Growing older and gaining a few pounds might seem to go hand-in-hand, but that doesn't have to be the case. Fitness Magazine reveals that most adults add another 3.4 pounds to the scales every four years, a finding that speaks to lifestyle choices, not biology.
"Weight gain isn't inevitable if you arm yourself with age-specific strategies to prevent it," says Elisa Zied, RD, the author of Younger Next Week. Here, a host of nutrition experts pinpoint the biggest health traps you face in your 20s and 30s, and what to eat to avoid them. Stock your fridge with these five foods to avoid the most common health mistakes in your 20s and 30s.
In Your 20s
The Trap: Eating out. Restaurant portions aside, studies show that eating with friends is likely to result in overeating. A study published in Physiology & Behavior found that people consume 18% more when they dine in a group.
"'I'm going out to dinner, so I'll have a light lunch.' Sound familiar? Though it seems logical to save up your calories, people often end up consuming more in the end," says Alice Domar, Ph.D., a co-author of Live a Little!
The Fix: If your lifestyle involves regularly dining out, Domar recommends stocking your fridge with protein-packed staples. Eat a small portion of protein before arriving at a restaurant, like a hard-boiled egg or Greek yogurt; It'll keep you from overeating and keep your appetite at bay.
In Your 30s
The Trap: Stress. A study in the American Psychological Association suggests Gen Xers have higher stress levels than Boomers, which could take a serious toll on your health. "Stress spikes levels of the hormone cortisol, which is a triple threat for weight gain," explains Scott Isaacs, MD. "Cortisol not only increases your appetite, but it also slows your metabolism and prompts your body to store fat."
The Fix: Fill your cart with oranges, red peppers, and sweet potatoes, which are high in cortisol-lowering vitamin C. Studies show that dehydration could increase cortisol levels, so keep a carafe of water at your desk and be sure to check the sodium level of food like canned soups and bread.
What do you eat to counteract stress and overeating when you dine out?