By: Red Hot Mamas
Published: March 8, 2013
“You are what you eat” applies here! Would you like to be walking around at menopause (or any time for that matter) 40lbs overweight, developing ambulation difficulties due to the extra strain on your joints, with atherosclerotic plaque narrowing your blood vessels and elevated glucose levels slowly souring your kidneys, vision, and further adding to your coronary artery burden?
Keep avoiding the gym and eating large portions of a simple carb/meat based diet, snacking on sugary/carby stuff and I can GUARANTEE a life expectancy well less than your more healthy neighbors, and more hassles during the years before you finally succumb. Even if you have been dietarily indiscreet and exercise challenged most of your life, it is never too late to teach us old dogs new tricks.
Even changes relatively later in life will prolong both total years and quality of life during those years.
So how should you eat? Below, I give you a surprisingly easy way to change eating patterns that will actually “melt away” the pounds!
What to eat; what to avoid?
Not many surprises here…
The Good: Convert for the most part to a plant-based diet combined with a Mediterranean-style diet.
This means significantly decreasing animal fats and simple carbs. “Good stuff” includes complex carbs:
- Fruit and vegetables (preferably fresh)
- Nuts and seeds, preferably raw or roasted
- Whole grains via cereals, salads, fully whole-grain breads
- Rice (preferably brown)
- Legumes (all types of beans, including soy bean products like tofu and tempe)
- Fish and shellfish are great, but be aware that most all shellfish is relatively high in cholesterol
A word about protein… Good protein sources certainly are the legumes, poultry (better without the skin and white meat has less cholesterol than dark), most all fish (but watch how you prepare, same with chicken. You’re sort of defeating the purpose if you deep-fry it!). Meat? Try to avoid the fattier cuts and limit red meat to only once-twice/week! Pork is OK, but same thing as beef: the ribs, bacon, etc are no-no’s. Stick to loin fillet and chops. Lamb generally has a lot of fat.
Substitute oil (especially the mono or unsaturated oils like olive, safflower, nut oils, vegetable oils) for butter and margarine, using only a tiny bit of butter if you must for flavor. Dairy products low or (better) non-fat. Eggs are a good protein source, but the yolks are high in cholesterol, so try using only half of the yolks (2 eggs but only one yolk) or even better, get rid of the yolks altogether. Try and limit yolks to only 2-3/week.
Believe it or not, 1-2 alcoholic drinks/day (red wine may be the healthiest, but I’m speaking of alcohol in general here) appears to be more health-preserving than tea-totling.
Chocolate? Actually, dark chocolate (65-75% cacao content) is not bad, and healthier than milk chocolate, or chocolate/sweet filling combos. But, in moderation.
The Bad: Simple carbs — sweet stuff. Refined flour (which means doing away with deep-fried/breaded, bread/cake/bagels/rolls except occasionally. Potatoes. White rice.
…and The Ugly: Fat,fat,fats..! Refined sugar. High fructose corn syrup. Big meals!!
Here is the real important part: As important as what you eat is how you eat it, specifically, portion size and number of times you eat throughout the day. Most of us tend to eat at mealtimes and eat ‘til we’re full, right? What I’m advocating, and the science is behind it is a different pattern of eating. One which is healthier for your body, and will burn off more calories.
Calories are units of weight. Calories are lost only by muscular action. The intestine is basically a tube surrounded by thin muscular bands that propel food towards a rendezvous with the destiny of your toilet bowl. The more meals you eat, the more calories you expend, the thinner your waist line. You will expend 50% more calories by eating 5-6 small healthy meals/day than if you take in the same number of calories in 2-3 larger meals! This can lead, by itself, to 1/2-3/4lb of weight loss per month. Plus, you will never become hypoglycemic.
So… how do you do this? By developing a different eating pattern. Instead of eating at mealtimes, and eating ‘til full, try eating when you begin to notice you are hungry, and eating until you are no longer hungry. This is done by having your refrigerator at home, a refrigerator at work, a carry-along small cooler, etc. filled with pre-arranged small portions of complex carb/protein foods. Small pre-prepared salads, veggies with hummus, nonfat yoghurt, fruit, small portions (not larger than a deck of cards) of left-over chicken, meat, casserole, etc. Load up (package your own) on small serving size mini-meals, and have them stored everywhere. When you eat out, automatically remove half from your plate into a take-away container. Have sandwiches cut in half and each half wrapped separately. Take half home or with you to eat later- when you are hungry again. Eat 5, 6 or 7 mini-meals per day as a routine.
But, also important! Don’t get too carried away. Treat yourself occasionally. You don’t have to be too severe. If your everyday pattern is what I’ve described, there’s no harm in breaking the pattern here ‘n there. A large meal on occasion won’t kill you, but I think you will find that, if you follow my guidelines, you’ll not feel terribly comfortably if/when you sit down for a big one…
About the Author: Dr. Goodman is Advisor to Red Hot Mamas and has been practicing women’s healthcare since finishing his OB/GYN residency at Stanford University in 1972. Following a transition from his full-time OB practice in 1988, he began devoting his career to Women’s Integrative Health and emerged as a pioneer in the development and advancement of Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery. Learn more about Dr. Goodman and our other Red Hot Mamas advisors.
For more advice on nutrition and menopause, check out Eat to Defeat Menopause: The Essential Nutrition Guide for a Healthy Midlife—with 130 Recipes, Karen Giblin and Mache Seibel, MD, two of the nation’s top menopause experts, break down the most important, need-to-know facts about menopause, offer tips and advice for combating its symptoms, and provide healthy and enticing recipes (like Maine Wild Blueberry Granola French Toast, Caribbean-Style Black Bean and Rice Salad, Lobster and Duck Chow Mein, and Chocolate Mousse Pie) guaranteed to satisfy every craving (or mood swing).