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AGING IS A CHOICE Part 7 – Getting More by Eating Less 

By Robert Manni

When I was growing up eating three square meals a day was the norm. Breakfast was considered the most important meal of the day. Kids were encouraged to clean their plates at every meal. Sound familiar?

Times have changed, and my dietary habits have shifted drastically for the better. These days, I eat less and, contrary to what I was told growing up, I have more energy and feel more alive. 

Like many of you, changing my eating habits didn’t come easily. Growing up in an Italian American household, food was the center of our family gatherings. Besides the delicious dishes and sustenance, food served as a display of love. When your mother, aunt or Nana slid a heaping plate of pasta, veal, or an indulgent dessert in front of you, you ate it. It was a wonderful way to grow up. But this kind of eating didn’t feel so good as I got older.

Over the years my metabolism slowed, and even though I was always involved in competitive sports, including completing three marathons, I began to gain weight. Managing my waistline and health was a constant battle. My cholesterol shot up and I had two health scares with my kidneys. I knew something had to be done or I would have been in some serious trouble. When I met my future wife, she was a vegetarian. Without any prodding, I felt inspired to give up eating meat. The process of becoming pescatarian took two years. That was thirteen years ago, and I was feeling healthier, but still not losing enough weight.

About three years ago I began fasting with my wife. She’s a real pro, and we started to fast together. The fasts would be weeklong to just a few days. The childhood programming to eat three meals a day subsided when I began feeling better, lighter, cleaner. My waistline shrank and my bloodwork came back better than ever. Subsequently, I fully adopted intermittent fasting as a lifestyle. I begin eating at noon and stop at six or seven in the evening. By eating less, I have been getting more out of life, like keeping up with my son who loves playing baseball,  biking, swimming, and riding the waves together. I’ve also developed my own diet technique that I’ll share in the future.

For those of you who might still be wary of fasting, here is a quick overview of the benefits. We lose weight when we eat less. Well, that’s obvious, but still worth a reminder. Fasting also supports immunity, lowers inflammation, lessens blood sugar, cleans up our cells, speeds up fat burning, and increases energy metabolism. And these are just a few of the benefits of fasting!

There are many ways to fast too, so if you are interested in giving it a try, don’t be concerned that you will be starving yourself, or that your body will react negatively and you will get sick. Most likely the opposite will happen as your body sheds unhealthy cells with replaces them with healthy ones. You don’t need to go on a water fast for health benefits. Intermittent fasting where you eat during a window of hours during the day,  brings many of the same benefits over time.

In my experience, getting through the first two or three days of a fast were the hardest. Then my brain fog lifted, and I began feeling surprisingly good. Since integrating fasting into my lifestyle, even factoring in the wear and tear we all experience over the years, I feel better now than I did thirty years ago. IF still works for me. I still love an occasional treat like shrimp parmigiana, but overall, I have evolved to a more mindful, healthy diet.

Let’s face it, we eat way more food than is necessary and as we age it becomes more difficult to burn it off and manage our weight. Even if fasting is not for you, reevaluating what you eat, why you eat, and when you eat may reveal some helpful ways to integrate healthier choices into your life.

Until next time, let’s keep growing younger together!