What you eat

Russ Miles, 60, is an industrial plumber, work that involves lugging heavy pipe work and machinery five days a week. He is an avid golfer, is 6ft tall and smokes roll-ups.


All milk is semi-skimmed

5am Tea with milk, two tsps sugar

5.15am Ditto

5.50am Coffee with milk and two tsps sugar

9.30am-3.30pm Contents of lunch box - four slices white bread and butter, tinned salmon, three small sausage rolls, two iced buns, an apple,10 Nice biscuits, about four mugs tea (eight tsps sugar)

5pm Very large Bacardi and Diet Coke, handful of brazil nuts

6.30pm Five medium roast potatoes, two pork loin chops, cauliflower, tablespoon broccoli, tinned peas, gravy, Diet Coke

6.45pm Ice cream lolly

8pm Bar of Fry's chocolate cream, diet lemonade


5.30am Tea, two tsp sugar, milk

6.30am Ditto

7.15am One egg, three mushrooms fried in sunflower oil, six rashers bacon, grilled, one slice white bread coffee with sugar and milk

8.15am Coffee, sugar and milk, water

2pm Pint of Guinness

3.30pm Two slices white bread, buttered, 2oz cheddar cheese

6pm 10oz smoked haddock, two slices white buttered bread, tea with milk and sugar

7.30pm Snickers bar, Diet Coke


5am Tea with milk, sugar

5.15am ditto

5.50am Coffee with milk, sugar

9.30am-3.30pm Lunch box containing four slices buttered white bread, jar of fish paste, box mustard and cress, four sticks celery, three thick slices cheddar, three buttered currant buns, apple. Four mugs tea (eight tsps sugar, milk)

5.30pm Large Bacardi and Diet Coke

6.30pm Three large potatoes chipped and fried in sunflower oil, six rashers grilled bacon, two fried eggs, one slice buttered white bread, one ice cream and fruit sorbet lolly, diet lemonade

8pm Diet lemonade

The verdict

Russ is a big man doing a physical job five days a week and playing golf at the weekends, so he can afford to eat a fair amount. (An active man weighing about 14 stone would need around 3,500 calories a day). Russ is, however, getting much of his energy from sugar and refined carbohydrates, such as white bread, buns and biscuits. He actually gets as many as 280 calories a day purely from the sugar in his tea and coffee (about the equivalent of eating a standard-sized Mars bar). These are not the best sources of energy for Russ.

"Refined carbohydrates and particularly sugary foods are rapidly absorbed and cause a surge in blood sugar levels - this gives you a burst of energy, but not for long," explains Dr Toni Steer of MRC Human Nutrition Research in Cambridge. Insulin is the hormone responsible for clearing sugar from your blood. A surge in your blood sugar causes a surge in insulin, which rapidly removes the sugar from your blood and gives you an energy "crash" an hour or two later. When this happens you might crave more sugary foods to pep you up again.

For more sustained energy, Russ could replace his white bread with a multi-grain bread (with intact grains in it), stoneground wholemeal bread or rye bread, and include wholemeal scones, hot cross buns or bananas in his lunch box instead of biscuits and iced buns. Eating breakfast first thing in the morning would also helpbalance his energy during the day, even if it's just a quick Weetabix, Shredded Wheat or toast with his tea.

Russ is approaching retirement age and when he is more sedentary, this high-calorie diet may catch up on him. "It is worth making small dietary changes now to avoid gaining weight when he retires," says Steer. "As you age, your lean tissue starts to decline (although you can slow this by being physically active) and your energy requirements therefore decrease. For Russ this may be exacerbated by a drop in his physical activity."

Just cutting out sugar in his tea (or using a sweetener) and some of his chocolate bars could help prevent weight gain. Replacing his bacon and sausage rolls with leaner meats such as skinless chicken or turkey would help reduce his calories and saturated fat intake which has been linked to heart disease - a leading cause of death in men in this age group.

But Russ does eat fish. "Salmon (even tinned) is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids which help lower the risk of heart disease," says Steer.

Like many men of his age, Russ does not eat the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables. He could add salad to his sandwiches and take packets of dried fruit or more fresh fruit in his lunch box, have extra vegetables at dinner and tinned fruit in natural juice (not syrup) with his ice cream.

"Trying to change the diets of older men is notoriously difficult," says Steer. "Many are not used to thinking about food. Often their wives tend to do the shopping and cooking and they think of these things as her responsibility, not theirs.When he retires Russ will have more time - perhaps to take more interest in his diet."

Improve Your Diet

· Take responsibility: your diet can make a huge difference to your health as you age.

· Make appropriate changes to match your lifestyle. If you retire your energy intake may need adjusting - particularly watch those sugar- and fat-rich snacks

· Eat more fruit and vegetables: they can protect you against certain cancers and heart disease.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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