It seems to be a big struggle to stay at a healthy weight in perimenopause. What we were doing in the past doesn’t work anymore and weight creeps up.
In my own practice I have to say the most frequent concerns women come to me with are “I need to lose weight” and “I want to learn to eat healthier”. The weight is usually a result of a woman entering perimenopause and realizing that as hormone levels make a major shift, lifestyle habits must shift too.
Some of my clients have realized what the issue is. They were able to maintain a healthy weight while enjoying a treat or two each day. Now their perimenopausal body isn’t able to balance body systems as efficiently.
Weight gain in addition to new health issues, such as high cholesterol or elevated blood sugar, pop up seemingly overnight. These women can identify the unhealthy food but struggle with building healthier habits to put into practice on a daily basis.
Tips for healthy weight
- Eat enough protein – Protein is so important for repairing and strengthening muscles, keeping bones strong, and boosting your immune system. Protein needs increase when 2 things are occurring: perimenopause and getting older.
- Identify empty calorie foods – Perimenopause and menopause are the time to hone in on nutrient-dense foods. Plan for vegetables, whole grains, a little fruit, and quality protein foods first. Occasionally small portions of treats like cookies, cake, and pumpkin spice lattes can fit in. These empty calorie choices need to show up less often if our goal is to maintain a healthy weight and overall health.
- Watch alcohol intake – Reaching for a glass of wine to wind down at the end of a stressful day may not be the best idea. If you are concerned about hot flashes and poor sleep, alcohol is not going to be your friend. That nightly habit of a big glass of red wine (or other cocktails) won’t get you to your healthy weight either. If you don’t want to say goodbye forever, a better idea might be to drink a small glass less often during the week. You might want to give one of the new non-alcoholic spirits a try!
- Increase and maintain muscle mass – Use strength training to hold on to calorie-burning muscles. Some of that weight gain is coming from perimenopause but we also gain weight (starting at about 35!) due to just getting older. As we lose a little muscle mass we gain fat tissue. This shift means a decrease in our metabolic rate and a decrease in calories used by our body.
- Watch portion sizes – You may be eating healthier but check in with your quantities. Do you know about how many calories you really need? Nobody wants to calculate caloric intake every day but you should have an idea of the portion sizes that make you feel nourished but not stuffed and overwhelmed.
- Keep moving – Bump up your activity level. Staying active can help keep your body as well as your brain in top shape. Exercise like yoga may even help with joint pain – a common symptom in perimenopause. Being active can help you use some of the food you eat for energy instead of storing it on your body. Choose your favorite way to move to help stay at your healthy weight.
Try out this nutrient-dense meal plan to help keep you at your healthy weight in perimenopause and beyond.
If you are looking for more meal planning ideas for perimenopause try this fiber-packed plan or this protein forward plan.
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