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For women, menopause is a reality check that your body is changing. This is a time to take care of yourself by making healthy lifestyle choices.

During menopause your body produces less of the progesterone and oestrogen hormones because your ovaries stop sending eggs to your uterus. One visible effect of this hormone change is a reshuffle of your body’s fat distribution. This results in unwanted abdominal fat that can be harder to budge.

Health Risks Associated with Menopausal Weight Gain

Let's face it: When we gain weight, we don't feel good. It can be uncomfortable and cause low self esteem. But that's not all. Weight gain is related to health issues including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (a condition in which your body cannot use insulin correctly, which can lead to diabetes).

Avoiding a "Midlife Metabolic Crisis"

Plan for your body's natural metabolic slowdown. As with any time in life, there are no quick fixes when it comes to weight loss. There are, however, ways to avoid a midlife crisis when it comes to a slowing metabolism.

Increasing your body composition of lean muscle mass by lifting, pulling, or pushing heavy stuff, (e.g. weightlifting, bodyweight exercises or using resistance bands), is one of the best ways to do this. Muscle gains boost your metabolism and help burn off some of those extra calories.

Eat right. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods such as beans and lentils contain the nutrients you need and should make up the majority of your meals and snacks. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink a day. If you suffer from hot flashes, try cutting back on caffeine and spicy foods, which could trigger hot flashes in some people. Watch your sodium intake and aim to cook most of your meals at home rather than eating out.

Drink plenty of water. Water helps move fibre through your system, keeps you hydrated and may mitigate hot flashes. Remember that fruits and vegetables are loaded with water, and health-boosting nutrients, too.

When menopause has you down, remember it's a temporary state. The healthy diet and exercise habits you put in place during menopause will keep you feeling great after the hot flashes, mood swings and sleepless nights pass.

Healthy choices you can make at menopause include: •

  • eating plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables as well as protein.

  • limiting caffeine

  • engaging in physical activity

  • stopping smoking

  • drinking no more than two standard alcoholic drinks per day

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