As women enter into their 40s, numerous changes start occurring in our bodies.  Some we notice, and some we don’t, but they are indeed happening. The most common complaints I hear from clients in this age group are these:

  • “I never had a problem with my weight until I turned 40.”
  • ” I was always able to take the weight off when I needed to, but nothing is working now.”
  • “I never had this belly before, and I don’t like it.”

Any of these sound familiar? If so, you are not alone! This is because changes in our hormone levels during these perimenopausal years are responsible for the changes we see and feel in our bodies.

Perimenopause usually begins in our 40s but can start as early as the mid-30s for some women. This change in hormone levels increases the rate at which we store fat (especially around the midsection), and decreases our ability to burn fat.  So this results in unwanted weight gain – commonly in the belly area.

There are also other changes happening during these years that we may not necessarily notice, but they do affect our health.  As we age, we begin to lose lean body mass, our bone health starts to get depleted, and our sleep becomes interrupted – either from hot flashes or insomnia. Our digestion changes, often leading to belly bloating and constipation. Sigh, sounds fun, huh?

But wait, there is hope! Instead of dreading these years and feeling doomed, we need to accept that our bodies are changing and empower ourselves with the knowledge of what we can do to combat these changes.

The good news is the types of foods, how much and when we eat them can make all the difference.

Here are some tips to get you thru the 40s while regaining control of your body and becoming as healthy and fit as you can!

  1. Take in fewer calories– Your body isn’t burning them off as well as it used to. Include protein foods at each meal; this will keep you feeling full longer and will help promote lean muscle mass limit carb-heavy meals including bagels, pasta, subs, etc.
  2. Don’t drink excessive calories – coffee drinks and smoothies can be loaded with calories
  3. Limit alcohol intake– nobody likes to hear this one but it really does make a big difference in weight!
  4. Include dairy in your daily diet – this maintains bone health and lean muscle mass – a low-fat Greek yogurt is a great option!
  5. Start taking a probiotic – discuss with your dietitian or doctor before doing so.
  6. exercise daily – and be sure to include both cardio and weight resistance in your workouts

Knowledge is power and being aware of how to best handle this transition can make these years a little easier and help you be the best you!

Linda Nikolakopoulos is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist, serving Boston’s North Shore area. She has 20 years experience in the field of nutrition and has an expertise in weight loss and healthy weight management. She has a non-diet approach and helps clients develop healthy eating habits and a better relationship with food, all while obtaining their weight and healthy lifestyle goals. She sees clients in her Peabody and Danvers offices.