The menopause is a perfectly natural transition in the life of every female and not something to be afraid of. Understanding what’s happening in your body, and what physical, mental, and emotional effects you may experience, will help to ease* the anxiety or fear of what you are (or may soon be) going through.
Eating Through the Menopause
During the menopause and after, we now know that there are many foods all of which are featured in this article that have specific, positive effects on your health and well-being because of the particular nutrients and/or chemicals they contain.
The General Rules of Healthy Eating For Adults Still Apply In The Menopausal Years:
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day (seven is better*). Make sure to have both fruit and vegetables not all fruit, for example. Eat a rainbow of different colored fruit and vegetables, and choose from different types of vegetables (e.g. leafy greens, root vegetables, legumes) and fruits (stone fruits, berries, pip fruits, exotic fruits) so that you get a wide variety of all the beneficial chemicals and compounds in the different types.
- Eat adequate protein lean meat, poultry, seafood, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy produce*, nuts, seeds and pulses, for example. Include oily fish in your diet at least 2–3 times a week.
- Eat complex rather than simple carbohydrates i.e. choose wholegrain or whole-meal bread, whole grain cereals for breakfast and brown rice and whole-wheat pasta rather than the highly refined white types. Keep sugar and intake of other sweeteners low.
- Include a moderate amount of fat in your diet, but make this monounsaturated fat (e.g. olive oil) or other healthy oils, much of the time. Cut down on saturated fats, such as those in full fat dairy and fatty meat, and Tran’s fats, which are used in many baked goods, snacks and margarines.
- Try to eat a natural diet not too many packets, tins and highly refined processed foods.
- Keep alcohol intake to 1–2 small glasses a day, and have at least 2 days alcohol- free a week.
Managing Weight Crisis in Menopause
I hope you’re managing your midlife weight crisis better* already. Just knowing the facts about your menopausal fat cells can bring you out of the crisis mode. You know the weight gain is not your fault; you know a good part of it is out of your control*. But even with this knowledge, society’s relentless pressure to remain thin and youthful can cause you to dislike your body, and thus yourself. Disliking your body may seem quite normal. All of your friends make negative comments about their bodies. Weight, dieting and eating are the most popular topics of conversation.
Are you in weight crisis? Answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the following five questions:
- Are you very concerned about your appearance and weight?
- Do your concerns preoccupy you for a total of an hour or more a day?
- Have your feelings about your looks caused distress or torment?
- Have these feelings significantly interfered with relationships, family, occupation or education?
- Are there things you avoid because of your weight (i.e. social engagements, clothes shopping, the beach)?
Almost every woman I know answers ‘Yes’ to many of these questions. If you answered ‘Yes’ to all five, then you may have the extreme of poor body image called Body Dysmorphic Disorder.
It’s a crippling preoccupation with our bodies where weight loss* is our number one goal and weight gain is our number one fear. This preoccupation directs our actions, eating behaviors and lives.
Psychology Today magazine recently conducted a readers’ survey, and one question they asked was ‘Would you trade five years of your life for a five-pound weight loss*?’ A disconcerting 15 per cent said yes! Has weight loss* become more important than living?
Glamour did a survey a number of years ago and found that the majority of the 30,000 women polled would choose weight loss* over success at work and love at home. Has found the magical* solution to weight loss* become more important than finding love? In our society, thinness is overvalued, and we are led to believe that achieving it is the vehicle to happiness, love and success.
Exercise, or regular exercise, is not just a fad that you can go in and out of anytime you want. Exercise is something that needs to be done with dedication and perseverance. There are some things that a beginner should know about exercise, whether they are into losing weight, cardio exercises, or bodybuilding. Here are some of the basic principles of exercise that everyone should know.
Recent studies show that it is better* to exercise during the afternoon rather than in the morning. This time of day is where your body’s energy level is at its peak. In the morning, your energy level is comparably low. However, there is a traditional belief that starting your day with exercise will make you feel more alive all throughout the day. The old belief is also true, but exercising in the afternoon spares you more energy to endure the morning’s activities.
1. Acquiring Meno-Positive Attitudes. Your feelings about the transition, your body and your weight affect your experience. Those women who have the most positive attitudes going into the transition have the least amount of weight gain and other potential problems by the time they come out of the transition.
2. Mastering Meno-Positive Fitness. Exercise is second only to attitudes in how you transition through the menopause. Those women who exercise regularly gain only one half the weight of those who are sedentary, but your exercise program must be tailored to work specifically for the menopause.
3. Embracing Meno-Positive Eating Habits. How you structure your eating, when you eat, how often you eat and how much you eat can either cause more fat storage or less*.
4. Maximizing Meno-Positive Food Choices. What you eat can also affect your transition and how much weight you gain. The focus is not on reducing* calories and fat, it’s on increasing* phytoestrogens (plant sources of estrogen), responding to your food cravings, and trusting your body’s food messages.
5. Living a Meno-Positive Lifestyle. In addition to eating and exercising, other life- style choices can positively affect your midlife years and your weight. Taking care of your body, managing stress, setting aside time for relaxation or meditation, and adding laughter and happiness to your life can all have a powerful effect on how you feel and function each day.
The advice in this article is not intended for persons with chronic illnesses or other conditions that may be worsened by an unsupervised eating and/or exercise program.
The recommendations are not intended to replace or conflict with advice given to you by your doctor or other health professional, and I recommend that you do consult with your doctor. The article will give you all the research, education, facts, understanding, guidance and solutions you’ll need so that you can manage menopause weight gain and take it ‘like a woman’.
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