The 'M' word Part 3 - avoiding weight gain in menopause

Weight gain after the menopause is not inevitable. It is true that oestrogen helps with weight gain because of its effect on metabolism. As we age our metabolism slows which only adds to the problem. Fight back with a good diet, exercise, adequate sleep and taking steps to reduce stress.  

Let's start with diet. A good diet should be built around fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, chickpeas, and wholegrain cereals If you are not vegan add a little fish including oily fish, eggs, poultry (no skin) and occasional lean red meat or cheese. If you are vegan you might also include tofu.

Aim to eat high GI foods which will not cause blood glucose levels to rise sharply then plummet leaving you hungry and irritable. Choose wholegrain cereals rather than refined with added sugars (look out for ‘barley malt’, maltose etc which are essentially SUGAR). 
Porridge with fruit makes a satisfying breakfast that will keep you going until lunch. Choose brown rice over white, wholemeal bread over white, and wholegrain pasta. Sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes. Consider alternatives to bread such as quinoa, oatcakes, crispbreads.

Even when you are dieting you need to feel satisfied by every meal. Pile your plate up with salad made from salad leaves, tomatoes, peppers, radish, cucumber, radish, spring onion or red onion with a low calorie dressing or vegetables (other than potatoes and parsnips) which are low calorie but leave you feeling you have had plenty to eat. Think about making your own soups from left over vegetables blended with stock as a starter. Including a soup in your meal tends to lower the amount you eat overall and keep you satisfied for longer. All this will mean you are getting at least your 5 a day which will provide you with antioxidants. These antioxidants will neutralise any free radicals that might be released as you lose weight.  

Optimize nutrition by avoiding sugar in cakes, pastries, sweets etc and processed foods.

SNACKS ARE ALLOWED - Oatcakes or rice cakes with hummus make a good savory snack or for something sweeter what about the summer fruits that are available at the moment such as strawberries and peaches 

Exercise can help reverse the decrease in muscle mass that often accompanies aging and muscle burns calories. This is why it is important to include exercise in your daily routine. Ideally this should include an aerobic form of exercise such as power walking or High Intensity Interval training (HIIT) which is trending at the moment. HIIT involves short burst of high intensity aerobic activity followed by a recovery period. The benefits of HIIT are that it burns fat and builds muscle. Do not undertake any form of exercise however without the consent of your doctor.  A more gentle approach would be to try yoga. Here are a few ways yoga can help you with weight loss.
  • Certain types of yoga, such as Ashtanga, Power Yoga and Vinyassa with dynamic sequences burn calories
  • Yoga helps you become more in tune with your body, so that you eat mindfully
  • Yoga reduces stress (also see below).  As overeating is often an emotional issue, reducing stress can help with weight loss
  • Yoga regulates the thyroid gland (as it does all the endocrine glands) which regulates metabolism
  • Yoga improves sleep (see below for how this can help with weight loss)
  • Yoga tones your body including the abdominal area 
  • Yoga improves posture leading to a slimmer appearance
Below are some yoga videos from my YouTube channel to help with weight loss
'Yoga for Weight Loss- Part 1' 
'Yoga for Weight Loss- Part 2' 
'New Year, New You Series- Yoga for weight loss'-

It is important to get good quality sleep. This brings about a balance between two hormones that affect your eating habits, gherlin and leptin. When you are sleep deprived you have more gherlin, the hormone that triggers eating and less leptin the hormone that signal that you are satiated.  

Stress exacerbates the problem of weight gain around your middle. The culprit is cortisol secreted by the adrenal glands when you are stressed.  This hormone can increase your appetite and cause the resulting fat cells to be stored on your tummy. Try yoga, meditation or Tai Chi.

Allergies or food intolerances can sometimes make you gain weight so if you suspect that allergies/intolerances are to blame have an allergy test.

Please see also 'The M-Word Part 1-Diet to help ease your way through the menopause'- and 'The 'M' word Part 2 - coping with 'brain fog', and memory impairment' 

Stay slim,

Love Janet x

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