The Big M – Let’s talk about the Menopause with Natalie Elliot
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During menopause, women’s bodies undergo many changes and hormonal shifts, and with these shifts comes weight gain. But there are ways to go about tackling it.
Second Nature nutritionist, Tamara Willner, revealed women can lose weight by not being too hard on themselves.
She said: “The most important thing to remember is that the body goes through significant changes during menopause, so it’s important to be kind to ourselves and focus on self-care.
“Although weight is one marker of health, our mental wellbeing, fitness, and happiness are equally important.
“Focusing on those factors will make managing any potential weight gain easier and more natural.”
But the menopause itself isn’t just to blame for those unwanted pounds.
She explained it’s a combination of the present and the hormonal changes women experience in the years leading up to menopause.
This can impact both where they gain weight and how much weight they gain.
“The combination of lower metabolism and changes in stress hormones can result in an increase in weight and fat storage around our abdomen,” she said.
“Storing more fat around our middle section is linked to insulin resistance. When we become insulin resistant, our blood sugar levels remain consistently high, which further promotes fat storage.”
Tamara suggested the “best way” to manage blood sugar levels and weight in the long term is to adopt a lower-carbohydrate diet.
“This naturally increases our protein intake and healthy fats,” she said.
“These are digested more slowly than carbs, which can help us feel full and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, which can be stronger during menopause.”
High protein foods include chicken, tofu and eggs, whereas heathy fats can be found in foods such as salmon, avocado or olive oil.
She suggested focusing on having “three proper meals” each day can reduce the chances of cravings.
“When we do experience strong cravings, a good option is to enjoy something satisfying and delicious that’s made from whole foods,” the dietician said.
“That way, you’re not depriving yourself and you’ll be satisfied for longer, while reducing your intake of refined carbs.”
Tamara recommended a tasty yet healthy dessert option to curb those sweet-tooth cravings while still sticking to a low-carb diet.
Pear and chocolate crumble (serves four)
Prep time: 30-40 minutes
40g rolled oats or gluten-free oats
80g hazelnuts, finely chopped
One tsp ground cinnamon
Two tbsp coconut oil
Four ripe pears, peeled, cored, halved
Half tsp ground nutmeg
50g 85 percent dark chocolate
Half tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.
In a medium bowl, combine the oats, hazelnuts, cinnamon and coconut oil to make the crumble topping.
Place the pears, nutmeg and half a cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat.
Cover the pot with a lid and allow the pears to cook for 10-15 minutes or until you notice them soften.
Transfer the pears to a baking dish, and break up the chocolate block and scatter over the pears. Cover with the crumble topping and bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until pears are cooked through and the crumble is golden brown
Meanwhile, lightly beat the mascarpone with the vanilla extract.
Once cooked divide the pear crumble and serve with a dollop of vanilla mascarpone.
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