nutrition for millennials

3 things you should be doing in your 20s to protect your bones when you get old


As I was doing my research for my post 10 Things Nutrition Experts Wish They Knew in Their 20s, I was surprised to see bone health come up frequently. Similarly, when you google things like 'nutrition for 20-somethings' bones are common topic of discussion.

Your 20s are prime time to start developing healthy lifestyle habits. Each decade your metabolism declines and it becomes more challenging to change the habits you've set in stone. Why not start developing healthy habits to prevent disease and promote good health down the road?

In your late 20s you reach your peak bone mass. This means your bones reach their maximum strength and density. Our bones begin breaking down at a slightly faster rate than they can be repaired and rebuilt. Although we can replace what is lost each day, we are no longer building our bone strength or mass.

Women are at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis because they have less bone tissue. Those with thin frames or low body weights are also at a higher risk.

Here are a few things you should be doing in your 20s to protect your bones as you get older. . .

1. Cut Back on Smoking, Drinking, and Caffeine Intake

Excessive smoking, alcohol, and caffeine intake can deplete calcium and contribute to bone loss.

2. Get in the Habit of Doing Weight Bearing Exercise

Weight bearing exercise (think body weight not just dumbbells and barbells) can help build bones and keep them strong.
Types of weight bearing exercise include:

Power Walking
Aerobics Classes
Weight Lifting

3. Bump up your Calcium and Vitamin D Intake

Calcium is pretty well known for its role in bone health. But, in order for calcium to get into our bones, it needs vitamin D.

The recommended daily intake for calcium for men and women ages 19-50 is an average of 1,000mg/day. While soy and dairy have the highest calcium content, there are other ways to get it too.

Here are a few great sources of calcium:

Kale and other Leafy Greens
Dried Figs
Chia Seeds
Great Northern Beans
White Beans
Salmon canned with bones
 Calcium fortified orange juice
Calcium fortified cereals
Manitoba Milling Co. Flax Milk


Vitamin D is not found naturally in too many foods, we primarily get it from the sun. Whether you live in a northern state with longer winters, or spend your days in air conditioned buildings in the sunny south - many people are Vitamin D deficient.

It is possible to meet your vitamin D needs with just 30 minutes outside each day (in the summer months). If you are between the ages of 19 and 50 it is recommended to get at least 600 IU of Vitamin D each day, although most people need more.

Vitamin D can be found in:

Mushrooms (if grown in the wild, outside, or treated with UV light)
Egg Yolks (from chickens raised outside or fed Vitamin D enriched feed)
Cow's Milk (fortified)
Orange Juice (fortified)
Plant Milks (fortified)

10 Things Nutrition Experts Wish They Knew In Their 20s

Throughout college and my early 20s, diet was a mystery and constant experiment. I played with new ideas, cooking methods, recipes, and beliefs surrounding food. I went through periods of restricting, overeating, & over exercising to figure out what works for me and my body.  

Our 20s are a time of transition, trial and error, & experimentation. While we may not have everything figured out, we're enjoying the ride and learning as we go. I thought it best to learn from the pros who have been there/done that. Take a look at what they have to say and what they wish they knew about health and nutrition when they were in their 20s - everything from body image, to drinking, to bone health, and athletic performance.

Our 20s are prime time to develop lifelong healthy habits and there's no better time to figure out what healthy means to you.

nutrition expert, 20 something

I wish I knew about intuitive eating and that health and happiness was not about calorie and body fat control. - Adina Pearson, RD

I wish I knew.... Making physical activity and good nutrition a priority in your 20's helps you continue those healthy habits later on in life when life gets busier in terms of family and work responsibilities. Make it a habit while you are young so that you'll continue it later! - Kate Chury, RD

I wish I knew what an important role bone health played in my 20s. I definitely was not active nor did I nourish my body properly during these years when I was working in Corporate America and putting my job ahead of myself. I watched my mom suffer a terrible fracture as a result of osteoporosis when I was in my late 20s. Had I known my bone health would start to diminish in my 30s, I definitely would have put more emphasis on my self care. The good news is I now know that I can slow progression of bone loss and it's never too late to start following a healthy eating and activity lifestyle. - Mandy Enright, MS, RDN, RYT of Nutrition Nuptials

I wish I knew there is no BAD food. We're not perfect nor are we the food police. If I try to hit 80%, that allows to miss physical activity or eat pie and ice cream occasionally. For consulting, if we can agree on 3 changes no matter how small, that's success for client - Wendy Rice, RD

I wish I had known more about alcohol's lack of nutritional value, how it contributes to weight gain and the role that heavy alcohol consumption plays in cancer risk. At the time I thought I was doing myself a favor because at least I wasn't drinking soda, but now that I know more about it I can see how my "heavy" consumption at the time (defined as more than one drink a day for women) likely contributed to my weight gain and possibly increased my cancer risk. I'm not saying 20 somethings shouldn't drink (I certainly still drink now!) but I do think it's important to be mindful of your consumption. Diana K. Rice, RD, The Baby Steps Dietitian

I wish I knew that I wouldn't have to work so hard to control my body's appearance and eating habits - if we learn to be okay with our choices and let our body be where it wants to be, it can be so freeing. Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN, LDN of Bucket List Tummy.

