Eating Better in Retirement

This post was originally published in April, 2016.

In my book and in the post Fiscal & Physical Fitness I noted the following:

“Just as being physically fit involves two critical components, controlling diet and exercising; being fiscally fit also involves two critical components, controlling debt and investing. That realization prompted me to immediately commit to fiscal fitness, just as I had always committed myself to physical fitness.”

As I’ve contemplated what I will do in retirement, I have given a lot of thought to one component of physical fitness, exercising. When the wife and I have conversations about what our typical day might look like in retirement, we start with the premise that most days will start with a good workout, whether that means getting in a morning run, working our way through our neighborhood, or perhaps, if the weather isn’t cooperating, making use of our gym membership.

Diet and Exercise

For all the thought I have given to exercising in retirement, I haven’t given as much thought to diet. The wife and I have talked a little about taking cooking classes at the local community college as a way to stay busy and engaged; and expand our home menu, but that has been about the extent … until recently.

Prepping a Morning Smoothie

I like to believe the wife and I maintain a pretty healthy diet. Our mornings typically start with fresh fruit (favorites include bananas, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, pineapple and blackberries) and vegetable (favorites include kale, spinach and carrots) smoothies or steel-cut oatmeal. Dinner typically includes a glass of water, mixed leafy greens, a lean meat and a starch. We rarely have any dessert, and when we do, it might be a low-fat yogurt with fresh fruit.

Meal Management

The one area we could improve – if that is what we were looking to do – would be lunch. We work in close proximity to each other and therefore, nearly always eat lunch together. While we simply come home half the time, the other half we visit one of our favorite restaurants. As most are aware, even when you try to eat better at a restaurant, it’s difficult because the portions are so large and most of the food is processed or was frozen at some point. Not a lot of low-fat, fresh options when you eat out.

Grilled Turkey Burger

Grilled Turkey Burger

Recently, on an afternoon where I was not working, I had plenty of time, and the wife was enjoying lunch with a friend, I decided to grill a turkey burger. The burger, garnished with some Swiss cheese, kale, vine ripened tomato, and avocado on a slim whole wheat bun, was fantastic! Not necessarily because I’m great on the grill, but because I had the time to fire up the grill, add my chosen fresh ingredients and sit calmly … time was not a factor. This led to an epiphany. Well, at least a semi-epiphany as I was not completely unaware of the likelihood of eating better in retirement.

Final Thoughts

Another distinct advantage of being retired will be that I will not be on someone else’s clock. My time will be my own. Can you enjoy a healthy diet while working the 9 to 5. Of course. However, there are lots of times when rushing off to work, having limited time during the day, and having other obligations when you get home in the evening that make it difficult. One of the benefits of having absolute control of my time will be the ability to create and enjoy better looking, better tasting, and more nutritious meals.

Eat well, drink well, live well and stay savvy, my friends.

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.

6 Comments

  1. I work at home and cooking and eating healthier has gotten a lot easier. I get to take my time, enjoy my food, and I never feel rushed. Sounds like you’re having a similar experience!

    • Indeed. There are so many benefits to being in a position to cook and eat at home.

  2. I’ve been experimenting a lot with new recipes: bean burgers, overnight oatmeal-yogurt-fruit cups, kale, and mashed parsnips as a potato substitute. I also try to identify items at fast food restaurants that aren’t horribly bad for you. My favorite so far is the Wendy’s grilled chicken sandwich which is on a whole grain bun.

    • Like you, the wife and I have been experimenting with new recipes at home. The wife is pretty good at coming up with tasty, healthy dishes. When we do eat out, we have a few strategies. First, we generally order water which is healthier and less expensive than soda. Second, we tend to split entrees as the portions are usually way more than one person needs. And third, particularly when we don’t split an entree, we try to order from the ‘lighter fare’ portion of the menu. My current favorite is from Applebee’s; the Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken — Granny Smith apple relish, lemon olive oil vinaigrette over a blend of cranberries, rice, honey-glazed pecans & quinoa. It’s quite tasty and is less than 600 calories.

      Applebee's Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken

  3. I agree that diet is hugely important James. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I have incorporated exercise into my daily routine, and was happy to see that my father did the same. I think it’s good for our physical and mental well being. While we’ve been on this trip, for the past few months, our diet and exercise have been less consistent. One upside to returning home will be getting back on track with healthy diet and exercise, daily!

    I hope you’re having a great week!
    -Bryan

    • I’m absolutely convinced there is a strong relationship between physical, spiritual (relationships), physical, and fiscal fitness. Improvement on one often leads to improvement in others and vice Versa.

      Thanks for stopping by, my friend and have a great weekend.

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