Cessation of menstruation is called menopause. It is a part of life, just like puberty, and usually occurs naturally at an average age of 51. For some women, it can happen as early as 40 or as late as 55 years of age. There are three phases of menopause: perimenopause, menopause and post-menopause. Perimenopause is the time before the menopause; this can happen several years before the last menstrual period. After going an entire year without your period, you can say you have been through menopause and perimenopause is over. Post menopause follows menopause and lasts for rest of the life.
Menopause happens when ovaries stop producing two main hormones- oestrogen and progesterone. And this reduced level of hormones causes symptoms such as irregular period, hot flushes, mood swings, sleeplessness and weight gain.
Weight gain during menopause is very common. According to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics “Menopausal weight gain is not just uncomfortable, but it is also hard on your health. It is often correlated with the increased risk of heart diseases, high blood pressure and insulin resistance which can lead to diabetes”. But menopausal weight gain is not inevitable. Healthy eating habits and active lifestyle can reverse the changes.
How to prevent weight gain during and after menopause?
Of course, “eat healthy and exercise regularly” is the key to maintaining an ideal weight. During menopausal age, hormonal factors and decreased muscle mass creates more challenges for maintaining an ideal weight. So it is mandatory to follow weight loss basics more vigilantly.
Regular exercise has numerous health benefits for everyone. And during menopause regular exercise especially aerobic activities can help you shed those extra pounds. According to National Institute of Health, people who keep themselves engaged in any kind of aerobic activity have 6 inches smaller waistline than those who do not exercise. Strength training also plays a vital role in preventing osteoporosis. It helps in building muscle mass and improves metabolism. Experts recommended strength training exercise at least twice in a week.
Regular physical activities also improve overall mental and physical health. But it is always recommended to take a professional medical advice before starting any kind of exercise program.
Healthy and balanced diet
We all know that eating a healthy and balanced diet helps our body in many ways. It strengthens our immune system and prevents cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancers. But during menopause, managing your calorie intake is also very important. According to Mayo Clinic, to maintain your current weight, you might need about 200 fewer calories a day in your fifties than you did in your thirties and forties.
Diet has a vital role in controlling menopausal symptoms. According to British Nutrition Foundation, women from the eastern and western countries often have a different experience of the menopausal symptoms. And it is believed that differences in eating and dietary habits may account for this.
In order to get nutritional elements in the right proportion, it is good to follow some simple rules such as
- Eat in small portions. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast. Also, avoid the over-sized portions; prefer using a smaller plate, bowl and glass for maintaining calorie intake.
- Include whole grain, more fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products in your diet. These essential nutrients are must to strength the immune system.
- Avoid excess sugar, processed, refined and fried foods. But always ensure that you are getting enough to provide nutrients to keep you healthy during and after a menopausal period.
- Keep a food diary for managing your calorie intake. Practice mindful eating. Always try to plan a meal ahead. Use healthy cooking methods and try to give a healthy makeover to a routine dish. Here is a complete list for planning and cooking for a healthy menopause.
Menopausal diet , a book by Larrion Gillespie is a great book for inspiration if you want to adopt a more organised approach to healthy diet during menopause. The book unravels the mystery why women gain and lose weight differently than men. The author has developed 135 recipes or mini meals for women who love to eat their way to a healthy life. She has also explained the medical benefits of including certain foods and spices in your diet.
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Higher level of stress hormones may make weight loss or even maintenance of weight impossible. It may cause a metabolic disorder called ‘adrenal fatigue’. So during menopause, when you are already struggling with maintaining an ideal body weight, it is very important to manage your stress level effectively by using stress relieving techniques. Yoga, meditation, spending quality time alone, focusing on a hobby and sleeping better are some easiest way to relive stress and anxiety.
Regular health check-ups to rule out thyroid and other metabolic disorders
Regular health check-ups are very important for early detection and treatment of various metabolic disorders. These diseases may be hidden factors for weight gain.
Last but not the least, always seek support from family and friends. Pick a partner to exercise or walk with. Surround yourself with loved ones who motivate you and encourage your efforts to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. Make these changes a part of your everyday life. And if you still feel uncomfortable in spite of this effort, do not hesitate to take a professional help.
So those were some effective tips to help you during and after menopause not only in maintaining your body weight but also in losing those extra pounds. Please share your thoughts!
Surbhi is a qualified doctor (B.H.M.S.) with 5 year of teaching and clinical experience. She started her writing journey at the age of 17 and published various articles in famous news paper and magazines. The most incredible experience of her life is being a mommy of two cute dolls. Recently she started her own blog Positive Parenting. She loves to write on crafting, parenting issues and kids activity and wants to share her parenting journey with others.