Friday, May 7, 2010

The Perfect Diet- What Healthy Seniors Know

After doing 24-hour food histories on my patients for over 15 years, I have seen many different consistent patterns. The "unhealthy vegetarian" one that I shared earlier this week is a classic example that was a surprise to me when I first began this practice. The one I'd like to share today is my personal goal. The majority of my healthy, active "seniors" (usually 60+years old) patients fit this pattern. Of course, there are variances, but a few common themes dominate:
1. A BIG breakfast- eat your largest meal first, then a smaller lunch, and smallest portions at dinner.
2. Very little processed foods of any type
3. An afternoon snack, typically including nuts
4. A dinner that includes primarily vegetables
5. Dessert (often just a piece of rich chocolate) and/or a glass of red wine

What does this look like specifically?
Breakfast- Egg or egg-white vegetable omelette (peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes +/- cheese), beans, a bowl of mixed berries, whole wheat toast, and sometimes a slice of bacon or piece of sausage, juice or milk and coffee
Lunch- chicken breast, asparagus, carrot sticks, brown rice and WATER
Snack- an ounce of cashews or almonds (often they'll tell me a number- 22 almonds, or some fixed amount) and a sliced apple and water
Dinner- a large green salad with tomatoes and other veggies and a small portion of fish, completed with a glass of wine and a chocolate truffle

Notice there are not lots of chips, no fast food, and plenty of water.
BOTTOM LINE: While there is no "perfect" diet, look at the mature people around you who radiate health and energy, and ask them to share their dietary pattern with you. Let me know what they say!

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