ACCREDITED NUTRITIONIST AND AUTHOR OF THE MENOPAUSE DIET, FAYE JAMES GIVES HER TOP TOPS
Menopause is a natural transition that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. While this phase brings about various changes in the body, one of the most common challenges many women face is weight gain.
Fluctuating hormones, slowed metabolism, and lifestyle factors can contribute to the extra pounds that seem to accumulate around the waist. Here are my ten effective strategies to combat menopausal weight gain and support your journey towards optimal wellness.
1. PRIORITISE PROTEIN INTAKE
As estrogen levels decline during menopause, maintaining muscle mass becomes crucial. Including lean sources of protein in your diet, such as poultry, fish, beans, and lentils, can help preserve muscle tissue and support metabolism. Protein also keeps you feeling full, reducing the likelihood of overeating.
2. CHOOSE WHOLE FOODS
Opt for whole foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods are nutrient-dense and provide essential vitamins, minerals, and fibre. Fibre, in particular, aids digestion, promotes a feeling of fullness, and can help manage blood sugar levels.
3. EMBRACE HEALTHY FATS
Incorporate sources of healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. These fats provide satiety and support hormonal balance. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, can help reduce inflammation and support heart health.
4. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Mindful eating involves paying attention to hunger and fullness cues and savouring each bite. Eating slowly and mindfully can prevent overeating and improve digestion. Engage your senses, appreciate the flavours, and be attuned to your body’s signals.
5. STAY HYDRATED
Proper hydration is essential for overall health and can aid weight management. Drinking water throughout the day helps control appetite and supports metabolism. Herbal teas are also great options to stay hydrated while enjoying additional health benefits.
6. MANAGE STRESS
Stress can contribute to weight gain and disrupt hormonal balance. Engage in stress-reduction techniques such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and spending time in nature. Prioritising self-care can have a positive impact on both your mental and physical well-being.
7. GET MOVING
Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight during menopause. Incorporate a mix of cardiovascular exercises, strength training, and flexibility exercises into your routine. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
8. FOCUS ON BONE HEALTH
Menopause is associated with a decline in bone density. Include calcium-rich foods like dairy products, fortified plant-based milk, leafy greens, and nuts in your diet to support bone health. Vitamin D, obtained through sunlight exposure or supplements, is also crucial for calcium absorption.
9. MONITOR PORTIONS
As metabolism slows down during menopause, portion control becomes important. Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid consuming more calories than your body needs. Using smaller plates and bowls can help you manage portion sizes effectively.
10. SEEK PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE
Every individual’s journey through menopause is unique. Consulting with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider can provide personalised guidance based on your specific needs, preferences, and health conditions. A professional can help create a balanced eating plan that aligns with your wellness goals. Menopause is a transformative phase that brings about changes in various aspects of a woman’s life, including her body composition. However, weight gain during this time doesn’t have to be inevitable.
Remember that menopause is a natural process, and embracing a healthy lifestyle can empower you to make positive choices that support your body and mind. By focusing on nourishing your body, staying active, and nurturing your well-being, you can thrive through this phase and enjoy a vibrant and fulfilling life.
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Faye James is an Accredited Nutritionist, a Member of Nutrition Council Australia, an associate member of the Australian Menopause Society, a Recipe Developer and the author of cookbooks The Menopause Diet (2023) a Recipe Developer and the author of cookbooks The Menopause Diet (2023) The 10:10 Diet (2019) and The Long Life Plan (2018) and a food, beauty and health journalist with over 20 years of experience. Follow her on instagram @fayecelinejames