I wish I didn’t give food so much power over me. In my early twenties I used to label food as “good” or “bad” because I thought there was a perfect way to eat well and look good. As I learned more about nutrition, my eating habits became better balanced. For food to nourish your body AND soul, you can't be overly restrictive. Good health is a lifestyle change that you can sustain! - Trinh Le, MPH, RD of Fearless Food RD.

Don't worry so much about eating the perfect diet - it doesn't exist. Instead, focus on eating fruit and vegetables at every meal. It is easier to achieve eating fruits and vegetables (most days of the week) than to stress about eating perfectly all the time. - Kristi Coughlin, RD

I wish I had known that calories didn't count as much as quality. The laser focus on fat and calories back then was misplaced and resulted in recommendations for artificial sweeteners and high carb, low fat foods. - Bridget Swinney, MS, RD Prenatal and Family Food Expert

While I did figure it out in my 20s, I wish I knew in my early 20's, as a college athlete, how important carbohydrates were. I was under-fueled for years until my last couple of months of my swimming career, and eating adequately made a huge difference in my performance and mood! - Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Performance Dietitian

Talk to me! I'd love to hear about your relationship with food, what healthy means to you, and how you can be your healthiest in your 20s!

Healthier Cocktail Recipes for Your Summer Cookouts

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Memorial Day is just around the corner and for me that (usually) means summer is officially here!

With the warmer, sunnier, and longer days I'm finding both my clients and my friends are finding more opportunities to drink cocktails, microbrews, chilled wine, (or other drink of choice).

For whatever reason we seem to associate certain activities and seasons with various beverages. Growing up spending summers on The Cape, each afternoon we looked forward to cocktail hour on the porch after burning to a crisp on Neel Road Beach. The adults sipped cape codders and g&t's and us kids sipped ginger ale & cranberry juice.

With the warmer days, it's nice to come home after a long day to sit on the porch, beverage in hand, enjoying the last few hours of sunshine. I don't blame you. But do we really need multiple drinks each night? This time of year, with what seems like more opportunities to drink more frequently, it can be a tough balancing act when trying to lose weight or reach your health goals. 

Last week, I shared my tips for Choosing a Healthier Cocktail with my email subscribers (if you missed it you can download the tips below). I wanted to follow up with some actual healthier cocktail recipes. As always, the goal is not to be on a diet but rather to make healthier choices to benefit your health long- term.


The recipes and tips (above) are meant to help you choose healthier beverages without feeling deprived or like you're missing out on the fun. Because we wouldn't want that!

Keep these in mind for all your summer cookouts!


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Watermelon Mojito

Jessica Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Culinary Nutrition Expert


Raspberry Blackberry Spritzito

Whitney English Tabaie, RD
To Live & Diet in L.A.

Spicy Strawberry Rhubarb Margarita

Jessica Levinson, MS, RD, CDN
Culinary Nutrition Expert

Soconut Summer Cocktail

Ginger Hultin, RD
Champagne Nutrition

Frozen Mango Coconut Daiquiri

Marisa Moore, RD
Marisa Moore Nutrition

low sugar margarita

Low Sugar Beet Margarita

Kelly Jones, MS, RD, CSSD

healthy spritzer

Pinot Grigio Melon Ball Spritzer (and more!)

Abbey Sharp,RD
Abbey's Kitchen

Abbey also shares tips for choosing lower calorie cocktails, a Mango Kombucha Margarita and a Watermelon Mojito!

cucumber herb spritzer

Cucumber Herb Champagne Sparkler

Sharon Palmer, RD
The Plant Powered Dietitian

skinny margarita

Skinny Margarita

Christy Brissette, MS, RD
80 Twenty Nutrition

bourbon iced tea

Bourbon Iced Tea

Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RD
Shaw Simple Swaps

The next two are mocktails, but do as you please - add your favorite liquor or sip as is.

Berry Lavender Lemonade

Katie Pfeffer-Scanlan, RD
One Hungry Bunny

Strawberry Blood Orange Mocktail (and more!)

Lindsey Janiero, RD
Nutrition to Fit


Thank you to all the fabulous RDs who contributed recipes to this post! Be sure to check out their sites for more recipes and nutrition tips!