Updated: Apr 1
When I first started out in the fitness industry there were so many different diets to think about that it used to make my head spin. Some people were adamant they weren’t going to touch carbs, others hated fats and then there were the people who lived off nothing but liquid shakes. One thing I did notice, time and time again, was that no one group seemed that happy with their diets and people often failed when they tried to cut out entire food groups.
Thankfully, when it comes to powering through your midlife as a woman, the evidence is very much there to show that there is one way of eating that far outweighs all others and that is the following the Mediterranean diet. Not only are people who eat in this way renowned for living longer than anywhere else in the world but, even better news, is that no food is completely restricted on this diet!
Researchers have also found that the Mediterranean diet can contribute to higher muscle mass and bone density for women post menopause, when they are at much higher risk from osteoporosis. Plus, it helps control obesity, reduces the risks of heart disease and has even been thought to lessen the chances of getting cancer.
So, what does the Mediterranean diet look like and how can you incorporate it into your life? The diet champions high doses of fruits, vegetables, grains, potatoes, legumes, nuts, seeds and olive oil; moderate consumption of fish, and low intake of fat, dairy and red meat.
HERE ARE MY TOP 5 TIPS:
1. EAT HEALTHY FATS Make sure to include plenty of healthy fats in your diet such as nuts, seeds, tahini, oily fish and extra virgin olive oil. People on low fat or no fat diets, at this stage of life are known to suffer dry skin, lifeless hair, fatigue, depression, joint pain and may struggle to lose weight.
2. MORE FRUIT AND VEGETABLES Fruits and vegetables are packed with the vitamins and minerals, fibre and antioxidants you need to help improve your health. For this reason, guidelines recommend filling HALF your plate with fruits and vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale may be particularly effective in reducing menopause symptoms.
3. REDUCE MEAT INTAKE If are suffering from hot flushes, you should notice an immediate an effect pretty quickly if you reduce your meat, particularly red meat. While meat has some benefits, it does also have high levels of Omega 6 and these are thought to affect your hormones in a negative way during midlife. If you are a big lover of meat and love nothing more than a Spaghetti Bolognese of an evening, try swapping out half of the mince with a meat free alternative such as Quorn. I bet most people won’t even notice the difference in taste but the benefits you will be adding to your body will be huge!
4. INCREASE FIBRE 1 in 5 women over 40 have some kind of anal incontinence so getting your bowel health right is really important at this stage of our lives. Increasing your consumption of whole grain foods can help with a number of problems that women in menopause regularly have. These include lowering cholesterol, blood sugar levels and preventing constipation. Think brown rice, quinoa, oats and whole wheat bread.
5. REDUCE ALCOHOL Unfortunately, it is not possible to talk about the right foods to eat at midlife without addressing the elephant in the room, alcohol! Certain foods such as sugar, spices and caffeine are known to be provocative to menopause symptoms and will undoubtedly make them worse and so too can alcohol. It can heighten anxiety, increase body fat, worsen physical symptoms such as hot flushes and wreak havoc to our sleep. Now I am not going to tell you not to drink, I can only preach what I practice however, if you find alcohol increases your symptoms then consider reducing your intake.
“A healthy outside starts from the inside.”
If you want to join my private, supportive and friendly Facebook group, where women can have a safe space to discuss all things midlife then please follow this link and request to join