We firmly believe that age is defined by mindset rather than the number of candles on your cake, but there's no denying that your body and health priorities change as each year goes by. While a fast metabolism meant you could indulge without consequence in your early 20s, the start of a new decade signals a shift in what you should eat to best nourish your body.
"As we go through life, metabolism shifts," explains Annie Kay, lead nutritionist at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. "We need fewer calories yet more nutrients to address disease and aging processes like oxidative stress and inflammation." In other words, your grocery list should change as often as your age does.
Here, we tapped six nutritionists, chefs, dermatologists, and health experts with one simple question: What is the one food you stopped eating when you turned 30? From snacks that accelerate aging to foods that cause inflammation, these are the top foods that shouldn't be in your cart.
"If you are turning the big 3-0 and want to preserve your youthful skin, then it is time to say goodbye to sugar in your diet," says Lisa Davis, CNS/LDN, chief nutrition officer at Terra’s Kitchen. "Sugar is sinfully delicious but it is also pro-inflammatory. Inflammation damages the collagen and elastin fibers that keep your skin feeling firm and elastic."
Don't think sugar is a big part of your diet? Davis says that sugar is hidden in a number of common foods, including white bread. "The average American consumes 31 teaspoons of added sugar per day!" she says. One slice of white bread contains the equivalent of 7.5 teaspoons of sugar, before adding toppings.
The take home: "If you want to hang on to that flawless face, limit your intake of white bread, fried foods, and, yes, even pizza," says Davis. "A good rule of thumb is to keep added sugar to no more than 10% of total calories."
Executive chef Tricia Williams is steadfast that one beverage should be removed from your cart. "The one food women should 100% cut out is diet soda," she says. The founder of Food Matters NYC says this artificially sweetened drink has almost no redeemable qualities, and that by your 30s, you should know better than to buy this nutritionally devoid drink.
"Aside from being linked to cancer, it causes a huge amount of stress on the body," she tells MyDomaine. "When you drink it, your mind perceives sweet and then produces insulin to metabolize sugar that isn’t there. This, in turn, causes a rise in energy followed by a huge crash. It not only puts unnecessary stress on the body, but it ends up leaving you feeling hungry, which can cause weight gain."
Hidden sugar doesn't only affect skin elasticity. Jill Javahery, board -ertified dermatologist at Comprehensive Dermatology, says she ditched condiments with hidden sugar, like peanut butter, to reduce her risk of developing health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as premature aging.
She urges that ditching sugar is particularly important in your 30s if you are considering having children. "This is especially important for women who are of childbearing age," she says, as too much sugar has been linked to obesity. "Being overweight can change your hormonal profile, making it more difficult to conceive and can cause problems during pregnancy, as well." Instead, swap out sugar and sodium-rich condiments like ketchup for spices. Cumin is believed to aid digestion while turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties.
While your 20s might have been characterized by late nights out and one too many cocktails, Annie Kay says those habits should halt in your 30s, due to shifts in your metabolism. However, the solution is easier said than done. "Reduce foods high in calories and devoid of nutrients to be your best," she says, pointing to high-sugar cocktails as a key culprit. "Alcohol and sugar are calorie-rich and nutritionally empty, so [they] are not doing you any favors. Think of them as occasional treats rather than daily stress-management aids."
L.A.-based health and wellness expert Sophie Jaffe says she is particularly conscious of foods that contain trans fats, such as store-bought pastries. "Our digestive system is the engine of our vitality, and it needs lots of nutrients and fiber to run efficiently. Cheap chips and pastries only jam the works and reduce assimilation of vitamins," she explains. "If we eliminated just those common convenience foods, we'd lift a burden and create greater access for the more nutrient-rich foods we eat, resulting in more energy and better health."
By age 30, you've spent decades consuming and digesting food and drinks, so it's crucial to consider bowel health, says Liana Werner-Gray, author of The Earth Diet and brand ambassador for Explore Cuisine. "Gluten is extremely rough on the digestive system, as it takes a lot of energy from the body to digest and break it down," she says. "Often gluten isn't well received in the gut, so it leaves us feeling bloated. It can also cause inconsistency in our excretion, cravings, and instant inflammation, which leads to weight gain."
Thankfully, she says the solution is simple. "There are so many great gluten-free alternatives out there these days that we can give up gluten for the most part and not feel like we are missing out!"
Have you ever removed refined sugar or gluten from your diet? Tell us how it went.