the coconut and almond milk, unsweetened.

    My shopping rule: If it's not wholesome with some health benefit, it doesn't come home with me from the store.

    I've never had issues with blood pressure or cholesterol like everyone else in my family but if I did, I would seriously alter my diet ( vegan maybe?) instead of taking meds. Knock on wood :D

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    1. I'm glad you said salt instead of sodium.

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    2. As you probably know, I was referring to added table salt and you're right that sodium is a necessary nutrient. Some types of salt are healthier than others. I suppose most folks eat the sodium chloride salt but I think pink or sea salt is the best. I knew a professor who claimed that the " salt diet" he was on was healthy. I don't know anything about it except that he believed one should consume a lot of salt. That didn't sound healthy to me and guess what? He keeled over at his desk and died.

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  17. As a teenager, I ate whatever I wanted. My favourite foods were steak frites, perogies and pogos (aka corn dogs). I also drank a lot of soft drinks.

    In my early twenties, I became very ill and eating became very challenging. I had to cut out gluten for a year because doctors suspected I had Celiac Disease.

    My stomach issues were resolved in my late twenties and now I'm back to eating whatever I want, whenever I want. I typically eat a lot of high fat, high protein, low carb meals.

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  18. I married in my 20s and, being brought up Southern, adapted my cooking to my husband's Yankee tastes. Now we're 60, and influences were acquired from all directions over many years. We eat poultry, meats, and fish, but they're prepared simply and without flour. We're seasonal in our meals, as my garden and his hunting weigh on our choices. I keep a lot of fruit and
    nuts around for snacking and neither of us eats desert at all...except that after a trip to Turkey, I started making fruit platters and we sometimes set that out for desert when company is coming. We serve water or wine with meals, and I sure do miss sweet tea.

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  19. We find we like eating earlier and much lighter. We have lost our taste for meat and only eat it about once every 3 weeks. We've always eaten "seasonally" and really enjoy vegetable only meals in the summer.

    However, I find it a little harder to eat plants and veggies only in the winter especially since I won't buy things tomatoes in December or strawberries in January. For those of you who have basically gone to that kind of eating, I'm really curious what you serve for dinner 7 nights a week if you only shop for seasonal items. We can eat beans and a lot of soups but my husband does get tired of not occasionally having the meat, two veggies, etc. like he grew up eating.

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    1. Since we are retired, we eat our main meal at noon, and we eat something pretty light at around 6 p.m. I never really wanted a lot to digest in the hours before bed, but as we got older, that seemed the best way to go.

      I do rely on legumes, and I have found so many ways to prepare them, e.g. curried lentils, Mexican lentils, etc. It's endless. We combine them with grains or sometimes put some on a baked potato. We love split pea and barley soup in the winter. There are a lot of recipes and resources out there, and I can be pretty creative in the kitchen.

      I'm not against frozen vegetables that are from the USA and have no added junk like sauces and seasonings. I use frozen baby peas and corn all year round.

      Jacqueline

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    2. Thanks for some ideas. It's time to go to the library and start checking out some vegetarian cookbooks for more recipes using these ingredients.

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    3. A few years ago I began looking at the recipes on those meal delivery websites like Blue Apron and I copied many of the vegetarian recipes and prepared the meals myself. You may want to look at vegetariantimes.com for recipes. I use the site frequently to get ideas and tweak the recipes according to what ingredients I like or have on hand. A meat substitute product that I love is Quorn found in the freezer section of some groceries. They make grounds, patties, nuggets and more and their products don't contain soy ( I prefer not to eat soy). I have served it to many unsuspecting visitors who thought it was chicken or ground beef. The patties are wonderful for parmigiana.

      Quiche ( with or without crust) made with seasonal veggies are always treat in my house as well as meatless soups and stews. I make a large pot of soup or stew every week and it feeds us for 2 or three days. As soon as it cools off I'll make a big pot of butternut squash chili with or without the Quorn grounds. You could make a vegetarian version of Shepherd's Pie if you are desiring comfort food.

      Quinoa is a super healthy complete protein substitution for couscous or rice. I sometimes make a large green salad with roasted veggies, nuts, dried fruits and quinoa for dinner.

      Like Jacqueline, I make a lot of things with lentils and chickpeas.

      Let your creative juices flow :D

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  20. Dear Anonymous,August 30, 2019 at 1:20 PM, you are right using the term "manipulated" and also fear is a tool well used. Thank you.

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  21. The food we ate growing up is certainly not the "food" (any/all) of today, in any such diets, eating style/choices, etc...

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  22. A fraction of the carbohydrates, for obvious reasons.

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  23. I now sprinkle fresh parsley on my kraft macaroni and cheese.

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  24. I find myself feeling nostalgic for the food of my youth. Triscuits, bean dips, martinis, lots of beef. As others mentioned, I focus on foods with less salt and more plant-based.

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  25. Dear Anonymous, August 31, 2019 at 7:08 PM
    Isn't "Quorn" main ingredient mold?

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  26. Usually verify the 'use by' dates on pre-packed meat.

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