All women know that menopause is an expected and natural part of life. For women, mid-life is around 52 years, and typically also coincides with the average age most women go through menopause. Menopause is a permanent and non-reversible process during which the ovaries stop producing. There are many hormonal changes, including the reduction in the estradiol hormone and a in FSH.
Weight gain is a common phenomenon to most women during this time. Usually the cases of this unwanted weight gain have to do with decreased physical activity, changes in the metabolism, genetic predisposition, age and a lack of estrogen.
Generally speaking the dietary needs of women going through menopause are not much different than those of childbearing ages, but it would still be wise to consume fewer calories by cutting portion sizes a bit. It’s also important to increase physical activity to maintain both weight and bone health.
To be successful, it is recommended that women eat a healthy diet with a variety of foods for balanced nutrition. The goal being to fuel the body with all of the macro-nutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates), minerals, vitamins and nutrients it needs.
Specifically, it would be good to
- Consume five servings of fruit and vegetables daily (3 fruit and two salads) and three servings dairy (one serving = 1 cup milk or 1 yogurt)
- Choose whole grains and reduce sugar intake
- Reduce consumption of red meat to once per week and prefer white meat (chicken, turkey) and fish 2-3 times per week
- Reduce salt intake
- Limit consumption of alcoholic beverages to one daily (or avoid altogether)
- Consume no more than 5 servings of fat daily (one serving = 1 tbsp olive oil, 5 large olives or 6 almonds)
- Increase water consumption to 8-10 glasses per day
- Include foods in your diet rich in calcium (milk, yogurt and small fish with their bones) and vitamin D (fatty fish and egg yolk) to avoid the risk of osteoporosis.
The best way to manage weight during menopause is to combine systematic and consistent exercise with a balanced diet of smaller portions.