Let’s face it, when we are over 50, losing weight seems like playing in a rugby game with twenty somethings on steroids. Its hard! Most of us are wanting to find the best ways to bring the numbers down on the scale, but there are a few things you should keep in mind before you choose the “how“. Then we will get to the best diets for women over 50 based on science – not on what’s in your twitter feed, or what the latest celebrity is touting. Science. Just a quick legal mumbo jumbo disclaimer, I am not a doctor, or a medical professional. I AM a woman over 50 (who has fought that same weight loss battle as most of you have) sharing healthy diet plans verified by science, and backed up by credible sources. So, first, why do you want to lose weight? Yep. We’re going there…
Best Diets for Women Over 50
Weight Loss for the Right Reasons
I think women over 50 have something really important in common… we were all raised into young women during the 80’s, which was a time where society’s expectations about our looks were not particularly healthy. It was a time when the foundations for our body image were laid down, and many of us were taught either directly or indirectly that our looks were our power. Now, if you are one of those ladies who were able to escape that toxic imaging, then all the rest of us are collectively high fiving you right now. But many of us were taught that our worth depended on us looking like Elle McPherson or Cindy Crawford. Luckily, people evolve. Today there is a movement teaching young women about positive body image, and that their worth is in who they are, not what they look like. Is it perfect? Well, given that eating disorders are rampant, and we still see young women on the runway that look emaciated, not yet. But there is a strong trend towards healthy bodies, and it’s time we ladies over 50 reprogram ourselves. So, when thinking about losing weight, consider these points…
- Who are you wanting to lose weight for? Is it you? If so, awesome. But look close. Set your goals based on what you want for yourself. Not on how you will look to some strangers on the beach, not for what size you buy at the store. No, not even for your significant other. You.
- Realize that no one is supposed to look at 50 or 60 like they did at 25. No One. Just because society norms in 1985 told you that, doesn’t make it true. So give yourself permission to not strive for what is unnatural. Instead, seek a healthy version of you today.
- Reframe what a diet is for you. Instead of measuring your thighs, or weighing yourself daily, focus on getting heathy. And staying healthy. Make your goal about living a healthy life, full of energy and positive feelings. Life is too short too never eat a slice of cake. But just remember, balance your less healthy choices with better ones. Because that is the way to develop a lifestyle you can stick with.
- I am not suggesting that you are going to be able to magically not care about the way you look. I dont think that’s a reasonable goal anyway, we all deserve to feel pretty. But ask yourself what would make you feel pretty. Perhaps if you can let go of those visions of supermodels from the 80’s, or even the JLos of today, you can set a goal that is reasonable, and that allows you to enjoy life and feel good and be healthy. Maybe instead of shooting for a size 4, shoot for a healthy 10? Or a healthy whatever size you end up being. Size is only a number, it’s your physical and mental health we care about here. Everyone has a different set point that is just right for them.
- Don’t look at weight loss as “dieting”. (I know, I know, I use the word “diet” repeatedly in this post. It’s only for reference, ladies. Look at the big picture!) You’ve heard it before, but really, this is about making a lifestyle choice. Eating healthy and getting exercise does so much more than just help you lose weight. It can help regulate your hormones, improve your mental health, reduce inflammation, and head off certain health conditions before they start. And if you are like me, and already suffer from health issues, good food and exercise can be so healing. Of course, in conjunction with your doctors treatment. But when you have a healthy foundation, it makes dealing with medical challenges so much easier. Ok, let’s get at it, the best diets for women over 50!
Diets for Women Over 50
The Mediterranean Diet
The first diet on our list is The Mediterranean Diet. Why first? Because its the one I follow. Ever heard of “The Blue Zones“? Dan Buettner is a best selling author who coined the term. He discovered there were certain places around the world where people lived the longest, and he set out to study why the people in those areas had such a long and healthy life. One of the blue zones is the Mediterranean. And According to the Mayo Clinic, this diet is considered one of the healthiest on earth. Plant based, it is full of fruits and veggies, but also healthy fats like olive oil, nuts and avocados. Moderate amounts of wine and dark chocolate are allowed, and whole grains too. It’s a diet that doesn’t forbid anything, but encourages exploring healthy foods. Because it includes carbs from veggies, fruits and whole grains, it can help women over 50 to deal with insulin resistance and weight gain. And come on, a diet that allows red wine? My kind of diet. But more than that, this is a lifestyle. Just picture yourself eating al fresco at a villa in the Italian countryside, drinking red wine, and eating a slice of rosemary focaccia bread dipped in olive oil and garlic, followed by roasted veggies and fresh prawns. Small squares of dark chocolate and a scoop of gelato finish this culinary experience. And this, my friends, is the Mediterranean diet. And editors note : You don’t need to be on a terrace in Italy to have that same experience! Keep in mind that word… Italy, Greece, and Spain, they all make eating an experience. That is the key to getting the same pleasure from healthy food as you would from a giant milkshake.
