When I first started my weight loss efforts in perimenopause and on into menopause I could have done with a comprehensive list of foods I could enjoy without the worry of it finding its way directly onto my newly aquired belly. Or of foods I should avoid because they were absolutely heading for my belly to mix it up with the rest of the fat that had found its way there already. There was so much conflicting information it would make my head spin.
While working my way through my health coach training and menopause I have built an extensive list of foods that work well to give energy and help lose weight and foods that definitely don’t. Many women have asked me during my time writing for this website. “What should I eat?” This is not a definitive list but it’s pretty well close.
This list of 10 foods to eat and 10 foods to avoid if your losing menopausal weight is like my bible and now, it can be yours too.
Research suggests that women in perimenopause right through to post menopause burn up to 300 less calories per day compared than when they were in their early 20s. Hardly seems fair does it? It maybe generalising but I’m pretty sure we do 10 times the physical movement. At least it feels like it.
Of course, it’s a bit like colouring in. Sometimes you go outside the lines. If you have been consistent in eating and living healthy your body can bounce back easily and the occasional indiscretion is not going to completely derail you. Don’t judge yourself harshly, just quietly put yourself back on track and maybe note the circumstances around why you struggled at that point.
While there is no perfect solution for losing midlife weight, there are foods that can help you achieve your weight-loss goals. For menopausal women the best foods to include in any weight-loss plan should have a few things in common.
They should be high in fibre which helps keep you feeling fuller longer and you should be able to eat a lot without blowing out on calories.
The following menopause diet foods are good choices to include in any regime to lose weight as they tick all the boxes of fibre, nutrients and the ability to keep you feel fuller for longer. They have the added plus of also helping to reduce other symptoms of menopause.
As a short cut to knowing what to eat consider filling your plate at least half full of rainbow coloured vegetables, these are nutrient rich carbohydrates that take their time to convert to energy.
These include spinach, kale, silverbeet, beetroot leaves.
Leafy greens are low in carbohydrates but high in fibre. So they make you feel full without the added calories.
They are high in calcium which studies have indicated may help with fat burning by increasing your metabolism.
Leafy greens are also rich in many nutrients for cancer-fighting and boosting brain function.
These particular vegetables will be mentioned everywhere where the menopause diet is mentioned as they contain so many nutrients that help with reducing menopausal symptoms especially for those women who want to lose weight.
These include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussel sprouts.
As with the leafy greens these are high in fibre so help you to feel full. They also contain a little protein which also works to help you feel satisfied. When you’re trying to lose weight, feeling fuller for longer is a godsend.
Again, these foods are rich in nutrients with cancer-fighting properties.
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These are high in beneficial fats particularly monounsaturated oleic acid which is also found in olive oil.
Avocados are also high in fibre and nutrients such as potassium which is vital to help your cells work the right way.
These include chickpeas, lentils, black beans and kidney beans.
These foods are high in soluble and insoluble fibre and protein which are all good for making you feel full.
They will help your body to fight inflammation as they are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
Some people can be intolerant of legumes but as long as they are cooked correctly they shouldn’t cause any problems.
If you find you have digestive issues with legumes soaking or sprouting them may help with this.
Including almonds, walnuts, brazil, macadamia and pistachio.
Nuts make an excellent snack as they contain balanced amounts of protein, fibre and healthy fats.
They are rich in sterols, stanols, fibre, minerals, and other health-promoting nutrients.
Nuts can be quite high in calories so are best eaten in moderation.
Eggs although low in calories are very filling and nutrient-dense. They are high in protein and fat and will help you feel fuller for longer. Protein is a valuable addition to any weight loss plan thanks to its satiety qualities.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Having some apple cider vinegar with or on your meals can increase feelings of fullness helping you to eat less.
Vinegar has been shown to help reduce blood sugar spikes. This can help control your hunger hormones as well as reduce the likelihood of hot flashes and night sweats if you are in perimenopause or menopause.
Including raspberries, blueberries and blackberries
These are high in fibre and low in sugar. They are also packed full of critical minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, flavonoids, and polyphenols that are good for your brain, heart, and overall health. These are a go-to fruit for any weight maintenance regime.
Especially chia, linseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
Chia and linseed are particularly high in fibre. Almost all of the carbs in chia seeds are made up of fibre.
Pumpkin seeds are dense with protein and fibre, which will both keep cravings at bay. They are also a good source of zinc.
Flaxseeds are rich in proteins. The protein content is a good appetite suppressant. They are also loaded with nutrients and are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which is a welcome nutrient in any menopause diet for its ability to help ease feelings of depression and reduce occurrences of hot flashes and night sweats. Protein is also an essential ingredient in helping to build and maintain muscle mass. The more muscle mass we have in menopause the more fat we burn.
