Are you managing to avoid the weight gain that starts to creep up on you in midlife? In your 40’s and 50’s what you eat becomes even more important if you want to remain healthy and slim. With a few simple dietary changes remaining slim and healthy is entirely doable. I’m a petite 5 feet 2″ 54 year old woman and I am living proof that its possible to maintain a normal weight and to still eat well in your 50s. Now remember, we’re talking healthy weights here – not skinny, unrealistic, difficult to maintain weights. You can and should be able to reach and maintain a weight in the healthy weight range for your height and bone structure.
Even women who’ve never had a weight problem before can find themselves suddenly putting on an extra 15-30 pounds in their 40’s and 50’s. That weight gain is often accompanied by higher blood pressure, high blood glucose levels, pre-diabetes and other inflammatory conditions. It can come as quite a shock to women who are used to eating anything they want to find themselves with weight and health problems.
There’s no denying that there are certain biological changes that begin to take place in our bodies as we get older that make it harder to remain slim into our 40’s however, these factors can be countered through adopting a healthier diet. Women, in particular become much more carb sensitive as they enter their 40’s. Lowered estrogen and progesterone levels combined with increased insulin resistance means a tendency to gain weight – particularly around the belly, the so called “menopot”. Having more fat on your body exacerbates the problem and makes you even more insulin resistant and likely to gain weight.
If you’re a woman in your 40’s who wants to fight weight gain and be slim and healthy then here are 10 things you need to start doing:
- The most important action you can take is to give up the “carbage” in your diet which means all foods that are high in carbs and sugar! That includes pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, pizza, most fruits and and sugar in any form (agave, honey, and even xylitol which, btw has 2/3 of the carbs and calories that sugar does!). Just get these foods out of your life and off your plate! There is very little nutrition in these carby foods and nothing that you can’t find in other much healthier foods. Find healthy substitutes for high carb foods and stick to them. For the occasional baked and/or sweet treat replace wheat flour with blanched almond flour and sugar with powdered erythritol and stevia (both almost zero carb sweeteners). Make riced cauliflower instead of rice and use zucchini noodles “zoodles” and spaghetti squash and other veggies as a base for sauces instead of pasta. If you don’t want to completely give up bread, there are some great low carb bread substitutes that you can make without grains. My low carb cookbook Vol 1 contains some awesome low carb breads.
- Learn to love your veggies! See my low carb veggie list. Make sure your plate is always 3/4 full of veggies. Serve veggies raw or cooked any number of creative ways – sauteed in your favorite healthy fat, steamed and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or pastured butter and seasoned with salt & pepper or roasted (my favorite way) in butter, olive oil or coconut oil and spices. The sky is the limit with what you can do with veggies so learn to embrace them. Yes it can take a little time to get used to eating more low carb veggies however, gradually, over time crowding out your meals with vegetables is one of the most important determiners of good health in midlife. Once you get into the habit you’ll find it filling and you will reap the benefts of being healthier and staying slim!
- Stop snacking between meals and eating when you are not hungry. Tune into your body. If you are hungry and its a few hours until dinner, then choose a small low-carb, high fat snack such as an ounce of cheese, a cup of coffee with heavy cream, or a 1/4 cup of berries mixed 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt . Did you know that coffee, and to a lesser extent tea, is a great appetite suppressant. Avoid all processed food and snacks and high sugar fruit which can trigger a blood sugar crash.
- Give up all highly processed foods and inflammatory seed oils and fats. A useful guideline is to remove anything that comes in a box or wrapper from your diet. Immediately remove the following oils and fats, including any pre-packaged foods that contain these fats (salad dressings, mayonnaise etc) from your diet forever. The rest of your family will benefit too: canola, grape-seed, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soy bean oils and any butter-like spreads containing these oils or containing trans-fats. Toss them all for your and your family’s health! Replace your regular neutral cooking oil (canola, safflower etc) with avocado oil. Any time you saute food use avocado oil – it’s now in most supermarkets and also available online so there are no excuses to use inflammatory, processed seed oils such as canola, grape-seed and safflower oil for cooking. You should know that extra-virgin olive oil has a lower heating point so save it for your salads and occasional roasting rather than sauteing.
- Eat smaller servings of everything except vegetables. Don’t load up your plate and go back for seconds. If you want seconds, fill up your plate with salad and veggies and you’ll do minimal damage. Remember: as we get older we need far fewer calories and carbs to maintain our weight. Choose small servings of protein. Most people eat too many carbs as well as too much protein. Most people who start eating low carb think that low carb means high protein. It does not! Low carb or LCHF means a veggie-centric diet with moderate servings of healthy oils such as olive oil, avocado oil, pastured butter and naturally processed coconut oil and a small serving of protein. How much protein should you be aiming for? See my comprehensive guide to protein. For dinner choose 4-6 oz (raw weight) of red meat, 6-8 oz (raw weight) for chicken, pork, wild salmon or tuna) and 8 oz white fish such as cod.
- Learn to love wild fish and discover different ways of cooking it. At our place we eat wild fish such as wild cod which is found much more frequently in super markets these days, twice a week. Fish and seafood, naturally sourced are among the healthiest foods on our planet.
- Walk every single day – its great for countering peri-menopausal moodiness and depression and it keeps your metabolism humming. Aim for at least 30 minutes continuous walking every single day. You don’t have to do all you walking at once. You can walk for 15 minutes in the morning and perhaps 15 minutes in your lunch hour. Make it a habit like brushing your teeth,
- You don’t need 3 big square meals a day. In your 40’s and 50’s you need far fewer calories to maintain your weight than someone in their teens or twenties. Consciously make your serving sizes smaller. Become very aware of what you put on your plate. At restaurants choose an appetizer or a half portion rather than a large main. Get into the habit of having free-range eggs for breakfast. You will find that free-range eggs taste superior in flavor to caged eggs and keep you full and satisfied for up to 4-6 hours. Keep breakfast carb free and around 300-500 calories and then make lunch a small snack such as 1-2 oz of nuts or cheese or a scoop of tuna salad over a few cups of mixed salad greens. Once you remove excess carbs and calories from your diet, your blood glucose levels will remain steady throughout the day with no large dips and you will find that you are no longer ravenously hungry every few hours.
- If you drink alcohol avoid high sugar/high carb cocktails and regular beer. Choose 1 glass of wine ( a 5 oz pour) or a 12 oz low carb beer, or a shot of spirits with no-calorie tonic with dinner.
- Get your reproductive hormones in balance and if your gynecologist thinks you are a suitable candidate, then start taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Having balanced hormones, and this includes balanced thyroid hormones, can make a huge difference in how you feel emotionally, mentally and physically and how easily you will be able to maintain your weight or lose weight if you need to.
Check out my awesome tips and recipes at www.lchfnation.com and start taking steps today to reverse that midlife weight gain!
As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, my focus is helping women who are peri-menopausal or going through menopause and are struggling to lose weight. Through doing so, I help them get back their self-esteem and feel better about themselves. If you’d like a free consultation with me so we can discuss your health and weight concerns, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or pop the following free product for a free phone health consult with me in your shopping cart and I’ll be in touch to schedule your free session!