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How to nourish your body and embrace transition during menopause.
We need to accept that it’s normal for bodies to change during menopause. There are a lot of changes going on with our hormones and physiology, so it makes sense that we would see a change in our bodies as a result. In a culture obsessed with thinness, it also makes sense that it’s really hard for many of us to just be okay with this change! If that’s the case, know that you are not alone. For many women, one of the most challenging symptoms associated with menopause is weight gain. This occurs because as estrogen levels decrease, we lose muscle mass and our metabolism slows down. Coupled with stress and lack of sleep, as well as natural age-related metabolic decline, it’s no wonder weight gain is so common. Not only does our weight often change, but so does our shape. This is because where the fat shows up on our body is different, often redistributing from the butt and thighs to the midsection.
Just because these changes are normal and natural, it doesn’t mean they are easy to navigate. It’s very common for unresolved body image issues and/or disordered eating to come bubbling up during this period. If you’re struggling, it’s a good idea to seek the support of a therapist and/or dietitian to help with these concerns. But the worst thing you can do is go on a diet and restrict what you eat. Rather than focusing on the number on the scale, try shifting your attention to changing behaviours that will improve your health.
- Eat regular balanced meals and snacks throughout the day, incorporating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, dairy, legumes, and soy, as well as foods that bring you joy and satisfaction.
- Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues to guide your eating.
- Practice mindful eating and enjoy meals with others.
- Incorporate movement that you enjoy on a regular basis, especially weight-bearing exercise.
- Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night.
- Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as meditation or journaling.
- Attend regular medical appointments and screenings.
- Quit smoking and consume alcohol only in moderation.