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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How can i lose the weight ive gained since becoming menopausal?

    I’ve been struggling to lose weight since hitting menopause. I find that the hormones are making me crave more indulgent foods and each year I seem to get bigger. What are the best tips for me to loose my weight and keep it off for good!
  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • 7

    Thanks

    Michelle Rogers

    Personal Trainer

    Integritywellbeing. The constant pursuit in my life, practice and methodology. One, balances the other. The accumulation of: -2 years Lecturing at the University of Technology … View Profile

    This is one of the biggest struggles for women and I understand your frustration.  Immediately I would  encourage you to do resistance training or weight bearing exercises to increase your lean muscle mass, bone density and help to stabilize your endocrine system.  Avoid, avoid, avoid sugar and foods that adversely affect your insulin levels like white flower, white rice, mashed potatoes look for low GI foods.  A great source of information can be found in ‘The Wisdom of Menopause’ or ‘Beyond Menopause’ by Christiane Northrup. 

  • Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Hi Featherfinder,

    In regards to taking coconut oil, as a tertiary trained Nutritionist and student dietitian I would be wary about taking it, especially if you have a family history of cardiovascular disease. Even though coconut oil doesn't contain cholesterol, it does contain a very high amount of saturated fat. Many epidemiological studies have shown that saturated fat actually increases your risk of heart disease and increases your cholesterol as well. When choosing foods its best to g by the Australian Dietary Guidelines incorporating the Australia Guide to Healthy Eating :)

    For more information on coconut oil check out the “hot topics” section on the  DAA website. It has plenty of information for you about certain nutritional issues and claims…http://daa.asn.au/for-the-media/hot-topics-in-nutrition/coconut-oil/

    Alternatively you may want to consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) or myself, which can provide you with expert advice and guideance in nutrition.

  • Christine

    HealthShare Member

    Thanks to everyone for replies to the great coconut oil debate.  After a week of taking it I've stopped as it was making me feel ill.  So listening to my body worked well and its not for me.  But I have been using it as a replacement for butter in baking.  

  • 2

    Thanks

    Jean Hailes for Women’s Health is a leader in women’s health, supported by funding from the Australian Government. We provide trusted and easy-to-understand information to … View Profile

    We have a few simple, practical tips on taking control of what, when and how you eat on our 'managing menopause' website:

    • Keep simple, healthy snacks close by – fresh fruit, nuts, low-fat yoghurt.
    • If you buy food out, take more control  – check what the food contains; ask for less sauce, less cream, less spread, less cheese or oil, etc.
    • Remember that you don't have to eat everything on your plate.
    • Reduce portion sizes. Most food servings are bigger than they need to be.
    • Eat slowly and stop when you start to feel satisfied – not full
    • Try not to eat on the run or in front of your computer or TV screen. You'll be distracted and won't notice your body's signals that you've had enough.
    • Have an afternoon snack so you don't arrive home starved at the end of the day and eat the first thing you can find.
    • Don't mistake thirst for hunger. Have a glass of water first and if you're still hungry, eat.
    • Any physical activity during the day is important. It keeps your metabolism working so you burn energy and fat.
    • Don't be afraid or ashamed to eat things you like… in moderation. An anxious relationship with food won't help, and the more you think about avoiding something, the more you'll want it.

  • 4

    Thanks

    Dr Richard Wong

    Personal Trainer

    Qualified with a B: Human Movement Science and Certificate. I grew up with sport. I competed succesfully at a state and national level as a … View Profile

    A holisitc approach will work fantasically involving a strutured weight training program and cardio exercise, including low to moderate and hard cardio. However, more importantly you must be eating the right foods at the right time throughout the day and around your training. You must be looking at your diet, looking to be eating every 3 hours of a combination of protein, carbohydrate and fat. eat most of your carbs throughout morning to lunch, lean them off during afternoon being about 10-15g and dinner just having green vegetables, eat protein at every meal from lean sources. eating eggs or smoked salmon with breakfast will help. Use a personal trainer for you struture weight training program. you will only need at least 2 full body weight training session per week. have a prtein shake after weight training. focus on low to moderate cardio exercise of at least 40mins. eat 2 hours prior to any exercise. be consistant and dont give in to those sugar cravings. the longer you go without sugar the easier it is.

  • 5

    Thanks

    Chris Fonda

    Dietitian, Nutritionist, Sports Dietitian

    As an Accredited Sports Dietitian, APD and athlete (springboard diver), Chris has both professional and personal experience in sport at the sub-elite and elite level.Chris … View Profile

    Unfortunately as women go through menopause their oestrogen levels decline and this changes the distribution of body fat from around the bum, hips and thighs to more central abdominal fat.

    Central abdominal fat (in particular visceral fat - fat around the organs) becomes a problem not only for post-menopausal women but also men as this increases your risk of developing metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The GOOD news is that you can avoid all these conditions with a healthy diet.

    To avoid weight gain during menopause try to stick to the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating guidelines for women aged 51-70 years, they are:

    • 4 serves of grain (cereal) foods (preferably wholegrain) such as bread, rice, pasta, noodles, barley, quinoa
    • 2 serves of fruit
    • 5 serves of vegetables
    • 2 serves of lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, legumes and beans
    • 4 serves of dairy (low fat options)
    Menopause also represents a time in a womans life where the drop in oestrogen production can lead to bone health problems such as osteoporosis. This is the reason for the increase in dairy. Regular physical exercise incorporating resistance training can also benefit bone health.

    You may want to seek hormone replacement therapy (HRT) from your local doctor to help alleviate the symptoms associated with menopause. Current research has found HRT to be safe in those who have no prior history (e.g. family) to breast cancer, but always consult your doctor just to be safe.

