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Boomers: Hungering for Health and Wellness

As I get up and meet my girlfriend at the gym for a workout at 7:00am,the body doesn't always want to cooperate. Or when there are more aches and pains than there used to be, sometimes, I wonder if it's worth it. Then I shake off the doubts and feel good that my body is keeping up with my girlfriend, who is more than 10 years my junior. Of course, I feel even better on those days when she's trying to keep up with me. I'm thankful we have each other to stay motivated! I also hate to think about what kind of issues I might have if I wasn't.

Most statistics showing the rise in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, and many other diseases, indicate these are exacerbated by diet and lifestyle. Being a Boomer, I'm hoping to be as healthy as I can for as long as possible and, hopefully live a good quality of life—maybe even for as long as the elders in my life—since my Dad's still around at age 90.

I went to a nutritionist a couple of years back after I turned 49, because I wanted to feel good about myself when I turned 50. I'm not perfect yet by any means, but it really helped me be more aware of the foods I was eating and how they made my body feel once I ate them, including what my mood was like and even how my brain functioned. The result? I've tried some new dishes that I probably wouldn't have tried on my own, and have come to love and even crave some incredibly healthy foods.

I found it amazing that when I cut way back on sugar, how naturally sweet fruits and vegetables taste! And how some of those sugary things I used to crave, now taste so cloyingly sweet, I don't really desire them very often any more. Best of all, now, when I really feel like having something that's a little decadent, I have it and truly enjoy it, with no guilt (well, mostly no guilt, I said I wasn't perfect!), and trust that I'll be craving a salad the next day. With fresh vegetables from our garden during the summer months, it's easier to stay motivated.

I've also noticed that, more and more, there seem to be definite correlations between nutrition and brain health. I probably have more concerns about my brain giving out than my body. Especially on the days when I feel as forgetful as my dad—though thankfully, he's still pretty with it. Some facilities, including my father's, the Compass on the Bay, are working with specialists from Boston University to incorporate changes to their food preparation to build in brain-healthy ingredients that have been shown to boost memory and cognitive abilities.

Last year, Compass invited family members to a seminar given by Dr. Nancy Emerson Lombardo who spoke about Memory Preservation Nutrition® and told us about anti-oxidants, whole grains, and other helpful foods that Boomers could actually be eating now to prevent memory issues, instead of waiting until we're in a facility. Talk about an incredible opportunity for the health and wellness industry!

Currently, I'm working with a client whose target audience is primarily female Boomers. The challenge she's finding is that some people just don't take the time to think about their health. Small wonder! With caring for our elders, along with our spouses and children—all the while handling demanding jobs—who has time? This is a real challenge, but I'm gratified that Boomers are starting to realize a shift is necessary.

Of course, too often, people want to make a change, but find there are too many confusing choices. Though if anyone else is like me, the quick-fix plans are having less appeal—“been there, done that”. Boomers are starting to be more skeptical about unrealistic promises and may be coming to the realization that it really does come down to the basics of eating healthier foods and working in exercise in whatever little pockets of time we can.

Food marketers would be wise to address the life-stage shifts happening with Boomers. We've talked before about the opportunity for food companies to contribute to overall wellness by adjusting ingredients such as salt and fat to make their products healthier choices.

With the Boomers at a critical stage in their lives, and being the largest segment of the population, I'd say it's definitely about time.

-posted by Laura Willis

Labels: Baby Boomers and health and nutrition, Boomers Health and Wellness, healthcare, Healthy Boomers