The Flexitarian diet is another diet for women over 50 that is not based on strict rules. (Love that.) It is plant based diet that allows small portions of dairy and meat to be included on occasion. This diet allows you to get the benefits of a vegetarian diet, but is also a heart and bone healthy choice for post menopausal women. Once again, this diet is rich in fruits and veggies and full of fiber, which helps keep our blood sugar in check and our weight down. And you can tweak this diet as necessary to be able to eat out, or enjoy celebrations. Just remember, moderation in all these diets is key. According to the National Institute of Health, this type of diet shows evidence of reduced risk of diabetes, lowers blood pressure and improves symptoms in digestive disorders, in addition to weigh loss.
Intuitive eating is exactly what we’ve been talking about – learning to honor your body, and to eat in a healthy way. There is no calorie counting, no “diet”, and no guilt. No merry go round, and no forbidden foods. In short, it’s the mental health version of weight loss. The idea is to retrain yourself to have a positive relationship with food, so that eventually you will be able to eat only until you are full, listening to your body’s own cues. It also forces you to look at why you want to eat those chocolate doughnuts. And when you know why, you can make choices. This is a diet (not a diet) that allows you to totally restructure your relationship with food. Which means, it has the potential for permanent weight loss, and improved mental health as well. Check out all the principles at ‘Health’ magazine.
The Paleo Diet
Paleo can be a great diet for women over 50 because it cuts unhealthy simple carbs, but unlike keto, encourages healthy cuts of meat and healthy fats. A study at Umea University in Sweden found that the Paleo diet helped older women lose weight, reduce their risk of diabetes and heart diseases, and that women were not required to restrict their calorie intake in order to see these benefits! This diet includes foods that people ate during the Paleolithic era, up to 2 million years ago. Lean meat, fish, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds are the mainstay of this low glycemic diet. Dairy, grains and legumes are avoided. This is probably the most restrictive diet on our list, but we feel it’s worth including because many women report rapid weight loss, without the potentially unhealthy fats and meat products included in the some versions of the popular Keto diet. You can find an expansive explanation of the Paleo VS. Keto debate and the risks associated with both diets at ‘US News and World Report’.
Clean Eating (Whole Foods Diet)
We like the Whole Foods, Clean Eating style of diet because its another “un-diet”. This is more about a lifestyle, than just about losing weight. And that’s kind of the point were trying to make here, right? That you deserve a whole life plan, instead of a quick diet focusing on weight loss alone. Clean eating is about eating whole, minimally processed foods. It is plant based, but is flexible enough to allow clean, lean cuts of meat on occasion. Because it cuts processed grains and sugars, a study found that people that ate a plant based diet like Whole Foods lost significantly more weight than those who ate a meat based diet. According to ‘Web MD’ , the phytochemicals in a plant based diet included powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants are known to help prevent disease. Also, the fiber rich foods are linked to controlling blood sugar and cholesterol. This lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Healthy Foods for Aging
No matter what diet (or non diet) you choose, make sure you include plenty of healthy food choices. The National Institute on Aging has put together this list called Smart Food Choice for Healthy Aging.
And BTW ladies, aging is not a dirty word. Let’s all try just a little harder to embrace the wisdom, joy and freedoms that comes with being a certain age. And hopefully, when we look in the mirror, we see more of the wonderful woman who bore children to make this world a better place, or who has conquered struggles, and brightened lives and loved deeply. A woman who has tremendous worth and beauty just because of who she is. And those of around us? If they don’t see that, then that’s sad… but for them. Don’t be part of the shallow nature of that kind of thinking. Set an example for all the women to follow us. And be kind to yourself. You are so much more than a number on a scale. Check out our post on The Only Weight Loss Solutions You Need for more healthy weight loss support!