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Menopause ~ The Gift That Keeps On Giving!

Posted in Personal Blog

“Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”

What nobody tells you about the menopause is that you suddenly find yourself with fat under your boobs ~ your upper abdomen decides to hold onto fat and make you look as if you are several months pregnant!

At first when I found myself to have this phenomenon I assumed it was due to the 5+ months I was on prednisolone, so put it down to the steroids and assumed once I had finished taking them that it would melt away. It didn’t.

It could just be that it was coincidental gaining this issue of upper abdominal fat within the last month of taking the steroids as I am also menopausal and have discovered that this is also possibly due to that instead.

The decline in hormones during and after menopause is just one part of the menopause belly. For many women, their level of activity slows with age. Many women don’t reduce their caloric intake to match the lowered activity. The lower activity level, coupled with a decline in muscle mass from less exercise, lowers the metabolic rate, leading to an increase in stored fat.”

Oh deep joy! Unfortunately I am activity challenged in than my levels of activity are severely compromised by chronic health conditions, pain and fatigue. My one weekly session of hydrotherapy with the rheumatoid phyisiotherapist wipes me out for the rest of the week, I spend days close to tears with the constant nagging pain and fatigue. I am told it gets worse before it gets better but am hoping that it doesn’t get any worse and gets better very soon. This debilitating health issue is frustrating and depressing. Not having the control over my body is beyond annoying and I admit to having dark days because of it.

This info graphic show us the joys the menopause brings us..

The Aaptiv magazine which I found online, does have dietary tips to address this issue.
It suggests..
Don’t fear fat ~ “good fats,” such as omega-3s, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. Foods containing these good fats include avocados, walnuts, olive oil, salmon, tuna, dark chocolate, and flaxseed. “These good fats have been proven to aid in weight loss,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, registered dietitian and founder of TLB Nutrition in New York City
Exercise portion control ~ Beckermen tells us “It is so hard to conceptualize how many servings you are eating if you do not measure it out beforehand,” she says. “This can also be a challenge when dining out because we live in a culture of supersizing.” Also, remember that you don’t have to eat every last morsel of food on your plate.
Eat the colours of the rainbow ~ our friend Beckermen explains ““Making sure that your plate has at least three different colours on it will help you focus on creating more balanced meals. “Different coloured fruits and vegetables also provide nutrients and vitamins, which will not only help with weight loss but [also] overall health.”
Boost your protein intake ~ Beckermen continues to tell us “Add a palm-sized portion of lean meat, like chicken, fish, or legumes, to salads and swap out carb ~ and calorie-heavy items like bagels, replacing them with protein-rich eggs, cheese, or nut butter or yoghurt to your diet,”
Eat breakfast ~ Beckermen is replaced at this point by Robert Herbst, personal trainer, weight loss and wellness coach and I’m sorry to disagree with him but I’m a brunch kinda gal and I just can’t eat in the morning, plus I believe you should only eat when hungry. For those of you who can he says  “Having breakfast gives people needed nutrients and evens out the blood sugar so [that] people are less likely to binge on calorie dense junk later in the day.”
Stay hydrated ~ I am  strong advocate for drinking plenty of water and whole heartedly agree with this point, for this we are joined by Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D who says “Often people think [that] they are hungry, but they are really thirsty,” She recommends drinking at least half of your body weight in ounces of water a day.
Swap your snack for something healthier ~ “small diet changes such as replacing a bag of chips with a piece of fruit or an ounce of cheese~adds up” This is said by someone called Cooper, I have no idea if Cooper is first or last name, or what gender they may be.
Replace emotional snacking with a fun activity ~ elusive Cooper also “recommends working to identify your “true hunger” and also trying alternatives to eating when you might not be actually craving food. Going outside for a walk, taking a warm, relaxing bath, or reading a book are all excellent solutions to help ease your stress and sadness, without turning to food.
Don’t drink your calories ~ Herbst.returns and he recommends that instead of posh high calorie coffees having a satisfying lower calorie cup of tea and saving the coffee fraps for once or twice a week. Nobody says reduce alcohol intake but I have heard or read somewhere to equate a glass of wine with the same calories as a doughnut ~ just my little addition to this point. However, I also believe everything in moderation and not to rule anything out but eat or drink it mindfully.

The magazine article also advocates tracking calories which I disagree with ~ anything that screams D~I~E~T is doomed to fail, instead just eat when hungry, stop when full, don’t feel obliged to clear the plate, eat mindfully and wherever possible avoid junk foods but allow yourself the odd treat when you desire it and if you like a tipple drink mindfully too ~ and not every night.

If you are a “bloater” then the article advises you to avoid these bloating foods..

Top Bloat Offenders
Carbonated beverages.
Vegetables, such as onions, broccoli, beans, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
Soy products.
Foods high in fructose (some processed foods, and fruits such as apples, cherries, watermelon, and pears).
Sugar substitutes, such as sorbitol, mannitol, or xylitol (found in some chewing gums and sugar~free foods).
High fibre foods. Although fibre is good for you, adding too much fibre (especially insoluble fibre) too quickly into your diet can cause bloating.

On the TV the news has been pushing high fibre diets for health benefits and so this part is important regardless of bloating.

Talking of the TV and news about foods and so on, I digress to share with you the proposed “save the planet diet” as a new way of eating recommended to everyone ~ not a “diet” to lose weight but one to actually save the planet. I LOVE this plan and hope people listen and adapt to it, but have a sinking feeling some folk will thumb their noses at it and continue on with high meat lifestyles.

