Facts about Food and Lifestyles

Eating is social; it’s pleasurable; it’s soothing. All cultures use food to celebrate the special occasions of life. Food, in our society, is less synonymous with our body’s survival than it is with the concepts of celebration and reward.

At midlife, you should be seeking a balanced life and beginning a lifestyle that will enhance and ensure your good health. You are looking forward to living longer and living better. Therefore, it becomes necessary to create a balance between overindulgence in food and quasistarvation, and to create within this balance room for the celebrations of life. It is time to replace both the Rubenesque image of the too well-rounded female of the seventeenth century and Tom Wolfe’s image of the “social x-rays” of the late twentieth cen­tury. In order to foster long-term health, a dietstyle has to be practical and useful.

The Menopause Dietstyle means the end of yo-yo dieting, in which you can’t win for losing. With each upswing of the diet yo-yo your body becomes comprised of more fat and less muscle. It is a metabolic fact, proven time and time again. Here’s how your metabo­lism sabotages you. Let’s say you go on a strict diet and you lose twenty pounds quickly. Of the twenty pounds you’ve lost, fifteen pounds were fat and five were muscle. Once off the highly restrictive diet, you regain the weight, faster than the last time because your body has slowed down its metabolism in order to make the most of the very few calories you have been allowing it. It cannot handle the sudden in­crease in postdiet calories. Now that twenty pounds regained is com­prised of about eighteen pounds of fat and two pounds of muscle. Each time you yo-yo you become fatter. It’s a no-win, or perhaps we should say, a no-lose weight situation.

To make matters worse, medical research has demonstrated that as a woman ages, her percentage of body fat goes up and the percentage of lean body mass or muscle tends to go down. Women often decline in size following menopause. It is lean body mass or muscle mass that is shrinking. As much as 10 percent to 20 percent can be lost through the aging process alone. This percentage increases substantially for the longtime yo-yo dieter. Statistics show that a decrease in size plus a decrease in exercise requires a substantial decrease in the number of calories you eat as you get older, if you want to keep from gaining weight. You must exercise to keep and build lean muscle mass and to fight the body’s natural desire to store fat.