Whether you feel like a grownup or not, after 50 you can rest assured you’re as much of an official adult as you’ll ever be.

This is both good and bad.

Here’s the upside: Your entire life is up to you. The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the people in your social circle — all of it.

As a kid (let’s have a moment of silence for those days), you were told what to eat, how to dress and who you could hang out with. Whether or not you followed the rules isn’t important. The point is you were basically given a set of guidelines the minute you left the womb:

  1. Do not shave the dog
  2. Stop making faces or it’ll stay that way
  3. Clean your room before we end up on Hoarders

And while it may have sucked at the time, this freed up a lot of decision making time so you could do more productive things — like ponder whether anyone in the history of the planet ever actually used algebra in real life (NO), compiling a list of people who dropped out of high school and made millions, and researching a link between piano lessons and nervous breakdowns.

Now for the downside: You have no one to blame but yourself when things go awry.

For example, when it comes to losing weight, it’s easy to look around you and blame it all on your significant other, your environment, hair color, arm freckles, heredity… the list goes on.

But unless someone throws a bag over your head, handcuffs you to a chair and force feeds you

   Yes, you DO have a choice

chocolate mousse cake through the mouth hole, you are responsible for everything you eat.

(By the way, if that’s happening you may want to dial 911. Or the bakery for more cake.)

Sometimes, however, even if you’re not purposely making excuses (“The dog ate my carrots, so all I had left in the house was Chunky Monkey…”), some stealthy things can sabotage your best efforts without your awareness.

This idea came to mind with the annual guide from the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Dirty Dozen. This list rates fruits and vegetables according to their levels of pesticides; the Dirty Dozen constitutes those with the highest pesticide content.

This year’s winner for the third year in a row (drum roll, please): strawberries.

Yes, this heart-shaped, harmless-looking berry has the heart of a cold-blooded belly fat depositing evil-doer. (More on that in a minute.)

This fact, apparently, has the apple community in an uproar since strawberries surpassed apples as the most pesticide ridden produce after a reign of five years. Apples are now fourth on that list and they’re not happy about it.

So prepare yourself for marches in Washington with people wearing giant Golden Delicious hats, chanting about the unequal rights of crunchy fruit everywhere.

But I digress.

How, you may be thinking, can something so cute and especially yummy dipped in chocolate and full of vitamin C possibly be to blame for your inability to zip your pants?

                  Not the actual professor

In a word: obesogens.

No, I did not make up that word. It’s a real thing.

Defined as, “dietary, pharmaceutical, and industrial compounds that may alter metabolic processes and predispose some people to gain weight,” obesogens were first discovered in 2006 by a biology professor at UC Irvine.

These chemicals may cause some people to gain weight — specifically belly fat — are found in pesticides. The EWG found bases its findings on 47 non-organic fruits and vegetables. Nearly 70% of all non-organically grown produce contain pesticides.

The way a particular chemical works varies depending on the compound. In general, some affect the number of fat cells, while others influence the size of fat cells and still others impact hormones that affect appetite and energy metabolism (read more here).

The bottom line: go organic whenever possible or, at the very least, with produce ranking in the top of this list and highest in pesticide residue.

The Dirty Dozen list

  1.      Strawberries
  2.      Spinach
  3.      Nectarines
  4.      Apples
  5.      Grapes
  6.      Peaches
  7.      Cherries
  8.      Pears
  9.      Tomatoes
  10.     Celery
  11.     Potatoes
  12.     Sweet bell peppers

The Clean Fifteen (least contaminated produce)

  1.      Avocados
  2.      Sweet corn
  3.      Pineapples
  4.      Cabbages
  5.      Onions
  6.      Sweet peas, frozen
  7.      Papayas
  8.      Asparagus
  9.      Mangoes
  10.    Eggplants
  11.    Honeydew melons
  12.    Kiwis
  13.    Cantaloupes
  14.    Cauliflower
  15.    Broccoli

So, let me ask you…. Do YOU eat organic most or all of the time? Will you avoid the produce highest in pesticides? Let’s chat! Please leave a message down below — and be sure to send this out to your friends! I’d be forever grateful. 

Other posts you may enjoy:

3 Underrated, undervalued and unavoidable keys to reaching your goals

7 Reasons you’re not seeing results (and how to fix it)

3 counterintuitive weight loss tactics that really work

Your Ageless Body Coach,