The first thing to say is don’t worry, make eating a pleasure, enjoy tastes, textures, flavours and new things!
We understand that your weight and body shape can change at midlife. Usually this is caused by fluctuations in hormones, and many women find it confusing that they gain weight, even though their diet hasn’t changed. They may try different diets or different ways of eating. There is a lot of confusion on social media now about this. Is low fat best, or low sugar? Is it ok to snack? Is a bedtime snack a good idea?
Midlife is a time to reflect on the here and now, and to focus on looking after your body, to consider your food choices and exercise and to think about changes you can make to protect your future health. I don’t recommend any specific type of diet but do not support a low fat diet, and I do support a diet low in refined carbohydrates. Snacking can make up a fifth of your daily intake of food, so ensuring what you eat is healthy is important. From my reading, try and avoid a bedtime snack, as eating late can cause a rise in blood sugar, and the fluctuating blood sugar levels can consequently affect your sleep.
Healthy eating is not all about weight management, gut health is equally important. Do click on the link to read more about how to improve your gut health.
These are some things to consider when making choices on what you may enjoy to eat:
- Find out about a Mediterranean- style diet ensuring you are eating enough protein with each meal. Many women do not eat enough protein, and protein is filling, and is broken down to amino acids which help with repair and is especially important for healthy muscles and bones.
- Experiment with new foods, make it interesting and colourful trying a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, aim for 30 different types each week helps to feed our gut microbiome. You can pre-fill jars with different varieties of nuts and seeds, for example, to sprinkle on yogurt to get variety.
- Think about your gut health, this link takes you to some ideas.
- Try and avoid white refined carbohydrates, as these cause a rapid increase in your blood glucose which make mood swings worse, and can make you feel tired, when the glucose level suddenly drops again.
- Aim for a diet low in ultra-processed foods, as these can be high in sugar. Ultra-processed foods typically have five or more ingredients and contain substances such as preservatives, emulsifiers, sweeteners, and artificial colours and flavours. Examples might be a flavoured yogurt or breakfast cereals.
- Explore Vitamin D-rich foods, this is important to protect the bones and is the only supplement I recommend you invest in taking.
- Enjoy iron rich foods, often women can become anaemic, or have a low ferritin if they have heavy bleeding in perimenopause.
- Choose food rich in calcium, to protect your bones from osteoporosis. Click the link to see how much calcium you eat, it’s best that this comes from your diet. After menopause we recommend 1200mg of calcium per day. A 800iu a day Vitamin D tablet is recommended daily.
We always talk about guiding you to try and keep your body mass index (BMI) within a healthy range between 19-25kg/m2, if you can. We gain weight as we age and menopause affects where our body fat is stored.