Your added weight is a perfectly normal symptom of menopause and you need not be concerned – that is, as long as you’re willing to take the necessary steps to drop the extra fat surrounding your waistline. You see if you keep the weight on and let it continue to accumulate, you’ll put yourself at risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many other chronic illnesses associated with obesity.
So, what’s the solution? Believe it or not, it’s actually just common sense and really very simple. You can eliminate menopausal weight gain, as well as other symptoms associated with menopause by eating healthy, controlling your caloric consumption and consuming the proper nutrients.
As your estrogen level declines, your body will naturally look for other places from where to get needed estrogen. Since your fat cells are capable of producing estrogen, your body works harder to convert your consumed calories into fat. Some foods are metabolized too quickly, thus causing unhealthy spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels, which results in additional fat accumulation. Because of this, you’ll want to avoid these foods, which include white rice, potatoes and white bread. Instead, add wholegrain bread, oats, rye and wheat germ to your diet.
You’ll also want to eliminate fried foods; instead bake or broil when you cook. Baked and broiled foods aren’t just healthier, but they can actually be more appealing to the taste buds. When cooking with oils, avoid using processed cooking oils. Alternatively, use unprocessed oils, such as extra virgin olive oil, canola, wheat germ and flaxseed oil.
When you feel like having a snack, reach for nuts, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower), dried fruits and fresh fruit. Try to stick with melons, bananas, oranges and lemons, as these fruits are high in potassium, which is an excellent source to help balance sodium and water retention. You’ll also want to increase your daily intake of vegetables, including salad (preferably made with romaine or bib lettuce, which contain more nutritional value than does iceberg lettuce), yam and dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and cabbage. Peppers and tomatoes aren’t just beneficial to your health and diet, but they’re quite tasty and can add a lot to your recipes.
Soy foods are fast becoming a popular choice to reduce symptoms of menopause. Soy foods include soybeans, calcium-fortified soy milk, soy yogurt, tofu and others. I’ll admit that I haven’t yet indulged in soy-fortified foods, but it’s said that the benefits of their consumption are quite significant.
I highly recommend that you drink more mineral and bottled water, and reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol. This will significantly reduce the incidence of hot flashes.
Of course, you’ll be tempted to stray from healthy eating once in awhile, which is okay – as long as you make it an occasional treat and not a regular practice. If you stick to the guidelines I mentioned, you will notice a reduction in many menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, bloating, water retention, fatigue and mood swings.
Obviously, by consuming foods low in calories and fat you’ll also notice that you’re better able to control the weight gain associated with menopause. By adding a regular exercise program to your lifestyle, not only will you control your weight, but you’ll lose a significant amount of weight, as well. Fortunately, the foods that I’ve outlined will no doubt give you the energy needed to actively exercise each day. If you include weight training you’ll build muscle, become lean and toned (for real – even at our age!) and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
When we were young girls we didn’t aspire to experience menopause. As a matter of fact, I can say with confidence that not one ten-year-old girl has ever muttered the words “When I grow up I want to be menopausal.” The fact is, if we’re lucky enough to experience life, menopause is just a natural part of being a woman. It’s not the end, but rather a very beautiful beginning of self confidence, maturity, beauty and an active lifestyle – that is, if you choose to make it so.
By: Susan Megge
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