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Putting the 'Fiftysomething Diet' to the Ultimate Test

If it can work for me — a guy who has eaten so many chicken wings I may actually sprout a pair — it can work for anyone

By Larry Carlat

I am fiftysomething and desperately need to go on a diet. (I put “desperately” in italics after I had pretzels and chocolate chip cookies for dinner last night.)

Luckily, I work at the right place: Next Avenue has been posting articles about dieting for fiftysomethings ever since we launched last May. Yet it has taken me all this time (and 20 extra pounds) to finally put our advice to the test. If it can work for me — a guy who has eaten so many chicken wings I may actually sprout a pair — it can work for anyone.

I was too late to partake in the Super Bowl-inspired mango-tomatillo guacamole, curried popcorn and caramelized onion hummus all scrumptiously featured in 5 Super Healthy Bowls. But those suggestions did make me regret all the spinach dip, pigs in blankets and fried chicken I consumed last Sunday night. Regret is always a good place to start.

Speaking of good starts, this morning I punted on my usual everything bagel with scallion cream cheese and instead greeted the day with plain Greek yogurt, granola and strawberries per 5 Ways to Make a More Healthful Breakfast. It was absolutely delicious, but even more surprisingly, I felt more energetic than I have in years. Which naturally made me crave more of that feeling, so I quickly perused Four Ways to Get More Energy and learned that drinking plenty of water (I’m already on my fourth of 13 suggested daily cups) while passing on sweets and coffee, should help me avoid an energy crash. This health stuff is so freaking cool — I can’t wait until lunch.

(MORE: The Fiftysomething Diet)

Literally! I’m starving! The good news is there are plenty of yummy, healthy snacks to munch on. Adios, Cool Ranch Doritos; hola, 10 Yummy, Healthy Snacks. I happily nibbled away at raisin, cranberry and peanut gorp (183 calories) and savored each and every one of my 10 allotted almonds while sipping a skinny latte (150 calories). Then I scarfed down an apple (100 calories), gnawing it right down to the core. Tomorrow I’ll try not to eat all these snacks at once.
Gorp, almonds and latte aren’t exactly the most manly sounding foods, so before strapping on the old feed bag again, I skimmed (see, this diet stuff is already working!) The 5 Foods Men Need to Eat. And what do you know? Tomatoes help prevent prostate cancer, flaxseed lowers cholesterol, whole grain cereal is good for your heart, bananas and oranges keep your blood pressure in check and chocolate (yes, chocolate!) lowers the risk of stroke.

So it was a no-brainer to have lots and lots of chocolate for lunch. Just kidding! I ate a small pan-seared salmon fillet with blanched spinach, which coincidentally just happen to be two food groups (Omega-3 fats and carotenoids) that are vital for eye health, according to What to Eat to Protect Your Vision. And all along, I’d thought salmon and spinach merely tasted great. Who knew?

All this healthy consumption got me thinking that I also need to get back into shape. But before making a move in that direction, I wondered what I should be ingesting instead of (or in addition to) my usual pre-workout repast of an overripe banana, Diet Coke and chewing gum. Workout Foods to Fuel Your Boomer Body recommends something called “whey protein,” which helps stimulate muscle building, as well as fish oil, more water and fewer carbs. I opted for another cup of Greek yogurt then ran like the wind for almost three miles.


(MORE: Fiftysomething Diet: Healthy Food Swaps)

In the good old days (which means every day before today), I would’ve congratulated myself on a successful jog by chowing down on a medium-rare rib eye, but I’ve come too far, too fast to throw today’s hard work away. So I thought, “What would the Fiftysomething Diet say about that?”

Well, 8 Great New Meat Alternatives advises curtailing red meat consumption (which increases the risk of heart disease and prostate cancer) in favor of such substitutes as Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders, Nate's Savory Mushroom Meatless Meatballs and Sunshine Burgers Black Bean Southwest Veggie Burger.

Now I’d love to tell you that I tried Nate’s Meatless Meatballs or Sunshine’s Veggie Burger, that I couldn’t tell the difference between them and the real thing, that they were even better tasting than the meat-filled meatballs and greasy hamburgers I’m used to. But that was just too much to choke down on the first day.

Like all diets say — everything in moderation.

Larry Carlat served as managing editor for Next Avenue. He is a writer and editor who lives in Venice, Calif. Read More
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