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Age and Food

I get the feeling that most of the posters on Chowhound are middle-aged to seniors. Yes I know there are youngsters out there too and I read a post by a person in high school the other day. but that is not what i want to talk about.

DH and I went out for dinner last night and we were simply overwhelmed by the amount of food we were served. We could easily have split the salad and main course. I just cannot eat the way I did 20 years ago or maybe even 10 years ago. I still love food and cooking as does my DH but when confronted with a large serving, my appetite seems to vanish. How about the rest of you? Can you still chow down with abandon or has your appetite become somewhat diminished with time?

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  1. Not my appetite, unfortunately. But my good sense and self control has intermittently improved.

    1. It's a rare day that I ever leave anything on my plate at a restaurant! I'm 68 and retired. Admittedly, I can't put it away like I could when I was working, but I'm still a good eater. I'm a little overweight (185 @ 5' 10"). Luckily, I don't have a sweet tooth, so no dessert for me.

      1. Good topic; and I agree that, overall, my appetite has decreased in middle-age.

        Until I turned 30 I could weigh my plate (five pounds, for example) weight myself, eat the food, weigh myself and there would be no change! The day I turned 30 I could look at that five pounds of food and gain five pounds. Fortunately, since about 45 I don't have as much of an appetite as before. I've stayed at about 154 lbs for a long, long time (helped by heavy workouts six days a week). My appetite does increase when Im travelling and not working out and when the food is good (as in Laos, Mexico, and elsewhere).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          You are right. I do tend to indulge in more when away from home. A couple of years ago my DH had a meeting in Austin, TX. We drove down and then ate our way across the south and home. On our first day out we had 2 lunches at different BBQ places and we knew we would not have the opportunity in the near future to try either out again.

        2. Only recently have I had that problem with an overloaded plate - I just lose my appetite.
          In restaurants I ask for a go-box immediately and put a lot of it in there, then I'm comfortable to eat the rest. At home, even when I have seconds, I like smaller servings.
          I guess I eat less than I used to (always 5'5 and 115 until mid-thirties!!), but I can not abide a full, full dish!

          1. As with my grandmother and father, mother and father and even myself. Yes, I eat less. We aren't growing anymore.

            Actually, we cut back more to be healthy and maybe for health reasons, we are NOT as active, but that doesn't mean we aren't, just not the same level. Our metabolism has changed. Therefore appetites have changed. Sort of a normal progression. Our body doesn't need as much to "function" I have ready many articles and lots of discussions. but mostly they come down to these basic factors. They all very however. I seem to require more veggies now. My body craves them. As your body gets older it uses our nutrients stored. Your body naturally tells us what is missing. Me Iron...I always had HIGH iron, always ate greens, but during my divorce, job layoff and loosing my home and moving my iron plumitted. I still took vitamins and ate well, but stress can have wierd affects. My Iron was depleted and I loss about 1/3 of my hair as a side affect. My hair has grown back, my iron still very low, still under some stress. But it was my bodies way of dealing with the stress. I also noticed my appetite decreased. I still ate healthy but not as much. There are many many factors that equate in decreased appetite, health, daily life, lots of things.

            But overall I did read that most people over the age of 50+ start to feel some degree of a "lesser appetite." But it is very dependent on other factors.

            1. Personally, I find I eat a lot less when I eat at a nice restaurant. The quality of the food makes me slow down and savor my meal and my "experience". I must admit though, somewhat embarrassingly, that I tend to over eat at the "chain restaurants", I think it has to do with the "feeding trough" mentality of most of the large restaurant chains.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Lenox637

                We avoid chains like the plague, you know that the food will be mediocre at best and too much of it. Still some of the upscale places we go for a casual dinner in the bar burgers range from 1/3 lb to 1/2 lb. I just can't do that. One local sandwich shop boasts 1/4 lb hot dogs. They do offer 1/2 sandwiches but want to load you up with potato salad, slaw, chips, or soup. Some days I order a whole sandwich and save half for the next day. We are a college town and I guess the mentality is to fill up the students. i like the shop and the owner corns his own beef but I wish other than the 1/2 sandwich option he'd offer some more petite options.

              2. To echo a bit on what Lenox was mentioning - I wonder if we tend to "overeat" when the food is simply less palatable and you're eating to try to fill a void that isn't related to hunger? I certainly have had experiences where I'm obviously not "hungry" but still eating because some need has yet to be fulfilled. Of course, I've obviously had the opposite where I can't stop eating because it's fulfilling EVERY food need ;-)

                I admit that now that I'm ah, hem....older (but WAIT, isn't 50 the new 40 and 40 the new 30?) I do eat less. But I wonder if I eat less because what I'm eating is generally better in quality than what I ate when I was younger? Or maybe it's tied to the fact that I'm eating what I want to eat, not what Mom was making, not what not so dear ex-DH wanted, not catering to the kids, etc?

