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On Your Table Blog

May 15, 2024

Women and food after 40

Women and food after 40

by Elizabeth Magee, LRD

I wasn’t born with the ability to eat whatever I want and not worry about gaining weight. It has always frustrated me, these people who can eat whatever they want and don’t gain a pound (we won’t get into the fact they may not have the best cholesterol or blood pressure). I know, being thin isn’t everything but I envy friends who seem to eat whatever, work out or don’t, and still look great. Lucky ducks.

I’m in my early 40’s and let me tell you, my metabolism isn’t acting like it’s running from something scary. In my opinion, it has slowed down. I can only imagine this will continue to happen. ANNOYING. I have gained weight, maybe not 20 pounds, but enough for me to notice in my clothes and in pictures of myself and I hate it. Especially when nothing has changed other than my age. I’m still thoughtful in my food choices, and I still work out – even when I don’t want to – most of the time.

I’m sure perimenopause, menopause, or something hormone-related is playing a huge factor in this. I’m certainly not a hormone expert, but something is up! It seems everyone is getting hormones checked. If you are, that’s your choice, but make sure you discuss this with your primary care provider who can refer you to an expert in the field before making an appointment just anywhere.

The other problem is loss of muscle mass. We start losing it around age 30 and can be anywhere from 3 to 8 percent every decade.  I  remember learning this when I was MUCH younger and definitely didn’t care. Now I know why every fitness person I follow is harping on us ladies to strength train!! I’m vowing right now to start doing it regularly.

We’re losing muscle, muscle burns more calories than fat, and calorie needs decrease as we age. Sounds like a bunch of stuff we can’t control.

What can we control? What we are choosing to eat!!

  • More fruits and veggies (the least surprising thing you’ll find out today). Full of fiber (good for blood sugar and cholesterol), a lot of bang for your buck – lower in calories but fills you up, not to mention all the nutrients we get with each different color we eat.
  • Add nuts, especially walnuts for healthy fats, a little protein, and some anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Include enough healthy sources of proteins – lean meats, eggs, and low-fat dairy can all give you a boost that will keep you fuller longer.
    • Looking to mix it up? Try some plant-based proteins for something new.
  • Unprocessed foods. This pains me the most. Processed foods taste good and are readily available. But pizza and chips aren’t offering us a ton of nutrients and can also be high in unhealthy fat.
  • Keep your bone health in check with dairy – a quick breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and granola covers a bunch of food groups and is a delicious way to get nutrients.

It’s not a given that we’ll gain weight as we age, don’t panic. But it may be important to be mindful of your food choices and maybe change up your exercise routine.

I’ll be here doing it with the rest of you.

Elizabeth Magee is a registered licensed dietitian and loves chips and salsa!Elizabeth Magee is a licensed registered dietitian. Her posts appear monthly on OYT.

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