This week we are joined by Dr. Mary Claire Haver to learn more about how to approach nutrition in middle age. She has some great tips that are relevant to anyone! Take a read and see what speaks to you. Remember, it’s all about balance and finding a way of eating that fits with your goals, needs, and life. I hope you enjoy.
First of all, what does the phrase “age well” mean? Achieving a certain weight? No. Not by any means. Aging well sets your body up for success by establishing habits to encourage overall health and wellness, and lowering your current risk for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
As we age, we inevitably gain more and more responsibilities – it is a common theme. Whether it be raising children, taking care of our aging parents, climbing the ladder at work, or a combination of the three – we tend to neglect our own health and wellness, both mentally and physically, to compensate for the lack of time and energy to do otherwise. The first and most important step in aging well is to put yourself first.
Yes, you read that correctly. In my 40s I began to experience frustration with mid- life weight gain and a sense that I had lost control of my health. My usual mantra of “eat less, exercise more,” that worked fabulously in my 20s and 30s, was no longer working.
I began digging into the literature to figure how to combat this mid-life change in my health. After years researching and testing different theories found in the scientific literature and these are the three that proved to provide the best results for myself, my friends, and the over 22,000 students enrolled in the program I ultimately created called the Galveston Diet.
The three things that will radically change your health are:
- Intermittent fasting
- Anti-inflammatory foods
- Fuel refocusing.
These three components work synergistically to obtain optimal scale, and most importantly, non-scale benefits.
Intermittent fasting is essentially fasting for 16 consecutive hours in a day and eating within an 8-hour, consecutive eating window. I promise it is easier than it sounds; many are initially daunted by the idea because we are groomed by a society that insists breakfast within an hour or two of waking is absolutely necessary for optimal health.
These are about as simple as it sounds – we decrease, with the eventual goal of eliminate, amounts of pro-inflammatory foods consumed while increasing consumption of foods that actively fight inflammation.
This is all about macros. Calorie counting is non- existent on this plan – which is another common mental block initially tough to overcome – we aim to achieve an optimal ratio of fat: protein: carbohydrate to help us feel our best and reach out goals.
Below are 10 amazing benefits you can experience when you harness the power of intermittent fasting, anti-inflammatory foods and fuel refocusing.
 Better quality of sleep – yes, I am talking about the good stuff: obtaining an uninterrupted, sound night of sleep here. This was a game changer for me as I didn’t even fully realize the poor quality of sleep I was obtaining before until I started getting a consistent amount of quality sleep and boy did I feel a whole lot better!
 Decreased “brain fog” – by this I mean more mental clarity. I was having less of those “losing my train of thought” moments in conversations, becoming extremely more productive, and overall feeling more efficient with my time and work. My cognitive capacity, memory, and functioning appeared to dramatically increase.
 Fasting improves neural connections & protects against the accumulation of amyloid plaques – I know that is throwing a lot of science words at you… so let me explain. Amyloid plaques are clumps of misfolded proteins in the brain that can be very dangerous when accumulated. As we go through the natural aging process, the formation of these plaques will inevitably increase, but IF can drastically decrease the rate at which this occurs. This is fabulous news as, in conjunction, your risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases decreases, too. I’m talking about Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s etc. *Not to be misleading… I am not saying you will not develop these diseases, but by making these proactive, preventative changes in your life, you automatically are decreasing your risk of developing these illnesses. Wouldn’t you rather age knowing you are doing everything in your power to combat these possibilities? I know at least I would.
 Decreased risk of obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc. – the common denominator here appears to be the association between increased artificial, added, processed sugar consumption and higher risks of developing the diseases mentioned above. Fat tissue, in excess, essentially acts as its own organ and constantly inflames the body. This buildup of chronic inflammation dysregulates blood sugar, blood pressure, hormones, insulin levels, you name it – many of which are risk factors for obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. *Again, it is important to note that I am not advocating that if you follow the three components of the Galveston Diet, you will never be diagnosed with these conditions; rather, you are doing everything in your power to decrease the risk.
5] Elevated Mood (and decreased risk of depression) – I genuinely felt happier after consistently following this program. Heck, my children even noticed my elevated mood! My mood swings, associated with the onset of menopause, dramatically decreased as well. There are studies that show risks of depression are decreased when a healthy diet with little to no added or artificial sugar is consumed.
 Fasting enhances neural plasticity of mitochondrial networks. – Again, sorry for the medical jargon but in plain English, intermittent fasting allows your brain to stay adaptable and flexible. After all, evolutionary speaking, our ancestors “practiced” intermittent fasting. Food was not readily available to them like it is in today’s society. Brief periods of fasting allow you to become more resilient to stress, hardships, and life in general. Mitochondrial networks are preserved so that they can continue to efficiently use energy and perform their daily functions. Remember, high school biology – “the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell”?! – that is the same concept here… we want to preserve our “powerhouses” and make them as efficient as possible.
 More energy – this benefit may coincide with the increased sleep quality. My energy levels are now off the charts. I am a 51-year-old women who works out every single day. Granted, I am not perfect and do sometimes miss a day because life gets in the way BUT it is not because my body can’t handle it or I don’t have the energy for it. 10 years ago… now, that’s a different story. I could come up with a laundry list of excuses to not get my work out in, all boiling down to feeling genuinely exhausted. I simply did not have the energy. Now, not only can I do it, but I look forward to my daily work outs and have the energy to do so. For that, I am eternally grateful.
 Decreased joint pains – I think this non-scale benefit is due to the powerful anti- inflammatory component of The Galveston Diet. I am sure many of you know exactly what I am referring to with the term “joint pains” and let me tell you – mine are almost non-existent! What a blessing!
 Decreased intensity and severity of hot flashes – yes. You read that correctly. For any of you entering or experiencing menopause, let me tell you – this program changed the game for me! My menopausal symptoms are significantly decreased due to the anti-inflammatory nature of the Galveston Diet, which is exactly what I intended when I created it.
 Weight Loss – this is obviously a benefit and a huge driving factor when committing to a lifestyle change but I challenge you to not let weight loss consume your motivation or be your definition of success. I listed it last for a reason – you WILL most likely lose weight on this plan but after reading all of the above non-scale benefits can we agree that there are multiple reasons commit to a healthy change?! To be completely honest, I get many more comments from enrollees that the non-scale benefits are the most life-changing and fulfilling changes, not the weight loss that accompanies it.
What to learn more?
Hopefully the items above have given you a starting point to try to take charge of your health, especially mid-life. If you’d like to learn more about my program, feel free to contact me below.
The Galveston Diet Signature Program is a self-paced, online course that provides a guideline for exactly how to do so. Combining intermittent fasting with an anti-inflammatory approach to nutrition and macro ratios that optimize fat burning is the key to success.
Remember that lifestyle changes and habit creation that LASTS takes time, patience, and effort. We are human so you will have some speed bumps but the results in the end will feel so worth it. But I will say you will NEVER regret healthy aging!!
Please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comments – I’d love to connect with you. Also, follow me on Facebook at “The Galveston Diet” and Instagram @thegalvestondiet