Sunflower seeds are high in protein and rich in healthy fats so once again will help you with feeling full. They also contain antioxidants and are a good source of Vitamin E.
Green tea contains caffeine, a known stimulant that can aid weight loss. Although it contains far than coffee green tea has other health benefits that make it a better choice.
The most important benefit is the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that it contains, and which can boost metabolism.
There are many healthy foods that can be included in any weight loss diet.
They are mainly minimally processed or not processed at all and are whole foods like fish, lean meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds and legumes.
They should be consumed in moderation and be part of a lifestyle that includes regular exercise, plenty of sleep and minimal stress.
Foods to Avoid
This is a list of commonly consumed foods that do more harm than good when trying to lose weight, especially the weight that we gain around the middle of midlife.
Sugar is naturally in lots of foods like fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese, and even grains. And of course, sugar is what will raise your blood sugar levels which is the first step on the way to insulin resistance.
However, it is the added sugar in different forms that we need to be concerned about. There is sugar and syrup added to processed and prepackaged foods like ice cream, cookies, candy, and soda, as well as to less obvious products like ketchup, spaghetti sauce, yoghurt, bread, and salad dressing.
It can sneak into your diet without you realising it. It is worth reading labels carefully and using alternatives such as unsweetened yoghurt.
It would be beneficial to first cut out as much added sugar as you can. Once you have been through that process you can assess how much and what type of fruit you are eating as sugar can mount up in the form of bananas, dried fruit, stone fruits without us really realising it.
White bread is made from highly refined wheat flour and is also often high in sugar.
Keep in mind that bread made from flour contains gluten. Other options that won’t wreck your waistline would be bread made from almond meals or seed flours.
Potato chips may cause more weight gain in the population than any other food.
They are often cooked in highly refined and processed, unstable oils which also increase our Omega 6 intake which can, in the right circumstances, cause inflammation. These, along with bread, pasta, rice, biscuits, cake and more are what we would consider refined carbohydrates. A diet that includes a lot of these carbs is the fast road to insulin resistance and diabetes.
The fruit juice you find at the supermarket often has little in common with a piece of fruit.
Fruit juices are highly processed and contain added sugar.
In some cases, fruit juice can contain more sugar than soda.
Also, there is little to no fibre left from the original fruit making it easy to consume far more than you would if it were the whole fruit.
Processed meats include bacon, jerky, hot dogs, salami, and ham. These are usually high in salt and low in nutrients. They are often far more calorie-dense than other lean protein sources, such as poultry, fish, and beans
Although these bars can contain some fibre and protein they can often contain more sugar than a candy bar.
Don’t be fooled by the seductive packaging that appears to be for something far more wholesome and healthy.
A handful of nuts or some fruit and greek yoghurt would be far more healthy.
Fresh fruit contains nutrients and fibre and can be quite low in calories. Its dried counterpart however is far more condensed with concentrated sugar and minus the fibre, plus they are easy to overconsume. It’s easy to eat four or five dried apricots but how many of us would eat them if they were fresh. Where you can stick to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Yoghurt is often considered a healthy food but a majority of the flavoured yoghurts on the market are full of sugar.
It is important to check the label for added sugar in one of its many forms.
Look for low-fat Greek yoghurt without added sugar and sprinkle fresh berries on the top for flavour use fresh berries for flavour.
Alcohol can add a lot of calories to your day. The cumulative effects can derail your weight loss efforts.
Your body burns alcohol before it moves on to anything else. So you won’t burn fat until the alcohol is dealt with.
This last item was a difficult one to decide on so this is a catch-all. It includes mostly processed foods that are high in sugar sodium and all sorts of other nasties:
- ice cream which is just a big ole tub of sugar and processed milk products.
- Hot chips
- Biscuits and cakes
- Processed foods such as, frozen meals, deli meats etc.
These foods are packed full of sugar and ingredients that will hinder any weight loss effort.
If you’re not sure if a food is one to be included or avoid I urge you to become a regular reader of labels.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the other names that sugar can go by.
Consider your portion sizes. Often just a little less will still make you feel satiated and cut out a few unnecessary calories.
Please also consider mindful eating paying close attention to how you eat. This can help moderate your food intake.
One last thought. Take a look back at the images in this post. What do you notice? I see that most of the foods to be avoided look bland and unappetising with the exception perhaps of the fruit juices. You fill up a plate with foods that don’t fit into a healthy whole foods diet and you will see a whole lot of bland.
Eat the rainbow and you can be sure that you are eating healthy foods that are full of nutrients.