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.

Menopause Diet Tips To Help Manage Symptoms

Natural oestrogens

Some researchers believe that natural oestrogens found in many plant foods, particularly beans and pulses, could protect against osteoporosis, heart disease and breast cancer.

Certainly, the incidence of these diseases is much lower in Japan where oestrogen-containing soya bean products, such as tofu, are an essential part of the diet.


Calcium is necessary to ensure bones develop properly and remain strong, so a healthy diet with adequate calcium is essential to good health. Periods of growth obviously increase the relative demands for calcium, so teenagers and pregnant women need greater amounts. Dairy foods, such as milk, cheese and yoghurt, are the best sources of calcium, which is readily absorbed into the blood­ stream. Unfortunately, the current fashion for dieting has meant that many women cut out dairy products as they also contain high levels of fat. The answer is to continue eating dairy products but switch to low fat alternatives – skimmed milk actually contains slightly more calcium than full cream milk. Sardines are also excellent as they contain very fine bones, full of calcium, which are softened during the canning process.

Vitamin D

Dietary intake of vitamin D has declined over the years and may be linked to increasing fracture rates as this vitamin is necessary to aid calcium absorption. Fatty fish, such as halibut and mackerel, are rich sources of vitamin D; studies suggest that two meals of fatty fish a week can reduce the fracture risk by up to 20 per cent.

Supplementing your diet

Calcium supplements are a useful addition to a poor diet, particularly in early life when bones are developing. There is limited evidence that supplements in later life reduce the risk of fractures. However, many women taking calcium supplements also actively prevent osteoporosis by other means so the true effect of calcium alone remains unclear.

Vitamin D is also available as supplements. Do not overdo it – it is unwise to take more than 2,000 mg of calcium or 500 international units of vitamin D each day, as too much can increase the risk of kidney stones. Be particularly careful if your fluid intake is low, or you are confined to bed for any reason. If in doubt, speak to your doctor.

Cut down on alcohol

It is sensible to cut down on alcohol as heavy drinking increases the risk of osteoporosis and heart disease in addition to its effects on general health. The density of hip bone is reduced by up to 12 per cent in women in their late 40s who have more than two alcoholic drinks daily, so try to keep within the current recommended limits of 14 units a week for women, 21 for men. One unit is equivalent to a glass of wine, a single measure of spirits, or half a pint of beer.

Stop smoking

Smoking increases the risk of heart disease, fractures and cancers. Women who smoke have an earlier menopause by one or two years than non-smokers.

Facts about Midlife Metabolism

“You are what you eat” is never more true than at midlife when your metabolism slows down. At this age for many women, a period of dietary indiscretion or eating unwisely while on a vacation or during a time of stress can play havoc emotionally and physically. In other words, your midlife metabolism does not permit much fooling your­self with food.

“You are what you eat” is never more true than at midlife when your metabolism slows down. At this age for many women, a period of dietary indiscretion or eating unwisely while on a vacation or during a time of stress can play havoc emotionally and physically. In other words, your midlife metabolism does not permit much fooling your­self with food.

Beginning in your mid-thirties, and compounded by menopause, which usually begins in your early fifties, your food intake needs to be scaled back to accommodate your slower metabolism. Nature has rigged our basal metabolic rate (BMR) to slow down after the age of twenty-five, sliding between one-half and one percent per year. It happens gradually, so that it may be some time before you realize that you can’t eat the way you once did. If you continue to consume the same amounts and kinds of food that you have in the past, you will have difficulty keeping your figure.

This is the age when even those women who have not had to do so previously may begin each day with a new ritual: praying to the bathroom scale. They get on the scale gently to keep the pointer from going up too quickly or jiggling too much. Finally, they look at the dial on the scale knowing well that whatever the scale reveals will dictate their level of self-satisfaction for the day. “I’ve lost weight” equals “I like me.”

“Therefore, today I’ll dress nicely and I’ll look terrific. I’ll eat less and exercise more, and everything will go well with me today!”

Conversely, “I’ve gained weight” means “I’ve been bad.” A woman berates herself: “I’m so disgusted with me. No matter what I do, I can’t lose weight. I might as well eat whatever I like because I won’t look good today anyway.” Or it may mean, “I’ll try harder today to diet and exercise, but I’m still unhappy with myself.”

These feelings can influence the quality of a woman’s interpersonal contacts that day as well as her dietary behavior. They may even influence her interest in sex. Although the problems of being over­weight and having a poor diet affect high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, and a host of other diseases and conditions, we also know that for many women diet is an important social and emotional issue.