Beliefnet
The Queen of My Self

By Kathy R. Byrnes

This is a time when women need to realize that their bodies are changing and that eating well and being physically active may make the midlife transition easier

My, how quickly the years go by! Menopause seemed like it was always so far off in my future … but here I am! I contacted one of our state Extension specialists, Dr. Ingrid Adams, to give me some information and tips to share about this stage of life.

Menopause or “change of life” is a normal part of life. It signals the end of a woman’s reproductive ability. Many avoid talking about this topic because it is associated with things such as hot flashes, irritability or mood swings, sleepless nights, and the “mid-life crisis” as it is called by some. This is a time when women need to realize that their bodies are changing and that eating well and being physically active may make the midlife transition easier.

As women age, hormone levels decrease and this can lead to a slower metabolism, a loss of lean muscle, and the accompanying weight gain, especially around the belly or abdominal area. As some individuals age they tend to be less active while eating the same or larger portions of food. This causes much of this weight gain.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics provides helpful suggestions for women during this critical period of change to avoid the “mid-life crisis”:

  • Eat Right: Foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods contain the nutrients you need without too many calories. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day.
  • Avoid oversized portions: Try using a smaller plate, bowl and glass. Cook more often at home where you are in control of what’s in your food.
  • When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options. Choose dishes that include vegetables, fruits and whole grains.
  • Be physically active: Adults should do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Exercise doesn’t have to mean a trip to the gym. You can be active doing daily activities. Take the stairs; park further away from your destination and walk; garden; or dance. Do activities you love such as dancing, walking, hiking or riding a bike.
  • Enjoy life. Begin doing things that are fun and meaningful to you. This helps to relieve stress and help you realize that you are important and should be treasured and cared for.

BENEFICIAL FOODS

The following healthy, whole foods are especially beneficial for women who are in menopause of just entering the menopause stage:

  • Bananas: Bananas (along with apricots, avocados and sweet potatoes) are high in potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure.
  • Blueberries: This fruit is full of stress-snuffing antioxidants and vitamin C. Plus, blueberries are high in fiber and low in calories.
  • Dark, leafy greens: These vegetables are rich in calcium and vitamin K, which help support bone health. Women over 50 should aim for 1,200 mg of calcium daily.
  • Salmon: Omega-3-rich foods like salmon raise good cholesterol. Oily fish are also good sources of vitamin D, which aids calcium absorption. You need 600 IU of vitamin D a day – a 3 ounce serving of canned salmon supplies about 465 IU.
  • Soy: Some studies suggest that foods with isoflavens – such as soy milk, tofu and edamame – may have estrogen-like properties in the body, which could help offset the effects of dropping estrogen levels. (Note: If you have a family history of breast cancer or other issues with soy, consult a doctor before adding soy to your diet.)
  • Whole-grain bread and oatmeal: Studies show that soluble fiber may help your body remove cholesterol. The requirement for fiber decreases at age 50 so aim for about 21 to 30 grams of total fiber per day.
  • Water: Water helps move fiber through your system, keeps you hydrated and may mitigate hot flashes. Drink plenty of it!
  • Yogurt: Yogurt is calcium-rich and contains probiotics that may aid digestion. Choose fat-free or low-fat, low-sugar varieties with vitamin D added.

 

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

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