Diet Overview

The Best Diet For Menopausal Women

You may be wondering about the best diet for women over 50. Is there a diet which is better for menopausal women? Whether you are menopausal or not, it will eventually happen. What exactly is better to eat and to avoid during this life stage?

Clearly, a healthy diet is beneficial to everyone, not just mature women. However, there are some dietary issues to consider if you are in this age group. Changes to your weight during this stage in your life is largely related to hormones. Some women, to their dismay, develop weight around their tummy which they never had before:( This is called the “menopause belly”. A decrease in insulin sensitivity is associated with menopause. This has to do with your body’s ability to utilize carbohydrates as fuel, instead of storing them as fat. With reduced insulin sensitivity, you may be more likely to store those carbs on your belly, hips and thighs. Ugh!

Beware the brittle bones

Another thing to consider when you reach menopause: you will experience a drop in bone density, and some women develop Osteoporosis as a result of this. But, it is not all doom and gloom, and there are certainly some things you can do to prevent or improve this. Following a healthy nutrition plan can certainly help. Here are some important supplements to include in your diet:

Calcium: this aids you in replenishing the nutrients you need to assist with your bone density. Foods such as dairy products, salmon and sardines, legumes and broccoli should be consumed. You need about 1200 mg daily, which you can take as a supplement if you’re not eating enough calcium-containing foods.

Fiber: this adds bulk to your meals, making you feel fuller for longer, which assists with weight control. It also assists with keeping your bowels in good working condition. And who doesn’t need that? Here you need fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread, rice and pasta. You’ll need around 21 g of fiber daily.

Iron: although your need for iron goes down in your menopausal years (you are no longer menstruating), you can get your needs through the following food types – lean red meats, liver, eggs and nuts. You need around 8 mg per day.

Water: always important, helps keep your skin less prone to dryness. Have your 8 glasses per day as you’ve heard all your life. It’s good advice!

Avoid: fast foods, white carbohydrates such as white rice, potatoes and pasta, sugar (all types) and too much salt. This is wise advice for anyone, and helps to control your weight.  Consume these items as an occasional treat, and not for daily consumption.

There is no reason not to be healthy and thriving during this period of your life, with a few simple lifestyle changes. To ensure that you are getting the nutrients you need for optimal health, it may be advisable to take a few choice supplements.

What food to eat – What diet to follow?

Yep, I know. It is a confusing maze of what to eat and what not to eat out there! Worst of all, things seems to change at an alarming rate. First you’re told to go “low fat”. Then you’re told to go “high fat”. Then the cry is “cut out carbs!” and then, “cut out sugar!” What exactly CAN we eat? It seems like almost nothing! 

Diets? I have tried them all! Most women I know have been on at least one diet in their lives. I started trying out various diets in my early 30’s when I decided my post-baby body was not looking like I wanted it to…I had become very “hippy” and to my mind, lopsided looking. I found something called the “Hip and Thigh Diet” by Rosemary Conley which was popular at the time. Anyone remember this one?

It involved cutting out ALL forms of dietary fat and was supposed to shred fat from your hips and thighs. Well, it worked like a charm! I lost a ton of weight from those areas and was looking fabulous. The only thing – I got really ill. I had a sudden and violent gallstone attack which my doctor said was due to the extreme dietary changes I’d foisted on my body:( Apparently, my body did not appreciate this way of eating. I’m not sure if others experienced the same thing, or if they managed to keep all fat from their diets…

Taking on a diet including dietary fat again, I started to put on weight. The next thing I came across was a way of eating which was very low carbohydrate. On this plan, you ate “diet” low carb products – diet cereals, brown rice, no potatoes (how bad is life with no potatoes?!) and lots of green vegetables. It was pretty much meat and greens. It was boring and not sustainable beyond a few weeks.

The next diet was low fat dominant. You had to be mindful of carbs and also eat low fat products. Low fat yogurt, milk and lean meat. Only eat egg yolks, not the whole egg. That type of thing. I was a little weary of going too low fat because of my previous experience…if you don’t know, having a gallstone attack is like being in labor, but without the joy of the baby!

Two more eating protocols were on my agenda. You will have heard of both of them as both are still popular:

Paleo

This is a diet based on how our ancient ancestors ate, back in the day when you had to hunt down your food, or BE the food! Or you had to grow it yourself. We’re talking about seriously fresh ingredients here! This eating plan includes a lot of good quality protein, particularly organic if you can find and afford it. You also get to eat the “good” fats, such as avocados, olive oil and butter. Low carbohydrates, preferably brown rice and sweet or baby potatoes made life more palatable. This I could do!

Banting

This plan is fairly similar to the Paleo diet, except you get to eat a LOT more fat. I’m talking bacon and egg breakfasts on a regular basis.  I’m talking baked potatoes with butter or sour cream! I’m talking real cream in your coffee! Very palatable to many people who are used to a high fat diet. As for me, I found the fat content a little too much to tolerate. I just can’t do it!

Conclusion

My personal take on all of this (after I’d really put my poor, long suffering body through so much!), is that Paleo-style is the way to go. It just makes more sense to me. Fresh ingredients in a world of plastic, toxic, chemically-based junk that passes for food is pure heaven!

Freshly grown fruit and vegetables just taste so much better. Having protein which actually LOOKS like what it is meant to be, is a lot safer to eat. Consider a whole roasting chicken compared to crumbed chicken nuggets…yuck. Could actually be anything? The breading contains preservatives and chemicals which you should not be putting into your body.

This is the one plan that can be sustainable over the long term. It does not remove all joy from your life – you can still eat a little cream, some dark chocolate and occasionally enjoy a glass of wine. It is not so high in fat that it leads to nausea. My mind cannot wrap around piles of fatty food.

It works well for me, allowing me to lose around 33 pounds without feeling deprived. And it just makes sense.

 

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