Healthy Aging: The NON-DIET SOLUTION

One of the areas that truly impacts aging is weight. Having a reasonable body mass index is a marker for predicting how well one will do in the next 10 years. And we know that summertime – a time of barbecues, drinking, sharing meals with friends and family and vacations – is an easy time to overindulge.

Dieting is defined as restricting oneself to small amounts of food, in order to lose weight. An estimated 45-million Americans spend $33 billion a year trying to lose those extra pounds. Yet, as many of us have experienced, the weight will almost inevitably come back and the whole cycle of food deprivation will begin again.

So the question is: if diets don’t always work, what does? The answer is to turn to a more balanced, realistic approach to losing weight and maintaining good health with nourishing foods, daily physical activity, positive thinking and smart lifestyle choices.

The not dieting trend was confirmed in a 2013 study produced by the NPD Group, an American research organization, which found that people were dieting less and that women were showing the biggest decline in dieting. According to the report, “In the past 10 years, the percentage of women on a diet has dropped by about 10 points. In 1992, 34 per cent of women told NPD they were on a diet; and in 2012, 23 per cent of women reported being on a diet.”

Contrast this with the fact that 57 per cent of adults said that they would like to lose 20 pounds and almost half said they need to change their diet to improve their health.

According to the NPD report:

• 55 per cent said eating healthy includes adding to, and taking out of, their diet;

• 25 per cent said “adding something to the diet” is healthy;

• 19 per cent said “taking something out” of the diet is healthy;

• 72 per cent said they eat reduced-fat foods;

• nearly 45 per cent eat foods with whole grains on a regular basis; and

• 24 per cent include organic foods and beverages in their diet.

Notice that there is no mention of restricting foods as a way to lose weight. So instead of dieting by depriving yourself of food, which usually is a joyless endeavour, try practicing the 80/20 rule: 80 per cent of the time, focus on eating clean, healthy foods; and 20 per cent of the time, you have the freedom to indulge as you please. This means that you don’t have to cut out all treats, you just have to be smart about it 80 per cent of the time.


Research into the impact of diet and brain health confirmed this proposal. Researchers looking at the effects of the MIND diet – which basically entails eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, some low-fat proteins and either grapes or a glass of wine per day – confirmed that even if you follow this diet most of the time, but not all of the time, it has a significant impact on brain health.

And that makes good sense. None of us can be perfect all the time. But we can make the effort to eat healthy, live healthy and make healthy choices 80 per cent of the time. 


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