When women speak of menopause, they actually mean peri-menopause; a period in a woman’s life when she is transitioning from being pre-menopausal to menopausal and becoming infertile without the worry or risk of getting pregnant or having her periods. The majority of women are weary of the signs and symptoms that accompany menopause. Weight gain is one of the menopausal symptoms that often affects a woman’s self-esteem as it changes the appearance of the woman. For many women, the body chooses to hold onto the fat -- especially around the tummy. This has been associated with the declining level of estrogen in the body. Fat is a source of estrogen; therefore, the body holds on to fat in a bid to restore the balance caused by the declining levels of estrogen. This presents a challenge to women. Most women who exercise find it very difficult to lose fat during menopause, at least not as quickly as when they were in their 20s.
So what are the 6 diet mistakes that menopausal women make that could lead to weight gain during the menopausal period?
Processed foods are often simple in nature and lack the complexity needed for a healthy weight for menopausal women. Some of the refined carbohydrates include refined white wheat flour, refined rice, fast food take-out, pasta, breakfast cereals, cakes, and biscuits. It is important for a woman to focus on carbohydrates that are not refined so that they will provide the body with complex carbohydrates which will enrich one’s health because of the many nutrients inherent in such products. They include unrefined products like wheat, maize, rice, and other cereals. In addition, a woman can get carbohydrates from sweet potatoes and yams among others.
In addition, it is important to limit the excessive intake of carbohydrates as they are easy to ingest but very difficult to cut down on the weight generated from excess carbohydrates due to the decreased levels of metabolism at the time of menopause.
Minimize sugar intake
Eliminating sugar has now become a popular topic in the health cycles; a majority of diseases are now being traced to sugar because of some of the ingredients used to make it. The popular commercial substitutes for sugars are equally dangerous. A menopausal woman is better off focusing on natural sources of sugar like in honey, fruits, and dates; and those too have to be consumed in moderation. Sugar intake has also been associated with an increase in menopausal symptoms; it is better used at a bare minimum.
Eliminate alcohol intake
With menopause, the body is aging and may therefore not function as efficiently as it used to when a woman was younger. Alcohol is known for having empty calories; it slows down the clearance of metabolic waste and estrogen. The body at menopause is less tolerant of alcohol; the liver, therefore, can be burdened by alcohol intake and result in the accumulation of more tummy weight.
While stopping alcohol consumption abruptly could lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, it is important to first determine that you want to quit drinking alcohol. Start reducing your alcohol intake by small amounts. In addition, drink plenty of water in between consuming alcoholic beverages and try drinking smoothies that will boost your liver function on a daily basis.
Reduce fat intake
There has been a lot of talk about cutting down the amount of fat as it leads to weight gain during menopause. Menopausal women need healthy fats in their diet; do not just eliminate fats and not replace them. Fat-free foods lack essential oils such as omega three. It is important that a woman ensures there are enough of the necessary fatty acids in her diet. Some of the healthy sources of fats and fatty acids include: coconut, nuts, avocado, sardines, herring, and flax seed among others. These healthy fats help with vaginal dryness, dry skin, cracking nails, thinning hair, depression, fatigue, and difficulty losing weight.
Reduce salt intake
Salt is an indirect factor when it comes to weight gain. No one eats such fast foods like fries without a sprinkle of salt for the taste! And given the addictive nature of such fast foods, you are bound to take in excessive salts. During menopause, the rate of bone loss is faster than the rate of bone creation. This leads to porous bones that can easily fracture. When excessive salt (especially the raw-added salt on foods) in ingested, the body has to break down some more of the bones to enable the processing and absorption of the excess salt. This exacerbates the whole problem of bone loss and osteoporosis. With more weight and less bone strength, a woman in menopause could easily get fractures.
Too many animal products
The vibe on meat and animal products is now at its climax with the world health organization cautioning against meats. Meats take a lot of time to be digested and absorbed in the body. This leads to the formation of un-metabolized layers in the colon that would form fertile grounds for diseases and the addition of more weight in and around the stomach area. Vegan diets, on the other hand, have been shown to help eliminate not only weight gained but all menopause symptoms.