Be a Frugal Eater – Add Life to Your Years Rather Than Just Adding Years to Your Life

  • Staying slim, there is a huge genetic component to it and its much harder work for some people than it is for others to stay trim.
  • Ideally, the amount and types of food we eat should be tailored to who we are - our genetic disposition to gaining weight, how we metabolise sugars, how we store fat and other physiological fluxes that are beyond our scope.
  • Eat frugally, so that life can indeed be added to years, rather than just years added to life.

We all know people who eat like horses yet are as skinny as rakes, while others seem to pile on the pounds just thinking about food. At the heart of the difference is metabolism, the sum of the chemical reactions occurring in the body at any given time. Clearly there is more to it than a simple balance between calories eaten and calories burned through exercise. Regardless of whether your metabolism is fast or slow, our bodies are designed to store excess energy in fat cells. So if you eat and drink more calories (energy “intake”) than your body expends (energy “output”) you will gain weight. On the other hand, if you eat and drink fewer calories than are burned through everyday activities (including exercise, rest and sleep), you will lose weight.

Marilyn Monroe was known for her breakfast selection: two raw eggs whipped in raw milk.

A common feature that seems to prevail amongst those who have achieved fame and fortune is that they are “Frugal Eaters.” Clinical physiologist Leanne Redman, who headed the study at Pennington Biomedical Research Centre in Baton Rouge, says those who eat a restricted diet, have a slower metabolism and become more efficient. “Basically it just means that cells are needing less oxygen in order to generate the energy the body needs to survive; and so the body and the cells are becoming more energy efficient. If less oxygen is needed to burn energy, then dangerous byproducts of that burning –  free radicals can be reduced. Oxygen can actually be damaging to tissues and cells, and so if the cells have become more efficient, then they’ve got less oxygen left over that can cause this damage. And that damage can accelerate aging.” The study found that blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides were lower in those who follow severe calorie restriction. When these numbers are high they can lead to life-shortening diseases. This study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism in 2018.

John Mackey, 66 years old CEO of “Whole Foods” won’t touch a frozen meal or anything processed. His breakfast is either a smoothie consisting of seasonally fresh fruits, almond milk, raw cacao, flax seeds or walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids and either kale, spinach or collard greens or steel cut oats, has an early 11 lunch at Whole Foods buffet line. His dinner is at 7 consisting of steamed vegetables, any kind of bean or lentil with nut sauce.

Julie Mattison from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in the United States envisions a time when chronological age ticks by with every year, but biological age can be set to a different timer, where elderly doesn’t mean what it does now. To paraphrase and update a speech from John Kennedy given in the first White House Conference on Aging in 1961, life can indeed be added to years, rather than just years added to life. Elon Musk the Tesla and SpaceX founder rises at 7 am, usually skips breakfast, occasionally grabs a quick coffee and an omelette. He ends up getting most of his calories later in the day. “Business dinners are probably where I eat way too much,” he told Auto Bild.

Marilyn Monroe was proud of her sexiness, she was known most notably for her breakfast selection: two raw eggs whipped in raw milk. She also skipped lunch regularly, and ate either liver, steak or lamb for dinner. Her own indulgence was a hot-fudge sundae. When she wasn’t creating her own eating plan, Monroe followed the diuretic diet. It features foods with high potassium and diuretics, and is used to decrease fluid retention.

With the exception of weekends, Madonna follows a strict macrobiotic diet that eliminates meat, dairy, wheat and eggs. The star foods in this eating plan are “sea vegetables”, which are in the seaweed realm, but rich in minerals and dietary fiber. Some other staples include tofu and sauerkraut. The lack of actual food in this diet explains why Madonna can still pull off leotards.

Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen don’t eat strawberries, but they also don’t eat white sugar, white flour, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, or eggplants. So what do they eat? According to their chef Alan Campbell, “80 percent ….vegetables….and whole grains :brown rice, quinoa, millet, beans. The other 20 percent is lean meats grass-fed organic steak, duck every now and then and chicken.”

Genes determine hair and eye color. Genetics also determines the size of your jeans, but one can fight the odds and not tip the scales with diet and exercise. Webmd has a beautiful article on FTO Gene. The Biggest Loser is an American competition reality show that has run on NBC for 17 seasons, from 2004 – 2016, it is shaping up for a return to television in 2020 on USA network. According to, ”physicians and nutritionists worry the show’s focus on competitive weight loss is, at best counterproductive and at worst, dangerous”.  The weight-loss regimen used in the show – severe caloric restriction combined with up to six hours a day of strenuous exercise – involves health risks. The show probably inspires some overweight people to regain control of their lives.

Body mass index (BMI) is a value derived from the mass (weight) and height of a person. The BMI is defined as the body mass divided by the square of the body height, and is universally expressed in units of kg/m2, resulting from mass in kilograms and height in metres.

Susan Roberts, a dietary scientist at Tufts University in Boston, says she personally has a genetic history of obesity running thorough her family and she practices a flexible form of caloric restriction. ”I keep my BMI at 22, and (have calculated) that that requires eating 80% of what I would eat if my BMI was at 30 like every other member of my family”. She follows her own weight management programme using a tool called iDiet to help her eat less but avoid feeling hungry or deprived of enjoyment. If this isn’t possible, she adds she wouldn’t practice calorie restriction.

The two major hurdles – sedentary lifestyle and fat filled diet should be overcome by grit, determination and will power. We often overlook the simple fact that adopting a healthy lifestyle will support a slim waist and a healthy weight. While different strategies work for different people, scientific evidence indicates that individuals who effectively maintain a lean shape overtime stick to similar eating and activity habits. Get to know the subtle physical cues your body gives. Recognize, trust and respect your body’s hunger and satiety signals. If you are hungry, eat, if you are not hungry, don’t eat! Beth Warren,MS,RDN,CDN, founder of Beth Warren Nutrition and author of Living a Real life with Real food says,”if you choose foods that are high in fiber, protein, and healthy fats, you maybe consuming more calories in that serving, but it will help you eat less overall and be healthier”.

You are typically at your best when you are accountable to someone else, this is instilled in you at a young age, be it to your parents, teachers, coaches, bosses. This pressure motivates you to stay on the top of things and helps keep in line. But being accountable to your own health and wellness is extremely difficult. Because when it comes to your body, you are only accountable to yourself. It’s easy to push your health aside when you have no one else to answer. You have no outside pressure motivating you throughout the day, no one to monitor what you eat and when you are eating. So why do you embrace accountability on the business side of your lives but not the health side? This is because we give ourselves lowest accountability. We take our health for granted, our body and our job need to work in tandem or we risk losing them both.

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Madhavi Vudayagiri

Writing and reading has always been my hobby. I would never buy a greeting card to wish a family member or a close friend, instead I would compose a poem highlighting their qualities and greet them. Having been in the field of teaching, studying people is what I do best. Creative writing is my forte, in order to hone my creative gene, I acquired a diploma in creative writing. I love to probe people's minds and try and understand their thought process. This website seems to be just what I am looking for!

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