The Unsung Benefit Of Avoiding Carbs

Gather 'round, young 'uns. Let me tell you a little secret: If you start eating low carb now, and stick with it, you will get better looking as you get older.

What do I mean? Just this: I was not a particularly good-looking teenager. I was fat and awkward freshman year. By senior year I was not skinny (I've never actually been skinny), but slimmer, prettier and less awkward. I got dates, had boyfriends. But I was never one of those heart-breakingly beautiful 18 year olds, with the long, slender waist, the perky breasts, the butt just made for tight jeans. I went from having the body of a child to having the body of a matron. I'm short and stocky, with a short waist, a huge rib cage, and a big chest. Clothes are not cut for me. I have the build of a fire hydrant.

Ah, well. We work with what we have. It does little good to spend time railing about the stuff we can't change; it's far more profitable to concentrate on the areas where we can have considerable influence. Like the aging process.

Then came my 19th summer, when I read my first book on nutrition (Psychodietetics by Cheraskin and Ringsdorf). I dropped sugar and white flour from my diet overnight, and within three days felt so much better it was like living in color after a lifetime of black-and-white. That was the beginning of my lifelong obsession with nutrition.

Not only did I quit sugar and white flour, I started taking vitamins. I read every book I could get my hands on. I experimented with recipes. At 22, I gave up smoking. (It had become way too painful a cognitive dissonance to be a health food freak who smoked, you know? I just went from thinking of myself as the sort of person who would smoke, to thinking of myself as the sort of person who wouldn't smoke.) I did have the unfortunate 10 year or so foray into low fat/high carb mania, but even then I avoided the worst of the garbage -- I was eating whole grain bread and brown rice and whole grain cold cereal and stuff, but I didn't drink any sugary beverages, easily the biggest source of sugar in the American diet. I didn't eat donuts and sugar-frosted cereals and piles of fast food fries. Then, at 36, I went low carb. And since it turns out a whole lot of aging is caused by sugar -- a process called "glycation of proteins" -- that means I have, for decades, held the aging process to a slow walk instead of a gallop.

Flash forward fifteen years. I am now 51 years old, 52 in October. And you know what? I look damned good for 51. I do. Oh, I still can't compete with goddess-like 18 year olds, but then I couldn't compete with them when I was 18. But in my peer group, I have gone from being okay looking to being positively good-looking. My skin is great; I have remarkably few wrinkles for my age. My jaw line doesn't sag much, and I don't have a double chin. My posture is erect. I move quickly and agilely. I'm flexible. I have a waist. And over the past 30 years or so, I have developed self-confidence, a sense of self, and an idea what clothes look good on me, all of which were sorely lacking in my youth.

I'm sure when the gorgeous frat boys with which Bloomington teems see me they think "Middle aged woman." But do I get the eye from men in my age group? Oh, you bet. Even some who are a decade younger than me. And my husband thinks I'm hot. Frankly, it all makes me happy. Happy, happy, happy.

See, if you can just hold the line on aging long enough, you eventually become good-looking for your age. I know if you're twenty it may seem like a long time to wait. But trust me, it comes a lot quicker than you think. May as well get started now.

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Fire hydrant

Well you certainly don't look like a fire hydrant in the photograph you posted on Friday :-)

Yeah, but

Yeah, but I'm not standing up. ;-p

I'm short -- 5'2" -- and stocky as heck. My waist is so short, I can literally touch my ribcage and my hipbone with one fingertip.

I've learned to dress better, thank heaven. And I'm currently in size 10 pants, which helps a lot.

Anyway, thanks!

We're not short waisted. We're short

When I figured out that what I needed was cloths for small people, my shopping got better. I'm glad to know that all that avoiding sugar and carbs have given me the looks of a younger woman. I don't have much of a waist but I guess that's all right. I'm 72 now and most women my age or a lot younger don't. People still think that I'm younger than either of my brothers and that lops at least ten years off my age. Right now I'm in a size 12 pants which I'm not happy with but I'm working on it again. I gained weight over Christmas and after when I had to spen time with my youngest son. They eat a lot more carbs than I do at home. My biggest problem any way you look at it is my bust line. I wear a D cup. I've not found anything that will made this better. If you have a clue, let me know.

Just short?

No, I'm short *and* short-waisted. Most people have at least a couple of inches of space between their bottom rib and their hip bone. I have less than a half-inch.

As for the D cup, I hear you. The only thing I've found that helps is good bras -- and especially minimizer bras.

When my publisher started talking about putting me on television back in '02, I panicked. Not because I'm afraid of cameras; I'm not. Not because I'm afraid of audiences. But because I knew I was severely fashion-challenged, and I didn't have a clue how to dress for a TV appearance. Heck, I wasn't great at dressing to go to the grocery store.

So I hired a top-flight stylist. Paid obscene amounts of money to have a nice (and very smart) lady go shopping with me. And thank heaven I did. Thanks to Diane, I appeared on television with confidence. And I'm a lot better at dressing myself now.

Anyway, I'd always figured the only good thing about being saddled with a D-cup rack was that the further out my chest stuck, the smaller the rest of me would look by contrast. Right? Wrong.

As soon as we got to the mall, Diane put me in a minimizer bra -- a bra that made me look a cup size or so smaller. Instantly, I looked ten pounds thinner all over. I went home and threw out all my regular bras, and I don't think I've worn anything but minimizers since. I like Bali brand.

So, my busty friend, get yourself to a good lingerie store (NOT the sort that sells seduction wear, the sort that actually knows what they're doing.) Get a bra fitting, and get a few minimizers. I'm telling you, the right bra will take off ten years and ten pounds in ten seconds.

A new way to sell low-carb?!

Wow, Dana.

I'd never heard of an association between low-carbing and slowed appearance of aging. [I'm not questioning your personal testimony.] Most peope know that sun exposure and smoking accelerated the aging of skin. I'll keep my eyes open for objective studies.


Nutrition and Aging

You've never even heard it suggested that nutrition influences aging?

No question smoking accelerates aging; thank heaven I gave it up. (Not to mention the fact that when I quit I thought 80c/pack was highway robbery. God knows where I'd be financially if I still smoked.)

Sun? Yeah, I think it weathers skin a bit, sure. But I also think it's very valuable, and nowhere near as big a factor as nutrition. I've never been careful about sunscreen -- if my make up or moisturizer had SPF in it, fine, but I didn't go out of my way to wear it. I still have excellent skin for a woman in the second half of her first century. :-)

ever heard of this sweetener? Yacon Syrup?

hello Dana...

found this link for a sweetener that i have not heard of before and was wondering if you knew anything about this? do you recommend? thoughts? thanks in advance for any info you can share...