                I regards to restaurants, I tend to think that the serving size in most restaurants is just ridiculous! I mean, I personally could never ever eat a 20 oz steak or how about the one pound baked potato? The last time I ordered a cup of soup it was a bowl, a GIGANTIC bowl of soup. Or at least my version of a bowl....

                So it makes me wonder, at restaurants am I really eating less, or am I just not eating everything on my plate because they put too much on it to begin with?

                So, I think it's a combination of things, yes - our metabolism slows down (just wish my mouth would.....) therefore we require less energy. We've also learned to recognize our cravings/food needs to better understand or know what dish or flavor is going to "hit the spot". Lastly, I think the perception when eating out can be deceiving because there is just too much food to begin with.

                1. My appetite never fails but my capacity does. The huge size of restaurant portions is actually a turnoff--I think, do I really want to be eating 4 meals of this? (as I can't bring myself to waste food). Same at home--an 8-oz steak is now an indulgence and usually I can't finish more than 2/3 of it, if that. On the positive side, I'm spending less, and I know how to use leftovers, that leftover steak goes into a torta or salad which makes for quick meals.

                  1. I used to eat a ton. An entire pizza (NY 18"), half gallons of ice cream, etc. Those were the days! But things are more reasonable now. I simply don't want to eat so much. I usually stop when I'm full. Sometimes, however, the food is so good that I eat until I'm sick. As I did when I was younger. Then I eat less for the next 3-6 meals. Something changed after I turned 30, a few years back.

                    I'm still a size 4, but now we split dinner entrees or dine on 2-3 appetizers, and try not to get doggy bags, but usually do.

                    1. I realize that I am in the tiny minority here(6'2 165, 31yrs old), and maybe my day of reckoning is near, but large portions dont bother me. If Im hungry I eat it, if not I dont. Just having it served to me is in no way a turn off.......unless the food is bad, then its a whole LOT of bad!!
                      And personally, Steak is probably the dish that I can eat and eat and eat. A really good BBQ place was doing a special dinner for a group of local foodies and smoked a bunch of 22oz ribeye's. Not only did I eat all of mine, but finished half of my friends and left sated but not stuffed. On the other hand, give me a bowl of pasta and I will eat 6 bites and quit because I am full. go figure.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nkeane

                        that sounds like my husband's idea of a good meal. Meat--many portions. Pasta? 3 bites. Then again, I introduced him to udon a few days ago, and he kept asking for more tastes--until he finished off my bowl. :)

                      2. I can't put it away like I used to, just as well. We enjoy a nice breakfast buffett about once a month but we go early, lose my appetite when I see a couple or whole family who are obese loading up their plates with 15 slices of bacon etc. I'm a foodie and love to cook and eat but I can't stand glutonny.

                        1. I am twenty-five. I finished my undergrad when I was twenty, and back then I would never have considered eating a multi-course meal because I would get full quickly and feel yucky. The day after I graduated, I moved to Europe and ended up settling in Italy. Suddenly, multi-course meals were the norm. Multicourse meals from fresh, seasonal ingredients, eaten slowly, that is. In Italy, I probably ate about one and a half times the volume of food I ate in Canada. However, my lifestyle was a lot more active and my food choices were way healthier, and I returned to Canada two years later with a net weight loss of about twenty pounds. I've been home for three years now and I still eat lots and lots of food- but I eat it very slowly, and I cook it all myself or, infrequently, eat at restaurants that serve "good" food.

                          1. I'm still closer to college age than middle age, but I've definitely noticed that I can't "put away" food like I used to. Meanwhile, my parents, who are nearing retirement age, still refuse to go to a restaurant and not clean their plates. Go figure.

                            1. Yes, I have noticed that I am not able to eat as much as I used to. DH and I often share a salad or entree. I can't stay up all night anymore - either for work or play. I can't eat what I like and not gain weight. And, the list goes on!

                              1. Don't have the appetite or eat as much as I did in 20 years ago, which is a good thing. Never been overwhelmed by the portioning at a restaurant either though.

                                1. I'm amazed to realize I used to be able to eat an appetizer, entree and dessert at one meal. I'm grateful now for the tapas/small plate trend. I enjoy that so much more.

                                  1. I used to be a bit snarky when out with my Mum who would complain of having her appetite 'killed' by an over-filled restaurant plate. Now, I get it...what a difference 25 years makes...sigh...

