January is always the same. Everyone feels bloated after several weeks of cookies, comfort foods, champagne, martini’s and chocolate. At the same time, the local gyms and designer work out clothing lines are pounding out special deals like no tomorrow, protein shake ads pop up on social media, and Marie Osmond convinces you to try her mail order meal plan.
January is also one of the coldest months of the year. Who wants to drink frozen protein shakes and pick up a new jogging routine when it is freezing outside? It is just plain unnatural! While many of us know from experience that diets usually don’t work, the temptation renews each and every year. We buy all the stuff, have high hopes, fall off the wagon, and drift back into old habits.
How about a new strategy this year- something that is fun, and has far more benefits than just fitting into the skinny jeans. Ready?
Share your meals.
Drink wine with friends.
That’s it! Welcome to the Silvernest Diet for 2017.
Studies from Johns Hopkins show if we take the time to cook our food, we tend to make healthier meals, and to eat less. Also, when we cook for friends, the hormones released offer tremendous health benefits, even if the meal isn’t all tofu and raw veggies!
For those baby boomers and beyond who may be living in an empty nest, retired or longtime single, eating alone is never fun. Make 2017 your year to set a goal to have several meals per week with friends and family.
Here are some suggestions:
Invite a friend over for a walk, followed by a home made lunch once a week.
Create a “traveling supper club” with a group of friends. Each month the host makes the main dish and everyone else brings sides.
If you have a housemate, make a point to cook together on the weekends. A few larger meals can be shared throughout the week, and saves money for both of you!
Dan Buettner, the New York Times bestselling author of The Blue Zones studied the groups of people around the world who lived the longest. For a healthy alternative to New Year’s resolutions, try following their suggested “Blue Zones Power 9.”
- Move Naturally
The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about it. They grow gardens and don’t have mechanical conveniences for house and yard work.
The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy
- Down Shift
Even people in the Blue Zones experience stress. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. What the world’s longest-lived people have that we don’t are routines to shed that stress. Okinawans take a few moments each day to remember their ancestors, Adventists pray, Ikarians take a nap and Sardinians do happy hour.
- 80% Rule
“Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals reminds them to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full. The 20% gap between not being hungry and feeling full could be the difference between losing weight or gaining it. People in the Blue Zones eat their smallest meal in the late afternoon or early evening and then they don’t eat any more the rest of the day.
- Plant Slant
Beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the cornerstone of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month. Serving sizes are 3-4 oz., about the size of a deck of cards.
- Wine @ 5
People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine), with friends and/or with food. And no, you can’t save up all weekend and have 14 drinks on Saturday.
All but five of the 263 centenarians we interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy.
- Loved Ones First
Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home. (It lowers disease and mortality rates of children in the home, too). They commit to a life partner (which can add up to 3 years of life expectancy) and invest in their children with time and love. (They’ll be more likely to care for you when the time comes).
- Right Tribe
The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life. Research from the Framingham Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.
For added inspiration, Michael Polland’s Netflix documentary Cooked is an enlightening and compelling look at the evolution of what food means to us through the history of food preparation and its universal ability to connect us. In it he explores the most elemental aspects of food, and why drifting away from the ritual of preparing food pulls us away from the most fundamental nature of our being.
What are your tips for being happy and healthy with friends this year? Share on our Facebook page!
You can learn more about homesharing at Silvernest.com – Silvernest boldly breaks the rules of aging so you can share your home on your own terms. We’re creating the next generation of roommates. A more modern kind. A well-matched kind. A kind that’s just your style. Because around here, the details are totally up to you.