What is Menopause?
Menopause is a time in a woman’s life when estrogen and progesterone hormones take a dip, and several symptoms start appearing. Finding natural solutions to these changes can make the transition a little easier.
Changes in hormones are linked to weight gain, as well as increasing chances of breast cancer and increases in blood pressure. Although hormone replacement therapy is available, it doesn’t come without risks. So before resorting to pharmaceuticals, try battling these changes with proper nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Eating Healthy During Menopause
Healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight is important, but even more important as women enter menopause. Many aging women will tell you it becomes more difficult to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight after the age of 50. However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible; it just takes a little more effort. Below are several considerations for women going through menopause. Eating healthy for a healthy weight CAN be achieved as we age and go through the "change."
- Choose Healthy Fats: Yes, it is important to avoid eating a diet that is high in fat, especially saturated fat. High-fat foods are usually high in calories and low in nutrients, exactly the opposite of what a woman in or past menopause needs. But it's even more important to get the right fats in your diet -- fats that may protect against heart disease and cancer. Increase your intake by working oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), chia seeds and avocados into your diet.
- Eat a High Fiber Diet: Because it becomes more difficult to maintain a healthy weight after menopause, a high fiber diet is of the utmost importance because it has been proven to help with weight loss. High fiber diets can help one feel full and satisfied, plus high fiber foods are lower in calories, thus making weight management easier. Most adults should get at least 25 grams a day, but the more the better when it comes to fiber.
- Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables: Have at least 1½ cups of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables each day. Fruits and vegetables offer many health benefits. In addition to its high fiber content, fruits and vegetables also contain vitamins, minerals and are naturally low in fat. Plants have chemicals that help protect our bodies' health and wellbeing. Phytoestrogens are particular plant chemicals that are very similar in structure to estrogen, and may act as weak estrogen in our bodies. Simply put, phytoestrogens may trick your body into thinking it has more estrogen than it really does -- potentially diminishing some of the discomforts caused by lower estrogen levels during menopause.
- Eat Calcium-rich Foods: Calcium and vitamin D help keep bones strong. In one large study, postmenopausal women who took calcium and vitamin D supplements regularly had fewer hip fractures. Calcium and vitamin D may also help with weight management—possibly stimulating the breakdown of fat cells and suppressing the development of new ones. Eat and drink two to four servings of dairy products and calcium-rich foods a day to obtain your calcium your body needs.
- Drink Green Tea: This drink is filled with antioxidants, and consuming more water and tea helps women to feel more energetic. And more energy equates to more exercise! Green tea has also been shown to increase metabolism thus assisting women to lose weight during and after menopause.
- Make Every Meal “Do-able”: Healthy eating needn’t be a big production. Keep it simple and you’ll stick with it. Stocking the pantry and fridge with wholesome choices will make it easier to prepare quick, tasty meals. And always try eating and cooking something new as soon as boredom strikes!
- Be Adventurous: Eating new foods encourages variety, which is a key component of any healthy eating meal plan. A variety of foods from all food groups can help you get the nutrients your body needs as you age. A healthy eating plan emphasizes fruit, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy; includes lean meat, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts; and is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium) and added sugars. After all, variety is the spice of life!
- Rethink “Exercise”: Often times “exercise” has a negative connotation. If you rephrase exercise into ‘playing’ it becomes fun, enjoyable, and something you look forward to. You don’t have to work up a good sweat in the gym for this to be beneficial, just adding a little movement to your life can prevent weight gain, or even help with weight loss. Be creative and find ways to get movement every single day.
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