The Slowing Metabolism

I don’t know a single person who has gotten to the age of 60 or 70 who has not been surprised by the slowing down of their metabolism!  It seems to be one of those things that we know about, have been told about, but still find ourselves surprised when it happens to us.

I’m a good size guy, I’ve always had a good appetite and I’m blessed with a chemical system that seems to enjoy most of the options we have in the developed world.  I’ve even tried a few choices from the developing world, without too much bodily reaction. That has to be a formula for potential conflict:  slowing metabolism and hearty appetite.

In my younger days, as the cook in the house, I could make several dishes for each meal and we’d have our well balanced diet without much of a fuss.  But as we age I find that I really don’t need to consume much more than one or two items per meal and that results in a diet plan that is bound to gain weight.  If I ate as many “portions” of all the various foods the FDA says I should be eating I’d weight about 1800 lbs!  With a slowing metabolism there’s no way to eat the kind of foods that nutritionists say you ought to be eating.

My solution has been a little uneven in application.  Sometimes I try to make smaller portions of multiple foods.  I find that to be wasteful and it produces lots of leftovers that need to be consumed in their “warmed up” state — something I’ve never been into.  In fact I’d say I pretty much dislike warmed up food!  For as long as we’ve been married and I’ve been the cook in the house I’ve diligently tried to limit the amount prepared to the amount we would consume for just that reason.  I’d rather eat fresh than reheated, even when it takes me longer to prepare it.

The other alternative has been to make the same sized portions but to serve and consume fewer items per meal.  This results in less rounded nutritional intake and I have to make sure I eventually get all of the food groups covered.

When we were younger and Peg’s dad was still alive he made it a point to go to a restaurant for at least one meal per day.  He ate his veggies, he got his proteins, and imbibed on his carbs.  As a single guy who didn’t cook, living alone, the restaurant was a good choice for him and he could afford to do it as long as he watched his budget.  As an avid cook and eater I always thought that was a crazy way to live.  Of course, as a single guy living alone he also got companionship — all the waitresses loved him and knew him by name at the list of restaurants he visited regularly.  So, eating out also served a social purpose in his life.  I happen to be married to a lovely lady whom I adore spending time with so maybe it’s not quite the same thing for me to “want to go out.” I’d rather stay home and cook my own food because I like my own cooking better than most restaurant meals.

None of which helps me in my battle with my own metabolism against an increasing waistline!  I’m still stuck — as are we all — with the ugly decision of how to cut calories and yet continue enjoying life.  I don’t make sweets, cakes, pies, or desserts of any kind.  I will ignore my better senses when we are eating out and order dessert — but I really shouldn’t ever — any restaurant meal will have more calories in it than I need to eat.  I sometimes find myself tempted to try the humorous alternative:  “life’s short, eat dessert first,”  but the practical side of me gets hung up on that!

In the end, I do the best I can.  I cut portions, I make fewer dishes for the table and try to be smarter about what I put into them.  I still struggle with portions — I suspect I always will — my eyes are bigger than my stomach — or to be more accurate, my eyes are bigger than my metabolism!

I sometimes think that someone should manufacture a version of the EZ Bake kitchen for seniors.  Instead of cooking on a lightbulb it could have “real” burners and oven, but it would be downsized, and the cookware would be downsized too — for the size of meals that we seniors ought to be eating. Maybe that would make it easier to plan for getting older. EZ BAKE


6 thoughts on “The Slowing Metabolism

    1. Linda, I suspect portion size will forever be my nemesis.

      Interesting you mention the toaster oven. I have considered using ours on many occasions for all manner of items and the single factor that holds me back is the question of how to keep the interior of a relatively small toaster oven clean!

      Seeing as I do the cooking and Peg does the washing up I’m loathe to create a cooking mess that she’ll have a hard time cleaning up.

      C’est la vie.



  1. Oh, Peter, you have our issues in one! As a retired home ec teacher, I seem not to be able to let go of meals for more than just the fairly sedentary two of us. We had (still have them, just not at our house!) three very active children, so food quantities were important. We also lived some miles out of town, so having a well stocked pantry and rig were important. My husband does question my need for six cans of chopped tomatoes and such in the pantry. Tough habit to break!
    Thank goodness we do not mind leftovers, but I have gotten more creative with them. I need to practice what you are doing – smaller portions and fewer choices.


    1. LOL — “…six cans of chopped tomatoes…” Oh Liz — I know your pain!

      I still keep a pretty extensive pantry — at least of basic components. Dry raw ingredients, canned tomato, sweet sour beets, mushrooms, beans, etc. 4 different flours plus grits and oats and … well, you know how it goes… I used to keep several different pastas but recently having bought a pasta machine I’ve even trimmed out the pre-made pasta.

      I make almost nothing that has been prepared as a finished product — except for maybe pickled herring, raw corned beef, and Usingers Braunschwieger. Everything else comes as either fresh proteins, fresh or quick frozen veg, eggs, cheese, butter and cream. And of course coffee. Lots of coffee that we grind each day for the next morning in a burr grinder.

      I enjoy cooking, but I’m frustrated that we need to eat so little…. Holidays are a treat for me to be able to cook for more than the two of us.

      Hang in there Liz….



  2. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    You would think after cooking for a family for almost 50 years, I’d have portion control down to a science. I’ve cut down considerably, but there are still a few things that I enjoy large helpings on like broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts with a cheese sauce.


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