THE BLOG

Minimize the Menopausal Middle

02/25/2015 11:19 am ET | Updated Apr 27, 2015
Blend Images/John Fedele via Getty Images

Aging is a luxury and one that should not be taken for granted.

Age brings wisdom not afforded to you in your youth. It brings memories not yet created in youth. It can bring sadness that has helped you recognize joy. It also brings change and loss. I remember having a conversation with a client who was 70 years old. She said that aging is all about loss. While I was quite a bit younger than she at the time, I asked her to clarify her thought. She said, "As I've aged, I've lost family members, friends, belongings, and a job." While there are sad times in life, what they bring is change, and change can be difficult.

Menopause is also a change. The perimenopause, menopause, and postmenopausal cycle can take up to 10 years to complete. During these years changes will take place within your mind and body that most women are not prepared for. Of course, my first piece of advice is to speak with your doctor. Get the facts you need, and then listen to the messages of your body.

One of the messages your body will be sending you is that it's time to change your eating. You can no longer eat the way you once did and maintain that same body weight. During menopausal years, many women who have never had a weight problem find themselves gaining weight. In my experience, these women have not been eating well for years. Others are overweight as they enter menopause and are now gaining weight faster and in different areas of their body. Both types of women in this age bracket seek my counsel and say that they are gaining weight in their middle and can't seem to lose it like they once did. I call that the "menopausal middle," and I suggest to these clients that they strive to minimize the menopausal middle.

You cannot lose weight like you did in your younger years for a few reasons:

  • As you age you lose muscle mass and your metabolism slows.
  • You may have heath conditions and are now taking medications.
  • You may not be as active as you were years ago.
  • You may not metabolize certain foods like sugar items and white carbohydrates as you once did.

So what's a woman to do? Rather than complain about menopausal symptoms, recognize that you are entering another phase of your life that you have been afforded the luxury to achieve.

Make an action plan that is a good fit with your life. Your lifestyle may change drastically during these years and your action plan needs to be flexible to fit the ever-changing conditions. Get active. If you already are, it's time to increase your activity. Exercise smartly to avoid injury.

The type of food, and how much you eat of it, is a major factor in successfully managing your menopausal symptoms. Be sure to get your vital nutrients from quality food:

  • Protein is a compound that builds and repairs muscle tissues. Proteins are found in dairy foods, eggs, poultry, meats, grains, legumes and vegetables. Meat (especially red meat) is a great source of iron, zinc, and vitamin B12.
  • Fat supplies energy. It helps to transport and absorb fat-soluble vitamins and allows the gallbladder to function. Monounsaturated Fat should be the fat most used. These fats can lower the bad LDL cholesterol and raise the good HDL cholesterol. These fats include olive oil, peanut oils, most nuts, olives, and avocados.
  • Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. Many of our vitamin and mineral requirements are largely met through carbohydrate-rich foods. Complex carbohydrates, when broken down, provide the body with an abundance of glucose for energy. These foods include breads, starchy vegetables, pasta and grains, particularly whole grains like wheat, rice, and oats.
  • Milk and milk products provide calcium that is important at any age. Its major role is to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. A good source of calcium can be found in milk, yogurt, cheese, salmon, and sardines. Dark green leafy vegetables and broccoli are also good sources of calcium.
  • Fruits and Vegetables provide you with much-needed vitamins especially in the skin wash well and eat the skins. Try to eat vegetables closest to their natural state. Many vitamins are lost during cooking.
  • Water is essential for digesting food and absorbing nutrients. It transports nutrients and oxygen to cells and carries wastes out of the body. Water is critical in regulating body temperature and preventing constipation.

The menopausal years can be an exciting time of change for many reasons. Staying healthy makes it even more exciting!!