Food to eat in your 20s
Think that just because you’re young and your metabolism is in high gear that you don’t need to worry about nutrition? Think again, says Keith Kantor, PhD, nutritional scientist and CEO of NAMED, a program designed to help people conquer food addictions. “This is the critical decade for young adults; what you eat now sets the foundation and habits for a life of health or health problems,” he says.
What’s on the menu: Lots and lots of fresh fruits and veggies as these provide the nutrients your still-developing body and brain need. Aim to eat at least nine servings of produce a day, with a 3:1 ratio of vegetables to fruit, he advises. It’s also important to drink plenty of water as it moves nutrients through the body, controls appetite and cravings, and boosts athletic and brain performance, he adds. Bonus: Both of these tips are on the list of 50 science-backed ways to lose weight without exercise.
Food to avoid in your 20s
Bad news for college students everywhere: Dorm-room favorites like ramen, take-out, doughnuts, and soda are setting you up for a lifetime of health problems, Kantor says. It’s OK to have a treat once in a while but try to avoid deep-fried foods, pastries, and candy. It’s especially important to cut out sugary beverages like coffee specialty drinks, sodas, sports drinks, and even fruit juice (just eat the fruit instead), he adds.
There’s one more beverage that’s super popular in your 20s that you should avoid: Booze. This may be the decade of late-night cocktails and weekend-long parties but drinking too much alcohol can lead to disrupted sleep and unwanted weight gain, not to mention the damage you’re doing to your liver will haunt you for decades to come, says Ginger Hultin, RDN, a Seattle-based registered dietitian, nutritionist and Arivale coach.