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In December I introduced you to MESH, what renowned geriatrician Dr. Bill Thomas refers to as the key to healthy aging. As you might recall, it’s an acronym that stands for Move, Eat, Sleep, Heal. According to Dr. Thomas, neglecting to do any one of these things can have dire consequences as we age. This month we will focus on the “E” (eat).

In the words of Dr. Thomas, “In order to be well, we need to eat well.” So what exactly does that mean? It seems every other day you can read about some food that scientists first thought was good for you but have since changed their minds and now claim it is bad for you. It’s enough to drive you crazy. It’s no wonder we tend to throw our hands in the air and say “whatever” and stop paying attention to what we eat altogether.

If there isn’t a medical reason for you to do so (such as being diabetic or having high blood pressure), rather than focus on specific foods, you should focus on the big picture. Take a look at your plate. It should be very colorful and contain primarily plants. In other words, it should consist mostly of a variety of fruits and vegetables. Research has shown that plant-based diets are good for our muscles, bones, hearts and brains and just about every other organ in our body. Meat should not be the main course, but should be considered a side dish and consist of fish or poultry.

You also need to remember to eat, and to eat throughout the day. As we get older, our taste buds change and food just doesn’t taste the same anymore*. As a result, we tend not to eat or pack all our calories into one meal at the end of the day. Our bodies work better, however, if we spread our calorie intake throughout the day. Three to six small meals spread throughout the day is much better than one large meal right before we go to bed. Both our blood sugar levels and our metabolism remain more stable if we graze rather than gorge.

While it might be a challenge at first to make the switch recommended above, if you stick with it you will probably find you are less fatigued, are better able to control your weight, have a whole lot more energy and simply feel better. For more information on healthy eating, visit www.choosemyplate.gov.

*To compensate for your changing taste buds, try experimenting with a variety of different spices. You might be surprised just how tasty food can once again be.