Once upon a time, I could eat any- and everything I wanted without worrying one iota about gaining weight. I once tested my limits by eating at least two pounds of snow crab legs for 42 days straight (that was after I left my first husband, so my mind was in a jumble). Still, I didn’t gain an ounce.
I was slender, long and lean of limb and, at times, I was actually too thin. In my mind, I would forever be a 5’8” woman who tipped the scales at a svelte 143 pounds.
Oh, how I miss those days.
Right along with midlife comes menopause. And you know what tags along with menopause like a Siamese twin joined at the hip? Weight gain. When you couple the natural aging process with declining hormone levels, that’s a perfect storm for packing on the pounds. I’m a living testament to that.
It becomes increasingly difficult to lose weight and the “Menopause Middle” is real, ladies.. While it can be a little depressing, there are a few things we can do to stave off those extra pounds and, in some cases, even lose a few.
Cookies and Candy and Fat, Oh My!
We’ve all done it. At some point, we’ve all binged out with foods that are bad for us, like ice cream, four-cheese thick crust pepperoni pizza, an entire bag of honey BBQ potato chips, and the list goes on.
We know we can’t eat like that and expect to stay healthy. There is a myriad of foods that can help mitigate some of your menopause symptoms.
This should go without saying. Stay hydrated the right way. Put down that diet soda (you don’t really want to put that in your body, do you?) and do your body good. If plain water doesn’t float your boat (see what I did there?), try infusing it with fresh fruit. All that water will help to keep you from drying out.
Speaking of weight gain, it not only makes you feel not like yourself, that extra weight can also have an impact on your health by increasing your risk for some forms of cancer and heart disease. Fiber, which can help you feel full even while eating less, to the rescue. Many vegetables (carrots, lima beans, brussels sprouts, spinach, artichokes, asparagus and more) are high in fiber. A veggie plate sounds pretty good right about now, doesn’t it? You can also get your fill with whole grains such as quinoa, and fruits like raspberries and quinoa. Bonus: fiber can help you combat irregularity and bloating.
Calcium is extremely important for menopausal women. Bone degeneration is a very real possibility during menopause and can result in osteoporosis. Calcium can be taken in supplement form, but the best way to take it is from food sources. However, make sure the foods you choose are not overly processed. Try broccoli, sardines and canned salmon, almonds, dark leafy greens (collards, kale and spinach), milk and figs.
All that wonderful calcium that you’re about to take in needs to be absorbed into your body. Vitamin D, also called the “sunshine vitamin,” helps with that absorption as well as promotes bone growth. Some research suggests that vitamin D supplements can help boost weight loss. So, go ahead and have yourself a helping of yogurt, eggs, fortified milk and even mushrooms.
To help maintain ideal estrogen-progesterone balance, try tomatoes, which contains large amounts of vitamin B-6. Not only that, they also contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. When cooked down, the cell walls are broken down, providing even more lycopene.
Omega-3 Fats and Vitamin B
Got mood swings? Foods rich in omega-3 fats and vitamin B can help with that. Get your fill of essential fats from foods like salmon, oysters, tuna, avocados, mackerel and soybeans. When looking for good sources of vitamin B, select from foods like poultry, lentils, whole grains and lean meats.
One final note . . .
If you want to get ahead of menopause and the ensuing symptoms, you need to take the wheel and take control. When it comes to your weight, moderation is key. When you eat the right foods in the right doses, you’re doing your menopausal body a world of good.
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