Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How Not To Gain Weight After Menopause


Illustration by Joe Harris

Diet for a Second Life: What foods to always avoid

As we age, our hormone levels drop which means that our ability to create new healthy cells diminishes. This reflects on us inside and out. That means we see the change in our skin, and feel the change in our bodies.  We need estrogen to process insulin and when that diminishes; we are at greater risk for weight gain, and diabetes.

We don’t have to gain weight as we age. But, you need to know that it’s easy to put on weight with the onset of menopause. Our bodies are now more sensitive to sugar. You may find yourself eating the same as you did before, and gaining weight. When a particular hormone system breaks down as with the loss of estrogen from the ovaries, it affects all the other processes in the entire physiological system because the systems of the body are interconnected. Your body breaks down more than it builds up and the end result is aging.  We have to change our relationship to food in order to fight the aging process.  We need a menopausal diet.


Carbohydrates and Estrogen


Here’s the deal. As we age and our estrogen levels start to fall, our bodies begin to develop sensitivity to carbohydrates, around the age of 40. That translates into simple carbs like white flour breads and pastries. So when you reach for the bread at dinner think twice and put it back. And skip dessert.


Abdominal fat has significantly stronger relationship with insulin sensitivity than peripheral non-abdominal fat.  This makes women with the shape of a spider body (meaning Buddha belly and thin arms and legs) more insulin resistant than those with fat on their thighs. Scientists say abdominal fat may be a major reason why women develop insulin resistance.

Never skip breakfast 


Everyone should eat breakfast. Make it protein rather than carbohydrate. But eat something before you stress your system with the demands of the day. When you skip breakfast, you tell your body that you are in trouble, and in order to protect you from starving, it will make fat out of the next meal that you eat. Think for a moment. When you eat breakfast, you tend to eat less for lunch because you just aren’t starving. Translate that into the mode of giving yourself permission to eat anything you want because, after all, you’re starving.  And when you are starving, you’ll choose fat/volume to satisfy yourself.

Best snack foods



Eat small meals. Train yourself on 
one or two courses.  Provide yourself with a snack between 3 PM and 4:30 before you eat dinner. If you need one between breakfast and lunch, give yourself a small snack. Make it a handful of nuts, or cheese and celery, carrots or fruit. But couple a fruit or vegetable with a protein like cheese or nuts or legumes to feel satisfied. I often keep a fresh supply of hummus as dip for my carrots and celery.

The Roman Feast that we have on holidays is a sure fire way to gain weight. Our holiday meals are a challenge and every season this is when we tend to put on the pounds that we work to get off after holiday time.  But it’s not just the holidays that are a problem, if you tend to dine out, the experience of a leisurely meal means 2 or three courses. You can maintain this as a treat once a week, but know that you need to make an adjustment if you want to keep your waistline in tact. Split the main course in half and share it or take it home. Have fruit for dessert instead of pastry or ice cream.

Check back on Friday for The Menopausal Diet Shopping List to print and use.  Plus a recipe that you're sure to love.

By Ruth Gantman, HHC, AADP, Holistic Health Coach
You can contact Ruth with your questions about menopause at ruth@nurtured-by-nature.com.  Also visit Ruth's blog for more in depth information on nutrition at Eat Smart Live Smarter and Nurtured By Nature for more on menopause.
  

17 comments:

  1. Nicely explained. (Why is it that our health care providers sometimes have difficulty with this sort of clarity?)

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    1. Hey there! Thanks for saying that! I am a health coach. Which means that it is my job to fill in the blanks when your doctor gives you advice, and you need help with understanding and making the adjustments necessary for continued good health. Would you be interested in a free consultation? I can talk with you over the phone and we set up your health goals. You'd be surprised at what you learn from one conversation. What have you got to lose? You can call me at 917 881 1448. Or email me to set up an appointment:
      ruth@nurtured-by-nature.com

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  2. Old news. More deprivation. Big sigh. Is this really how we want to live our "second life?"

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  3. Well done, and easy to understand. And as for Anonymous, yep. I choose to be happy.

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  4. Munching on some late afternoon almonds as I read this. Terrific post, it's great to have a bit of clarity. Regular exercise is also good. I find (so far) that daily walks and swimming 3 times/week has helped me maintain a healthy weight.

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    1. You get to swim 3 times a week, Judith? I'm jealous! I love that stretching and gliding motion but only when the outdoor pools around me open. Enjoy.

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    2. You sound like your're on the right track! You Go, Girl!

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  5. I took flour and sugar out of my diet sometime after 50, Maryl. That means they do not come into the house ... not that I can easily restrain myself if they make it in. That and walking an hour every day are the only things that give me a fighting chance to stay within a healthy weight range. Oh, yeah, no cans or packages either. But when I travel, I do what I call "souvenir eating." Otherwise, why bother traveling? ;-)

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    1. Such discipline....no sugar, flour, cans or packaged foods! I'm impressed and I also love "souvenir eating". Agreed, I travel for the food too. Thanks.

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  6. Exercising more also helps because it speeds up your metabolism.

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    1. Yes. And according to Ayurvedic Medicine, a good time to work out is 6AM to 10 AM

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  7. Menopause is a personal journey that a woman takes alone. Get some assistance from someone who really knows what it's like to go through the emotional and physical side effects of menopause. Contact me:
    Ruth@nurtured-by-nature.com for a free consutlation. You'll be surprised at what you can learn about yourself and your health in one conversation.

    Also: Check out my new blog: www.eatsmartlivesmarter.com

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  8. Please check out my weekly Blog: Eat Smart Live Smarter

    http://eatsmartlivesmarter.com/blog

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  9. HRT is not as evil as once thought... we treat hypothyroidism, why are we neglecting low estrogen, progesterone, testosterone ?

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    1. Consider Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy.

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