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Don't Make Menopause an Excuse for Being Fat

As women approach menopause, weight gain is one issue that becomes a primary concern for many. If you've had a weight problem before, you may find it harder to lose the additional weight. If you've been able to maintain your weight over the years, you many now find you have to work much harder to keep the pounds off. Therefore, menopause and nutrition go hand in hand, so don't make menopause an excuse for being overweight.

While there are some experts who claim that the fluctuation in a woman’s hormone level is the cause for weight gain, others believe it is due to an increase in age and the decrease in muscle mass and metabolism. Who can really say? The key to keeping the weight off, in any stage of a woman’s life, is through a combination of diet and exercise; and should commence during the perimenopausal stage.

It is important to consume foods low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and it is also recommended that the fat intake should be less than 30 percent of your daily calorie intake. Eat fruits, vegetables, and whole grain cereal products, especially those high in vitamin C and beta carotene. Persons of all ages should consume 20 to 30 grams of fiber daily. Avoid foods and drinks with processed sugar, as many of these products contain empty calories and promote weight gain. Avoid salt-cured foods, which would eliminate pork from your diet. That means giving up ham, bacon, hot dogs, etc. These foods are high in sodium, which can lead to high blood pressure, which is a serious risk for aging women. White bread is also another no-no as it contains starch, which provides no nutritional value.

Regular exercise not only benefits the heart and bones and helps regulate weight, but can elevate one’s mood and create a sense of balance within. Conversely, women who are physically inactive are more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis.

While dieting and good nutrition habits are important when we are young, it has become a vital component of good health when we reach menopause. Although it may seem the cycle never ends, maintaining a proper diet is necessary to enjoy this particular time in your life. If you have never had the desire to exercise before, now would be a good time to begin. If you incorporate a healthy diet and exercise into your daily life, there should never be a reason to blame menopause as an excuse for being fat.


Beverly Mahone is the author of "Whatever! A Baby Boomer's Journey Into Middle Age." She recently appeared as a baby boomer expert on MSNBC-TV.

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