Menopause is that time of your life when you can easily pile on anywhere from 10 - 20 pounds if you do not keenly monitor your diet. Have you ever wondered why you now weigh more and sport a belly when you are really not eating anything different from what you have been all along? Beating the menopot belly is not about starving yourself or merely grazing on salads. It is all about intelligent food choices and portion control.
A few changes in your eating pattern and cooking styles - and you are all set to keep yourself healthy during perimenopause and all through menopause. The right foods can not only help keep the menopot at bay but can also help relieve menopausal issues such as thinning bones, fatigue, hot flashes and low energy levels.
Menopot diet tips
Don't ever try to starve yourself into a smaller waistline. You might instead just be fueling the body into starvation mode thereby adding to the inches. Instead, have many small meals during the day. This way your energy levels don't have sudden dips and you are less likely to binge at a meal. Avoid fizzy drinks containing phosphorus as they deplete your body reserves of magnesium and calcium. Opt for broiling and baking rather than frying.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Eat a variety of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, peppers, bak choy, pumpkin and zucchini. Include a rainbow of colors into your plate as colorful vegetables and fruits are brimming with phytochemicals. Deeper the color hue; higher the phytochemical concentration! Choose from brightly colored prunes, plums, pomegranates, kale, Brussels sprouts, avocado, carrots, watermelon, cranberries and guava.
Get enough fiber into your diet
Whole grains, fruits and vegetables can keep your digestive system in good shape. With about 21 gms of dietary fiber, you can keep constipation at bay as well as manage cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Water is the liquid oxygen according to Larrian Gillespie in her book 'The Menopause Diet'. Drink plenty of water to keep your cells hydrated and your skin moisturized. Keep aside a bottle for yourself so that you can keep track of your daily water intake. Keeping yourself well hydrated has other benefits too. Sipping water throughout the day helps you beat the bloat and offset vaginal dryness. Water can also help relieve the severity of hot flashes.
Not all fats are bad
Many women wrongly assume that the answer to menopot weight gain is to completely eliminate all fats from the diet. In fact, some fats are really beneficial as long as they are the healthy kind. Fats aid vitamin absorption, regulate hormones and manage insulin responses. Choose monounsaturated fat over trans-fat and saturated fat. Monounsaturated fats are usually rich in Vitamin E and play a role in reducing bad cholesterol and keeping heart disease at bay. Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, and herring are other sources of good fat.
Another beneficial component of fat is polyunsaturated fat (PUFA), found in plant-based foods and oils. Omega-3 fatty acids are one such PUFA that decreases your risk of heart disease and cancer. Mono-unsaturated Fatty Acid (MUFA) is yet another must-have in your diet to beat the belly fat.
For cooking, choose oils like olive oil, canola oil, flaxseed oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil or soybean oil. Grab a handful of nuts as a snack. Packed with MUFA, they help reduce your waistline. Go for pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios and peanuts. Sunflower seeds are another good snack option. Avoid trans-fat and saturated fats.
Avoid refined processed carbohydrates
Refined flour and white sugar are a no-no not just for menopausal women but for overall good health. They raise insulin levels and increase sugar cravings. On the other hand, whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice and steel-cut oats have low glycemic index and boost energy.
Pack in the protein
Plan your daily meals to include 60 gms of protein. Not only will it keep carb cravings at bay but protein has high satiety levels too. You can balance enough lean protein and high quality carbohydrates in your various meals during the day. Fish, whey protein and lean cuts of chicken and turkey are good sources of protein. Egg whites provide the protein advantage sans the fat.
Alcohol and menopot diet
Alcohol is fine, but in moderate limits. In fact this might be the right time to switch to red wine; so as to benefit from the flavonoid and non-flavonoid antioxidants in it. Moderate consumption of red wine can reduce bad cholesterol and prevent fatty deposits choking your arteries.
Don't skimp on the calcium
A common mistake with many women who are watching their weight is to keep away from dairy products. About 1200 mg of calcium is needed for your body; either in food or supplement form. Include plain yogurt, cheddar cheese and blue cheese or feta cheese. Other sources of dietary calcium include turnip greens, tofu, broccoli, pinto beans and salmon. Whip up exciting salads with cabbage, mustard greens, parsley, collard greens and asparagus.
Stock up on the soy
Packed with phytoestrogen and isoflavones, soy is also a rich source of calcium. Other options are tofu and edamame. Ever considered adding seaweed to your diet? Choose from Nori, Wakame, Kombu or Arame to supplement your body with natural hormones and plant chemicals.
This wonder seed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Powder it and store for use. Sprinkle on your cereal, yogurt and salads. Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogen lignans and alpha-linolenic acid.
Have your own bean counter
Beans are a nutritional source of fiber and a low-fat plant-based protein. Beans contain phytoestrogens, calcium and vital nutrients. Beans keep hunger pangs at bay as they slow down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream. Bean dips, bean casseroles and chilies are just a few of the things you can make with different varieties of beans. Add them to salads or stews.