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The three decades of dieting

While in our thirties, our lives can expand to include raising children -- often while still working -- and trying to run a home and keep a social life on the road.

We tend to eat on the run and a treat can be munching in front of the telly after the children are in bed. In our forties, we can be stuck to a seat a little bit too much, whether sitting in the office or driving children to activities, and exercise becomes even more important for keeping in shape. Yet no matter which dieting decade you find yourself in, there are specific steps you can take which will help you keep fit, toned and healthy.

Dieting in your 20s

You are working in your first serious job, getting to know your new colleagues, dating the love/s of your life, getting wed, and maybe even starting a family. Your life is hectic, which means healthy eating is one of the first things to go. You are probably slim due to the frenetic pace you live at. Yet you could also be establishing unhealthy eating habits that may be difficult to break as you move into another decade.

Research has found that twentysomethings eat 25pc more fast food/convenience meals than they did in their teens. But grabbing dinner on the go means you may be missing out on crucial nutrients. Instead, you can choose healthy convenience foods -- cooked chicken, tuna wraps, and salads. And when buying foods you can prepare quickly in your kitchen, choose nutritious ingredients such as whole-wheat pasta, instant brown rice, or frozen vegetables.

This is the decade when you will drink the most alcohol. Cut back on your calorie intake from alcohol by alternating each alcoholic drink with a glass of water. There are certain key nutrients you need in your twenties:

Dieting in your 30s

You are run ragged managing the demands of children and career -- and are most likely eating on the run. When you do get time for yourself, slumping in front of the telly is a more attractive alternative to going for a jog.

However, your thirties are a time when you may start to show the signs of an unhealthy lifestyle, such as diabetes or hypertension. Yet dropping just 10pc of your weight can slash your risk of these diseases. So it is worth taking healthy eating and exercise serious. There are certain key nutrients you need in your thirties:

Dieting in your 40s

In your forties you may find yourself sandwiched between the demands of teenage children and ageing parents, and may comfort eat to deal with the stress.

For every decade after 40, it is estimated that there is roughly a 1pc decrease in calorie requirements. This can be sorted by simply eating one less biscuit a day. But again, it requires willpower. Eating every three to four hours can also help to keep your metabolism revved up and keep the weight off. There are certain key nutrients you need in your forties: