When we turn forty, our metabolism slows down, our bodies change. It’s important to adapt to this change, anticipate its impact, and take actions to improve one’s lifestyle that will delay aging and prevent disease. Here is a little list of the most common disease prevention and aging habits to avoid in order to tune the biological clock.

Habit One: Snacking

This is the number one American dietary habit that causes weight gain. Snacking, either due to stress or habit, increases weight gain. Even if a person snacks on healthy foods, it becomes a habit that will eventually lead to overeating and the consumption of high calorie foods. The best way to avoid snacking is to have a full meal, one that includes all the necessary nutrients and is filling.

Habit Two: Skipping Breakfast

Many women skip breakfast in order to reduce their calorie intake. By not breaking the previous night’s fast, the body shuts down and reduces calorie spending. When meal time comes, the appetite is ignited because the body finally wakes up and demands higher quantities of food. This is how starvation diets lead to weight gain. Once the person starts eating, her appetite will be difficult to satisfy due to the disregulation in gut-brain messengers that control appetite.

Habit Three: Sugary Beverages

Either it’s diet soda, fruit juice, or some fancy modified water, these beverages contain ingredients that are unhealthy. In the case of diet soda, it has aspartame which has been linked to weight gain in several scientific studies. “Several large scale prospective cohort studies found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain (1).” The other problem with these so-called light or diet drinks (and foods) is they fool the consumer into thinking that these products have no calories — thus leading to overconsumption. More importantly, these products become addictive due to their stimulation of the pleasure centers in the brain. Fruit juice is just another liquid sugar, poor in vitamins, mineral, and with little fiber. The only healthy beverage is water to prevent disease and avoid aging habits.

Habit Four: Portion Control

This is how people develop eating disorders. There are hormones in the body that tell the brain to send triggers of hunger when energy stores are depleted, thirst when fluids are low, sleep when we are tired, and so on. By mechanically controlling how much food you should eat, you cause a disregulation of these hormones. After a while, the signals are still going to the brain but there is no response. The result is a disappearance of the sensation of satiety leading to overeating and weight gain.

More importantly, not eating to satisfaction creates an impulse to nibble. The best way to reduce calorie intake is to use a MicroRicheTM diet where foods high in micronutrients and fiber are larger in quantities than foods that contain macronutrients. Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals have no calories. Macronutrients — proteins, carbs, and fats — contain calories. Fiber is a carbohydrate but contains no calories digestible by humans. When these foods are properly combined, there is no need for portion control. The appetite shrinks on its own when the body is better nourished. All my clients report this phenomena and are surprised that after just a couple of weeks on the MicroRicheTM diet, they no longer need large quantities of food.

Developing healthy habits takes time, perseverance, and a strong desire to break free from dieting and food anxiety, and aging habits. Working with a nutritionist will pave the way to healthier habits, better nourishment and a balance of nutrients that will keep weight adequate and help in disease prevention.

Source: 1. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings

Dominique Hoffman, MS, CNS
(703) 639-7063