Savoring the Journey: Nourishing Your Body During Peri and Post Menopause
Ah, the menopause stage… the grand finale of a woman’s reproductive journey. And let me tell you, this transitional phase brings along a bag of surprises, with each woman experiencing it in her unique way. Some of my clients experience a slew of symptoms, while others have absolutely no symptoms.
During menopause, your body decides to mix things up a bit. Weight gain around your middle section is practically guaranteed. I’m not going to list the other symptoms, because quite frankly, it can be depressing. However, I do want to talk about hormones. Your estrogen and progesterone, as well as testosterone levels, begin to decline during the menopause transition phase. This can bring about mood swings, irritability, tiredness, and even the occasional bout of anxiety and stress. And as the hormones bid farewell, your metabolism may decide to go on vacation as well. Sluggish metabolism means burning calories becomes a bit trickier, resulting in reduced muscle mass and an unwelcome increase in fat storage.
But fret not, there are things you can do to stay healthy and strong throughout perimenopause and beyond. A healthy diet is like the superhero of menopause. A nutritious Mediterranean diet packed with fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, lean protein, and legumes is your secret weapon. Not only does it provide essential nutrients and help balance those pesky hormones, but it also revs up your metabolism and provides fiber (a key to weight loss). Additionally, at age 50, you need 200 fewer calories a day than you did when you were 20, assuming you are equally active. After age 60, you need 400-500 calories less.
I cannot stress the importance of protein as we age! Not only does it help you feel full longer, it’s like a secret recipe for maintaining muscle mass and improving bone health. Studies suggest that women over 50 should aim for approximately 20 to 25 grams of protein per meal. Besides lean protein and tofu, adding collagen protein to your coffee, protein smoothies, low fat cottage cheese, legumes, and even hemp seeds will help you reach your protein goal.
And let’s not forget the power of fiber, prebiotics, and probiotics. These heroes team up to tackle digestive issues like indigestion, constipation, and heartburn. Non or low-fat Greek yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and sauerkraut are great choices.
If you’re experiencing hot flashes and night sweats, Omega-3 fatty acids to the rescue! Fish like salmon, anchovies, and mackerel, as well as seeds like hemp, chia, and flaxseeds, can help ease those pesky hot flashes and night sweats. Plus, they’re great for your heart health too.
Now, let’s talk about the “avoid at all costs” food list. When it comes to weight gain during menopause, steer clear of ultra-processed and high-calorie goodies. Say no to fast foods, oily temptations, excessively fried treats, cookies and cakes, foods loaded with added sugar, salty snacks, processed meats, sweetened beverages, and alcohol.
Remember to keep those recommended and no-no food items in mind when crafting your diet plan. Stick to the good stuff and kick those unnecessary foods to the curb!