When Those Extra Pounds Start to Add up

If your metabolism is slowing, it’s time to subtract a few bad eating habits.

Menopause brings a lot of new/first-time issues to the forefront.

Take weight gain.

If you notice you’re packing more pounds than normal, it may be more than just pandemic pounds. It could be menopause, too, as in aging + menopause = a slower-than-ever metabolism.

Sadly, your inner furnace isn’t burning calories as efficiently as it used to. What’s more, researchers say that your body composition changes during menopause, which adds up less muscle and more fat. And since muscle burns more fat than fat tissue does… voila: multiplying pounds. 🧮

The Math Gets a Little More Complicated (Doesn’t It Always?)

Another important part of the equation: Hormonal fluctuations and the triple whammy of anxiety, mood swings and sleeplessness. All those emotions flying around! Guess what they lead to? Overeating — bingo! — usually in the form of carbs.

Stay with us here as we explain why: Some experts say that estrogen is linked to serotonin production. Serotonin is the hormone that makes you feel good and cheery. If you have less estrogen, you have less serotonin.

And since serotonin’s release is controlled by food intake (particularly carbohydrates), you “learn” to reach for carb-laden foods (think: potato chips, pastries) to get that feel-good serotonin flowing again. #Pavolovsdog 🐶

Those extra pounds are bad for your health, especially as you age. Being overweight increases the risk for many things, among them heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, breathing and joint problems.

Time to Get Smart

After all those math puns, you’ll be glad to hear that we’ve done your homework for you — at least when it comes to fighting back. Here’s your assignment this week:

Fill up on healthy foods. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean and healthy proteins (like poultry, fish, nuts and legumes) all contain essential nutrients without too many calories.

Realize that calories do matter. Sad but true: If you eat the way you’ve always eaten, you’ll likely gain weight now. Mayo Clinic experts say women in their 50s require about 200 fewer calories a day than women in their 30s or 40s.

Remember those tried-and-true rules of weight control. Watch your portions. Limit alcohol consumption. Use smaller plates and bowls (which can “trick” your brain into thinking you’re eating more food than you really are). Track what you eat.

Move your body more. It’s good for your metabolism, your mood, your mojo, your you-name-it.

Get enough calcium. It’s more important now more than ever since your bones need all the strength they can get. (Menopause increases your odds of osteoporosis.) Aim for 1,200 milligrams each day. Getting calcium via food is best, but if you can’t reach that goal, add a supplement. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, fish with bones (like sardines or canned salmon), broccoli and legumes.  

Watch your salt intake. Since the risk of high blood pressure also climbs with age and menopause, be wary of foods that are high in salt. Most salt consumption doesn’t come from the salt shaker you use at the table. The top six sodium sources in our diets? Breads and rolls,  pizza, cold cuts and cured meats, soups and burritos and tacos. (And sorry, sea salt or kosher salt are no better for you than regular old table salt.)

Eat (healthy) fats. Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids, found in things like fatty fish, flax, chia and flax seeds, can decrease the frequency of hot flashes and the severity of night sweats.

Do we think we can do all these strategies all at once — and all the time? Of course not. But we do know that by taking small steps that work for us in our busy lives, we can erase the weight that often comes with menopause.

We also know we can do it together, so join us and let us know how it’s going with you!

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For a Pause

  1. Try impressing your friends with this little-known fact the next time you’re at a (socially-distanced) party (a.k.a. Zoom call): Sodium hides not only in foods but in some over-the-counter and prescription drugs too.

  2. If despite all best efforts, you’re struggling to figure out just how to plan a guilt-free meal, Cooking Light has some great suggestions to share. Their white bean and vegetable bowls with frizzled eggs has our attention.

  3. How do I deal with crazy cravings? Funny you should ask. If drinking water doesn’t help, here are 10 more suggestions to try.

  4. If you’re ready to hit the kitchen and need some inspiration, take a look at these… and gear up for some culinary perfection.

One More Thing

Remember when “fat free” was going to be the answer to everything? #goodtimes

Until next week, stay well. Stay healthy. Stay safe.

See you next time!


The moon stood still
On Blueberry Hill
And lingered until
My dream came true

Blueberry Hill, Fats Domino

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