                                    1. For me, (I'm 42) - I am not sure if my appetite itself has increased - OR if my self control has decreased!
                                      I eat way more than I have for most of my adult life.
                                      And it shows - in the past 4 years I have put on 15 pounds!
                                      Although I was a slightly chubby kid, most of my adult life I was skinny as a bean. I was able to really be careful about what I was putting in my body, and knowing when to and when not to spluge (at the weekends I always ate really well!)
                                      But I hit a certain age - and my disipline seems to have gone out the window!
                                      For instance - I would never just eat a lsice of pizza for convenience sake ie - free or easy, but now I will.
                                      But at the same time, I do still make an effort to put healthy things in my body, and I'm pretty fit, but I'm not stick thin anymore!

                                      1. I am 51 and there was never a time when I could eat a big meal without worrying about getting fat. I can put away a lot of food but I try not to. I can't say that my appetite has diminished. I'm hungry most of the time.

                                        1. I never really had a large appetite and don't now, although even being in my 50's, I actually eat more. Along the way, I did quit smoking and I KNOW that is a contributing factor to my embellished appetite.

                                          It still annoys me - the double-the-amount-that-should-be served serving sizes. There have been times I've laughed out loud when my plate is put in front of me. I don't especially care for leftovers and it really "P's" me off to have to pay for more than twice what I'll eat, knowing the rest will go to waste. Admittedly, it seems to happen more in the chain restos than the mom and pop's, but when did a serving size of 2 (1/2) chicken breasts become fashionable?

                                          13 Replies
                                          1. re: CocoaNut

                                            You might like living in NY/NJ then!
                                            My hubby always complains the portion sizes are too small!!

                                            1. re: NellyNel

                                              Really? Maybe that should be a new thread. "Are serving sizes proportional to region/country".

                                              1. re: CocoaNut

                                                My DH is from the UK and he had always assumed that everything was "Supersized" in the States.....
                                                But contrary to that idea - he always complains about how small the portions are.

                                                (or maybe he's just got a big appetite)

                                                1. re: NellyNel

                                                  I think you often get small portions in fancy restaurants and big ones in mass-market restaurants and chains.

                                                  1. re: NYCkaren

                                                    (not to sound snobby...but) we never eat in chains or anything like that.
                                                    I like refined food when we eat out, because at home I cook hearty rustic food, so I like the contrast....but I am pretty sure DH doesn't!!

                                                    1. re: NellyNel

                                                      LOL, NellyNel,

                                                      I think you and I will probably preface every comment till the end of time with "not to sound snobby"

                                                      LMAO - really I am........

                                                      Sorry I drug you into that horrible mess of a topic re: cheese and all it's mutations

                                                      I'm still laughing hysterically.......

                                                      1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                        oh NN - i should have mentioned laughing hysterically in regards to your "not to sound snobby" remark - I didn't mean laughing hysterically to the beating we took!

                                                      2. re: NellyNel

                                                        Hearty rustic food coated w/ Cap'n Crunch! Said with my new icon to let you know what I really mean. *@@*

                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                          LOL to you both!

                                                          I think you and I will probably preface every comment till the end of time with "not to sound snobby"
                                                          So true!!!!

                                                          but honestly!
                                                          I did think it was ok to be a bit snobby about food - on CH!
                                                          I mean who else would understand about the green can??????

                                                          Funnily enough Sam - I was contemplating the Captn crunch coated tuna recipe someone was talking about!! LOL!!

                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                            does your new icon imply that you're a figment of someone's colorful and poetic imagination?

                                                            1. re: chicaraleigh

                                                              How did you guess?? *-----#*@@*# ----- * (Owl flying into your windshield at night - whatever that is supposed to mean when I use it at the end of one of my messages to you to make my meaning clearer!)

                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                OHHHH, I think I have it now! Or, at least I think I understand a little bit better. At any rate, at least I'm trying to understand. Does that count?

                                                  2. re: NellyNel

                                                    I was in NY 89-92, and now in NY (Manhattan/Brooklyn) since 06--the servings remain large. We've relocated to Princeton from Brooklyn, and the sizes are still huge (originally from Chicago, and seriously, the portion sizes are about the same; ditto in SF and LA--single proprietor places, not chains). My husband (6') and I usually split 3 appetizers, or 1-2 appetizers and an entree. More than that, and it's way too much. Even with that amount, we usually have doggy bags. Sushi and fry fry (fried seafood platters--split between the 2 of us), are the general exceptions--we eat until we're overly full (sushi is okay taken home, fried food--little can save it as a leftover).

                                                2. Mr Freezer Is Our Friend.