The Hungry Woman's Guide to Healthy Eating

These five over-40 diet experts manage to dine like real people — and still feel great

By Kristyn Kusek Lewis
Photograph: Photo by: iStockphoto

A. I did the yo-yo thing with weight until I was in my early 40s. I lost it for good when I decided to reduce everything I eat by 50 percent. I always leave food on my plate — it’s the "lean plate club," not the "clean plate club."

Q. When was the last time you went to a drive-through?

A. Last weekend. There’s a McDonald’s around the corner! I’ll have the Asian chicken salad with half the dressing or a small hamburger, the fruit-and-walnut salad, and water.

Q. Do you drink?

A. I’m a mojito connoisseur, but when I have one, it’s only one.

Q. What are the best snacks for midlife women?

A. Protein-rich snacks help you build more muscle, which offsets age-related muscle loss. Favorites of mine are ostrich sticks by Ostrim; they taste like healthy Slim Jims. I also love edamame, which contains phytoestrogens that can help balance that drop in estrogen you experience around menopause.

Q. What’s your favorite anti-aging meal when you don’t want to cook?

A. I pick up roasted chicken — which has muscle-building protein — from the grocery store. And spinach sauteed in garlic and olive oil, and tomato slices with balsamic vinegar. The veggies are rich in antioxidants.

Q. What do you think over-40 women can relax about?

A. Eating chocolate — it’s okay! Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that protect against free radicals and keep your heart healthy. Godiva Belgian dark chocolate ice cream is my unguilty pleasure of choice. I try to limit myself to one or two tablespoons, but I’ll admit that I’ve been known to eat an entire pint. That only happens about once a year.

Lisa Dorfman

Lisa Dorfman, MS, RD, age 46, Miami, Florida

A lifelong athlete, Dorfman has run 33 marathons since age 31. She is the sports nutritionist and an adjunct professor of exercise science at the University of Miami.

Q. You’ve been a vegetarian since high school. Do you think it has had an anti-aging benefit?

A. Absolutely. So much nutrition research now shows that plant-based foods are chock-full of antioxidants and phytonutrients and have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent health problems later in life.

Q. Are your husband and three teenagers vegetarians too?

A. Nope. I cook meat for my family most nights and do a lot of side dishes so we can pick and choose. The only thing I won’t tolerate is processed meat. It has no redeeming value. The joke is that my husband can stay out all night playing cards, but if I ever catch him with a hot dog, he’s in trouble.

Q. Do you drink?

A. There’s nothing like a cold beer, especially during a football game.

Q. If we took you to dinner, would you be one of those annoying "no salt, no sauce, no nothing" people?

A. No way. Going out means having fun. Even though I’m a vegetarian, I won’t make a fuss if something is made with beef stock. If none of the entrees sound good, I have no problem ordering three or four appetizers.

Q. If we were to sneak into your kitchen right now, what naughty surprises would we find?

A. I keep on hand huge amounts of snacky things like baked chips and soy crisps and frozen yogurt and fruit bars. I say they’re for the kids, but I love them too. There’s nothing wrong with eating between meals!

Q. Why do you buy organic?

A. I think they’re anti-aging foods. We have so many forms of pollution in our lives — noise, stress — that eating the cleanest diet possible helps me cope better with the world as I get older. I’m also sure it’s positively affected my athletic performance. I never trained as hard as my competitors, because I didn’t have time to with three kids, so I attribute my success to diet.

Q. What’s the biggest lifestyle mistake that over-40 women make?

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