If Baby Boomers wonder why they struggle with weight, they might look no farther than their hand.

First, smartphones and other conveniences are essentially adding 500 calories a day to our diets compared to a few decades ago, a new book says. That translates to about a pound a week if we don’t exercise enough.

And meanwhile, a new study says we eat substantially more at meals when we’re using the devices.

Is the solution to go on a strike against personal tech? Hardly.

An Evolution of Convenience

Since the 1950s, changes in everything from cleaning products to food production to transportation have affected how much we move.

“Let’s remember back two generations, when you had to walk to the mailbox, and you had to push the lawnmower,” says Dan Zeman, author of “You’re Too Old To Die Young: A Wake-Up Call for Male Baby Boomers on How To Age With Dignity.”

Zeman isn’t on an anti-iPhone crusade. He’s just pointing out that, in general, while people don’t move incidentally as much as we used to, we are still eating as much or more than we did.

Household cleaning machines and supplies cut the expenditure of daily calories, says Zeman, an exercise physiologist with 40 years experience. Then came TV remote controls. Now electronic devices almost eliminate our need to move for many activities of daily living.

“Nutritional intake is still the biggest impact,” Zeman says. “We still eat like we’re mowing the lawn.”

It’s Not Really about Smartphones

Millions of people use smartphone apps to track diet and exercise, find online resources, and share progress. All that can be helpful to staying fit.

But we need to be mindful of how and when we’re using our handy, 24/7 distractions. A recent study found that people who use them during meals eat 15 percent more calories, leading to weight gains.

They consumed more high-fat food. Overweight people ate even more than the rest of the volunteers.

Distractions like phones and tablets can confuse our brains from correctly understanding the amount of food we’ve eaten, said authors of the study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior.

It’s All about Making Adjustments

So, what does modern, easy living mean for adults over 50?

Working out regularly is highly important, of course.

But also, Zeman says, making adjustments is key.

For instance, consider how we change our household budgets at retirement. We know that we can’t spend like we’re still earning our full salary.

Similarly, with all our everyday conveniences, we must recognize we’re not spending as much energy as we used to. Instead, we should consume fewer calories and make more of an effort to move our bodies every day.

“I’d like to see manufacturers put stickers on modern tools and electronic devices that say how many pounds you’ll gain if you use them and don’t make any adjustments to your diet,” Zeman says. “It shouldn’t be just for Twinkies.”

Tips on Staying Hydrated and Snacking Right

Fitness means more than just exercise. We also have to pay attention to what we’re putting into our bodies, and not only at mealtime.

Eating right and getting plenty of water throughout the day will help you maintain a healthy body weight, keep your blood pressure down, and lower the risk of chronic disease.

Water, water, water

  • Drink water before, during and after exercise.
  • You don’t have to sweat to become dehydrated, and you might sweat more than you realize.
  • Maturing adults can lose the ability to recognize thirst.
  • Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.
  • Dehydration symptoms include headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness and constipation.
  • Don’t wait till you’re thirsty to drink up.
  • Common medications can contribute to dehydration. Drink a full glass of water if you need to take a pill.

Smart snacking

  • We all need to mix up our diets to be sure we’re getting the right mix of nutrients.
  • Instead of processed snacks, eat a piece of fruit or a serving of handy veggies, like carrots.
  • Unsalted nuts are a great alternative to, say, cookies from the snack aisle.
  • Use low-fat milk in your coffee, instead of whole milk.
  • Cut the soda, even diet. Try sparkling water with a lemon slice.
  • Enjoy high-calorie treats in moderation. A half-cut of low-fat ice cream has about 100 calories. Same for half the average candy bar.

Sources: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, WebMD

Cheesy Flat Zucchini Noodles

Here’s another guilt-free pasta recipe for you! You won’t need a spiral slicer for this one, simply use a regular veggie peeler – like the kind you would use to peel the skin from a potato – to create long, flat zucchini noodles. This recipe has a scrumptious, nutty flavour that will make you forget all about traditional noodles. Feel free to serve with some sliced chicken breast, sliced hard-boiled eggs or steak for added protein. Enjoy!

What you need
Serves 4

  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon almond flour
  • 4 large zucchinis, peeled with a veggie peeler
  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon minced parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, about two minutes. Add the coconut oil, and once it’s melted, add the almond flour and a pinch of salt.
  2. Stir often with a wooden spoon, until it’s toasty brown, about two minutes. Remove crumbs from the pan and save for garnish.
  3. In the same skillet, add the peeled zucchini noodles. Sauté them until just tender, about one to two minutes. Turn heat to low.
  4. In a new pan on low heat, combine olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes, stirring with a spoon until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  5. Transfer the zucchini noodles to garlic and oil mixture. Toss and stir until they’re coated.
  6. Turn off the heat and add parsley, salt, and black pepper. Sprinkle with almond flour crumbs before serving. Enjoy!

Nutrition
165 calories, 12g fat, 72mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate, 5g fibre, and 6g protein