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Meghan Tiernan (MS, RD, LDN) is a registered dietitian with a passion for helping others achieve a healthy lifestyle. She strives to help others learn the most nutritious way to eat, in order to achieve good health. Meghan enjoys cooking and running and believes that with just some basic knowledge, you can gain the confidence in yourself to know that you can eat well.

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by Meghan Tiernan, MS, RD, LDN

 
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Menopause is something that is pretty much inevitable. What is not inevitable is the weight gain most women associate with the "M" word. The truth is, while hormonal changes do play a role in weight gain, it's not the only reason why we gain weight as we age.

Menpoause and your dietAs we get older, our calorie needs decrease and eating well and exercising play a more critical role in how we manage our weight. The idea of being able to "exercise off" those excess calories does not necessarily hold as much weight as it does when we're in our 20's. While it's an unfortunate truth, it's not a guarantee that you'll become overweight. It just takes a little more effort on our parts to watch what we're eating and get moving. The principles of healthy eating don't change as our bodies change. In fact, the same things you hear all the time about healthy eating become that much more important.

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables " Fruits and vegetables are naturally lower in calories and don't contain any added sugar. They are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fiber. All these good qualities make them rock stars and should find their way into your diet several times a day. The important thing to remember is to try and eat these foods, not sip them. Even though vegetable juices are generally lower in calories and sugar than fruit juices, they are still loaded with sodium to make them taste better. Additionally, the juicing process takes away that valuable fiber that those whole fruits and vegetables provide. They also contain something known as phytoestrogens, which some have found to aid in minimizing the side effects of menopause.

2. Increase the fiber in your diet through fruits and veggies, whole grains, beans and legumes and flax seed. Fiber will always go hand in hand with weight loss. It makes you feel fuller quicker and lasts longer with less calories than other foods, and should be a staple in any healthy diet. It's easy to incorporate these foods into your meals by adding them to salads, yogurt, any dinner dish or in soups. For instance, I just recently made a butternut squash soup with cannellini beans - the entire soup gets pureed so you didn't even know they were in there, but just that addition increased the nutritional bang of that otherwise protein-lacking soup.

3.Eat more nutrient-dense foods and drinks, and less calorie dense foods and drinks. You want the calories you're consuming to do good things for your body, not just take up storage room as fat. While it's okay to indulge, you want to make what you eat count. Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, vegetable based protein, whole grains, low fat dairy and water are all great things to fill your body with. They all provide valuable services to the overall health of your body and get utilized efficiently. Added calories from sweets, sugary drinks, alcohol and simple carbohydrates, while tasty, don't provide much benefit to your bodies aside from calories. You can still enjoy these things, but just know that every calorie counts so be mindful of what you're taking in.

4. Drink your milk. Okay, so you don't have to necessarily get all your calcium from milk, but it's important to make sure you're getting adequate calcium in your diet. Our bones depend on it, especially as time goes on. You want to try and get at least 3 calcium rich servings of food daily, and if that is tough for you, think about taking a supplement. Calcium citrate is the better option in supplements because it's more easily absorbed in your body. If you're up for the challenge, try low fat milk, light milk alternatives (soy, almond, coconut), yogurt, cottage cheese, broccoli, leafy greens or beans.

5. Get Moving. Exercise and healthy eating go hand in hand. It's the only way to keep the weight off or work towards losing it. You can start slow, but it's very important you make it a part of your weekly routine. You want to get a combination of cardio and weight bearing exercise and get in at least 30 minutes each time you do it. It doesn't matter what you do, it's making sure you actually do it.

6. The deal with soy. A recent study found that two daily servings of soy can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes by up to 26% compared to placebo. While there's a lot of discrepancy about the effectiveness, the overall results have been positive. So try getting at least 2 servings of soy most days of the week through ...    Continue



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@ 11:00am ET on November 12, 2014
Thanks for the tips

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