    I hope this helps, for more expert dietary advice, have a chat to an Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD) who can help you to manage your weight through menopause. You can find one at www.daa.asn.au  

  • 4

    Thanks

    Ashleigh Jones

    Dietitian, Nutritionist

    With my menopausal clients I really try to emphasise the difference between hunger and craving.  Have a good look at what's going on around you when you reach for the sweet stuff - bored at work, tired, stressed, winding down at night?  Sometimes snacking is a symptom of another problem, which you need to address to get back in control of your dietary intake.  

    I would recommend keeping a very, very honest food diary for a few days and try and figure out where the problem times are.  Once you've done that, you can start figuring out how to address this problem.  Maybe you need to plan for a better mid afternoon snack, or maybe you need to change your night time routine.  

    My general advice is that if you want to eat something very specific (e.g. chocolate, chips, lollies) then you are probably experiencing a craving.  So try and do something to distract yourself and ride it out.  If you feel that you could eating absolutely anything (even a big garden salad!) then it's probably hunger, so have a snack.  A good tip for getting through cravings is to have a hot drink like a tea or diet hot chocolate as it will occupy your mouth and make you wait before eating something that might be unnecessary.

    With regards to the coconut oil, I'll concede that the health effects are still an area of some contention, but the bigger, immediate concern is the amount of energy it's contributing to your diet.  Two tablespoons contains around 320 calories, which is a similar amount of energy to that contained in a Lean Cuisine!  Those two tablespoons of oil are essentially contributing one meal's worth of calories, which is doing you no favours in achieving weight loss.  If you do want to incorporate it in your diet then consider reducing your portion size to two teaspoons, which will still provide the fatty acids you are looking to include but in a much more reasonable quantity.

  • 5

    Thanks

    Arlene is a registered practising dietitian, with a private practice in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney, and has built a strong business over the last … View Profile

    Menopause occurs when a woman stops ovulating and her monthly period (menstruation) ceases. Menopause actually means the last menstrual period. The average age of the natural menopause is 51 years, but can occur much earlier or later. Menopause that occurs before the age of 45 is called early menopause and before the age of 40 is premature menopause.
    At this time, most women (around 2/3 of women) experience weight gain or difficulty maintaining their usual weight. Most women will gain about 5-7 kilos during their menopausal years. You also discover that the weight gain tends to accumulate around the abdomen, rather than the hips and thighs as before menopause. People commonly refer to this as an “apple” shape, because the stomach area becomes rounder. An extra kilo before menopause will settle evenly over hips, bottom, thighs, and arms. After menopause, it all goes round the middle! Most of this weight will come on gradually – generally about a ½ kilo a year.
    As you enter the early stages of menopause, maintaining weight becomes more and more difficult, and losing weight becomes almost impossible. This is because of the fluctuation in your hormones. Your body’s hormones have a direct impact on your appetite, metabolism, and fat storage. At this stage, women can develop “insulin resistance” making their bodies store fat, rather than burn calories. This “insulin resistance” changes how our bodies handle the foods we eat. For example, if you ate 1,000 calories before menopause, you would burn 700 of them and store around 300. After menopause, your body will store 700 and burn only 300! This is a big difference, and the result is weight gain! Even a modest weight gain can result in a change of dress size.
    Excessive weight gain could also be a sign that something is wrong with your hormone levels, blood sugars, or eating habits. Visit your doctor if your weight gain is out of control. Excessive fat stored around the abdomen can lead to an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, breast cancer, and high cholesterol.
    Here are a few tips to help you:
    Reduce calories. Menopausal women need fewer calories to maintain former body weight. It may be necessary to cut calorie intake by 10 to 15 percent while at the same time increasing level of activity or exercise. If women don't reduce their calorie intake, they are over eating. Calories needs are the highest during the mid-20s. The daily calorie needs, as women age, then reduce at about 2% to 4% for every 10 years added.

    Eat a balanced diet. Avoid refined sugars and indulge in fruits and vegetables. Choose foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Fat intake should be less than 30 percent of daily calorie intake. Women of all ages should consume 20 to 30 grams of fibre daily.

    Portion Control. Eat slowly and practice portion control - this does not mean you have to eliminate your favourite foods. Just eat smaller quantities.

    Avoid crash or fad diets. Starvation will only cause your metabolism to slow down, causing you to gain more weight later on. Fad diets simply don’t work — over 95% of dieters gain back the weight they lose and more.

    Maintain adequate intake of water: So many of the bodily functions rely on the body being adequately hydrated. Drinking 6 to 8 glasses daily is ideal. New studies say that you can drink tea and coffee as part of your daily water requirements. A couple of cups a day are fine as part of your water intake. We are talking about black coffee, not coffee house drinks.

    Don’t lose large amounts of weight. There is a balance between being too thin and just right. Being very thin can lead to an increased chance of developing osteoporosis.

    Increase your physical activity. Exercise becomes particularly important as a woman ages. Regular exercise benefits the heart and bones, helps regulate weight, and can be a mood enhancer, creating a better sense of well-being. Women who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

    Weight loss still requires that you burn more calories each day than you take in. Do aerobics to increase your metabolism and burn fat. Do weight bearing activities such as walking and cycling to increase muscle mass and ward off osteoporosis. When women diet to lose weight after menopause, they will not be able to continue to lose weight unless exercise is added to the daily routine. Exercise prevents the decrease in metabolism that occurs when women diet without exercising. But, you must exercise consistently, preferably daily. Start with 5 minutes of walking each day and work to gradually increase the duration of whatever exercise you are walking doing. Work to increase your exercise time to 60 minutes daily.

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