You can read about it here, but what it suggests is..

“Planetary health diet’ would prevent millions of deaths a year and avoid climate change. The “planetary health diet” was created by an international commission seeking to draw up guidelines that provide nutritious food to the world’s fast-growing population. At the same time, the diet addresses the major role of farming ~ especially livestock ~ in driving climate change, the destruction of wildlife and the pollution of rivers and oceans.Globally, the diet requires red meat and sugar consumption to be cut by half, while vegetables, fruit, pulses and nuts must double. But in specific places the changes are stark. North Americans need to eat 84% less red meat but six times more beans and lentils. For Europeans, eating 77% less red meat and 15 times more nuts and seeds meets the guidelines.

The planetary health diet is largely plant~based and allows an average of 2,500 calories a day. It allows one beef burger and two servings of fish a week, but most protein comes from pulses and nuts. A glass of milk a day, or some cheese or butter, fits within the guidelines, as does an egg or two a week. Half of each plate of food under the diet is vegetables and fruit, and a third is wholegrain cereals.

Willett said these provide the ingredients for a flexible and varied diet: “We are not talking about a deprivation diet here; we are talking about a way of eating that can be healthy, flavourful and enjoyable.”

The video below explains it further..

Anyway ~ back to that pesky upper abdominal fat that the menopause gifted so kindly.

I have found this site which tells us..
Abdominal (visceral) adiposity increases with the onset of menopause.
Abdominal tissue redistribution with menopause appears to be independent of age and total body fat and could be related to a relative deficit in estrogens.
Menopause has a negative impact on plasma lipoprotein-lipid levels, which may increase CVD risk.

Another online magazine tells us..
“Unfortunately weight gain during this time of our lives is common, though not unbeatable. Our body is going through changes, so the old methods used to keep us trim and in shape might not work as well as it used it, or sometimes it doesn’t work at all.”

Weight gain is caused by quite a few factors. Scientist reviewed decades of research In a 2012 study by International Menopause Society and concluded that the hormonal shifts of menopause change the distribution of body fat, making it more likely to accumulate in the abdomen.

As we age, our bodies slowly decreases its production of our reproductive hormones ~ estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, and testosterone. The decrease of estrogen especially leads to a shift of fat to the midsection.

Our hormones also contribute to the decrease of our lean body mass, so this means we lose muscle mass. Muscles help to burn calories while we work out as well as when we’re resting, so losing muscle mass means we are burning less fat.

Combine that with lifestyle changes such as sitting more, and moving less, and it’s a perfect recipe for weight gain! Exercises that used to work for you before might not have the same effect as it used to.Certain medication can also contribute to weight gain, such as antidepressants that are commonly prescribed for menopause or beta-blockers for palpitations, for instance. These little things add up and slowly contribute to weight gain.

A big factor that contributes to abdominal weight gain is our diet. Insulin resistance and blood sugar imbalance is a huge problem that leads to increased belly fat.And in menopause “a lot” of carbs really isn’t that much, and sadly the “good” carbs factor in here too, such as fruits and grains.

When you eat carbs your body’s blood glucose increases and spikes your blood sugar. Your body releases insulin as a reaction to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin is produced to get the glucose from your body and into the cells.There it gets converted to energy. Your body burns the glucose to make its energy and then insulin tells the cells to store their energy as carbs or fat (the unhealthy and dreaded belly fat).Getting control of blood sugar can lead to the loss of inches around the waist practically overnight. Plus there is the added benefit of restoring balance to other hormones, like thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones.”

The dietary tips from this article are to incorporate the good carbohydrates and fats into our diets along with reducing consumption of meat protein and alcohol and increasing consumption of vegetables and water. The rest of the article promotes supplements and special “diets” which I disagree with but I do agree with the information I copied and pasted above.

I found yet another article which thankfully advised against taking HRT ~ I have heard too many horror stories about taking it and know of a couple of people who were dangerously ill with blood clots on their lungs requiring long term warfarin and regular monitoring. It’s an option I refuse to consider for myself.

“It all harks back to the same thing, but specifically you don’t want to ingest an excessive amount of estrogenic substances like unfermented soy products or non-organic produce that has been sprayed with pesticides, since pesticides mimic estrogen. Organic vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage that contain (DIM), an Aromatase estrogen inhibitor should be eaten in abundance. Consume lots of green leafy vegetables (Kale, chard dandelions, etc). Eat organic meat (hormone free) and take iodine (in food form such as sea Kelp). Supplement with Nettle root for some extra natural aromatase inhibitors.”

Menopause is not just physical IT IS EMOTIONAL which is huge..nobody wants to age let alone age and suffer as well, it is fundamentally important that menopausal women must have a rock solid SUPPORT SYSTEM..apart from family and close friends that are equally as important, seek out Menopausal support groups if you don’t feel strong enough to handle this mega load on your own.”

All the other sites I found were all exercised based solutions which are not a route I am capable of going down ~ my weekly hydrotherapy sessions are killers for me and so daily workouts are pie in the sky for me.

However, if you can exercise all you have to do is google exercises to help remove/reduce menopause abdominal weight gain you will be inundated with solutions and exercise workouts for you to follow and try out.

It would seem that for me my only option is to try to alter my diet to see if I can shift this dangerous layer of fat sitting high up on my abdomen. I have noticed that since following a vegan diet that it has shrunk a little over the past fortnight which is awesome.

If you have any tips or advice regarding this issue please share them with me via the comments below this blog as I would be very interested to hear from and connect with you.


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