We all have plenty of habits we do on a daily basis. But the tricky part about habits is that they become so ingrained into our routine that we usually don’t even notice we are doing them. And while some habits are great for our health, like going for a morning walk or incorporating veggies into your breakfast, some habits can totally wreck your body.
If you’re 50 years young, or somewhere close to it, there are specific eating habits that experts warn can have lasting consequences to your health. Here are some common habits you may want to change, and for more healthy aging tips, make sure to check out The Best Foods to Slow Aging.
Skipping meals is a habit that easily goes unnoticed, especially if you’re running late or are extremely busy. However, this habit can, unfortunately, be harmful to your health.
“Skipping meals (especially breakfast) can contribute to increased insulin resistance because going long periods of time without eating, then eating large amounts all at once, can contribute to bigger swings in blood sugar levels throughout the day,” says Stephanie Hnatiuk RD, CDE, PTS. “Individuals who skip breakfast and/or lunch are more likely to consume excess calories in the late afternoon and evening, which can also contribute to weight gain.”
Hnatiuk instead suggests eating three full meals a day when you can. If you know you’re going to have a busy day, it can be helpful to prepare something ahead of time so you can grab it and take it on the go.
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Getting enough protein in your diet is important for every person at any age, but it especially becomes important as you enter into your 50s.
“Protein is key for maintaining muscle mass, which is important for healthy aging,” says Hnatiuk. “Because a decrease in muscle mass occurs with age, protein requirements increase as we get older.”
Because of this, Hnatiuk suggests including a source of protein at every meal, “like eggs, Greek yogurt, fish, poultry, tofu, or beans.”
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Along with protein, fiber is another crucial nutrient in maintaining a healthy diet into your 50s. According to Hnatiuk, “fiber plays a role in the health of our digestive system, improves fullness after meals, and helps to reduce spikes in blood sugars after we eat.”
Not only that, but a report from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded consuming enough soluble fiber (the type found in oats, beans, and apples) can cause your LDL “bad” cholesterol to decrease.
Despite fiber being such a necessary part of healthy living, many people aren’t getting nearly enough on a daily basis.
“To meet your fiber goal and get the benefits of fiber in your diet, make a habit of including fruits and or vegetables with every meal, and choose whole grains over white or refined grains as often as you can,” says Hnatiuk.
It’s important to pay attention to inflammation as you age because it can lead to a number of different diseases if it turns chronic.
“This type of inflammation naturally occurs as you age,” says Angela L. Lago MS, RDN, LDN. “Therefore it’s important to be even more cognizant of inflammatory foods that are included in our diets after turning 50.”
Lago lists some specific inflammatory foods that you may want to limit or avoid when you can as you get older, including sodas and sugary drinks, processed baked goods like cookies and cakes, refined carbohydrates like white bread, and processed meats.
Drinking lighter amounts of alcohol is normally okay, but Lago warns that excessive alcohol can lead to more inflammation as well.
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