But sadly, it just isn't that easy.
In fact, you can almost throw out every "diet" plan you've ever tried or heard about because it won't help you lose weight in midlife. In fact, it might do the opposite and cause your body to keep more weight instead.
It's time to understand how to best support your body with nutrition during perimenopause and menopause and get tools to get through it quickly.
Right now, you may be in your late 30s or early 40s and wondering why you're experiencing changes in your body that you never had before. You may be moody, anxious, have irregular periods, or have hot flashes. You probably find weight loss more difficult and notice your waistline expanding no matter what you do. These are all common symptoms of perimenopause. Or, you may be in menopause but still suffering from negative symptoms that frustrate you.
Let's dive in and figure out how to eat for weight loss and determine the foods that will help you sail through perimenopause and menopause.
Sailing through perimenopause was not my story. Perimenopause hit me with crazy hormones and whacked-out emotions and I crashed and burned. I had to pick myself up and figure some stuff out. Over time I learned how to support my body during perimenopause and now menopausal years, and I'm teaching and coaching hundreds of other women how to do that for their mid-life bodies.
It's so interesting that we have loads of books on pregnancy. We even have books on puberty, but we really have not had a lot of breakthrough information regarding perimenopause and menopause, which by the way, is 1/3 of our life! And so I'm happy to bring you cutting-edge science-based information on how you can support your body with nutrients, supplements, and lifestyle.
So today, it's really about nutrition. If you're a Trim Healthy Mama, which you probably are, you are in the right place: doing the right thing. So many of the concepts of Trim Healthy are perfect and beautiful for the mature mama. Some things need to be tweaked and changed.
Perimenopause can start around age 38, and you may feel moody or anxious, have irregular cycles, even hot flashes, or weight gain. These are all common symptoms of perimenopause. Good nutrition is essential during perimenopause. Your body is going through a transition. It is undergoing significant hormonal changes during this time, impacting metabolism and increasing the risk of weight gain. A healthy and balanced diet reduces the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Those diseases are common for women in menopause. And in perimenopause, you need to know how to deter those diseases.
Perimenopause can cause a range of symptoms. I've been through most of them. Hot flashes, mood changes, and sleep disturbances. Giving your body good fuel, whole food, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins can help manage symptoms and improve overall well-being.
Good nutrition is essential for maintaining bone health during perimenopause. As estrogen levels decline, the risk of developing osteoporosis increases. And eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D can help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Focusing on good nutrition can help manage symptoms. It can help you get to a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and get you to feel the best you can.
Certain foods are better for this season because they help balance your hormone levels. We don't balance much in perimenopause because hormones are declining. So instead of saying balance, let's say get your hormones working for you and not against you; you can support them. Certain foods really help with hormone support. It doesn't mean those foods stop perimenopause, but they can reduce your symptoms and sometimes raise hormone levels, but usually not enough. You're probably looking at hormone replacement starting in perimenopause and into menopause to help with protective hormone support.
So let's look at the first group of foods, food rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. Kale, turnips, seaweed, and collards are beneficial for protecting your bones. Cod liver oil, tuna, yogurt, eggs, kefir, and salmon are high in Vitamin D.
It might seem redundant, but vegetables are crucial. Veggies like kale, leafy greens, swiss chard, collard greens, arugula, and Bok Choy are helpful for weight loss and hormone support. Remember the cruciferous vegetables because they are rich in DIM, a powerful antioxidant that supports healthy estrogen metabolism. Foods in the cruciferous family would be Brussel Sprouts, kale, spinach, and asparagus. Breaking down excess estrogen is necessary, especially when the end goal is weight loss.
As your hormones shift in perimenopause, it is vital that your detoxification pathways are open and your body is eliminating excess hormones properly. To help with detoxification, eat foods high in fiber like lentils, black beans, peas, broccoli, raspberries, pears, baobab, glucomannan, psyllium husk powder, flax, chia, hemp seeds, green banana powder, and oatmeal. These foods help with digestive health, weight control, and satiation.
Including whole foods that are high in calcium, vitamin D, and fiber daily for optimal health through perimenopause and menopause is essential. But without healthy amounts of protein, you limit your ability to get your hormones working for you, not against you. You need to anchor every single meal in protein. Ideally, you want 20-30 grams at each meal and about half that for your snack.
Protein reduces hunger and curbs cravings. It helps protect muscle mass so that you lose less as you age and aids in increasing your muscle mass for better fat-burning. Eating enough protein at each meal can be accomplished by layering your high-protein foods. Adding plant and animal proteins bumps the grams without adding more food to your plate. Legumes, peas, beans, and lentils are beautiful foods high in protein and fiber. They help your body fight perimenopausal weight gain, are good for blood sugar balance, and decrease mood swings. They are high in protein and fiber and very helpful in supporting hormonal shifts in perimenopause.
If you are following the Trim Healthy Mama eating plan (the only one I recommend), you want to increase E (Energizing) meals. Energizing meals are helpful in midlife to help stabilize blood sugar and decrease mood swings.
We can't move on without talking about probiotic-rich and cultured foods. Keeping the gut microbiome thriving is vital. You can create a robust gut microbiome by eating cultured foods and vegetables like sauerkraut, beet kvass, kombucha, kefir, and cultured vegetables.
The principles of the Trim Healthy Mama plan support hormone balance, and I love how Trim Healthy helps women in every season of life, but some tweaks need to be made to get you in fat-burning mode fast, even with shifting hormones.
I've learned several critical tweaks over the last several years from Pearl, Serene, and the clients I coach.
I'm calling this the WISEWOMAN strategy.
First, I want you to make sure that you're getting your (E) energizing meals; those are the ones that will support your thyroid and hormones and give you the glucose you need for energy. I suggest planning to have at least 1-3 E meals daily. Make sure to include a little bit of fat, and you're anchoring with a lean protein.
Next, focus on lightening up in the area of fats and protein. Choose fewer red meat products in favor of fish, chicken, turkey, or plant proteins. Choose S (satisfying) meals that are lighter in fat and have less dairy. A light smear of avocado on your E or FP (fuel pull) meals instead of mayo or a smear of hummus instead of dairy. Sheep, goat, and Blue cheese are great lower-fat, gut-friendly options. MCT oil is wonderfully thermogenic and a great option on salads and Olive oil. Nut butter & nuts are good for midlife too.
Lastly, you want to limit alcohol, processed foods, and caffeine, which have been shown to worsen hormonal symptoms.
So, in the end, good nutrition is the answer and essential for alleviating menopause symptoms and supporting overall health. Eating a healthy balanced diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, whole foods, fruits, vegetables, and proteins helps you manage your symptoms, maintain bone health, reduce inflammation, and improve overall well-being so you can rock your midlife and feel the best you can.