A new age of eat­ing

Once you hit mid­dle age, you have to pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to your life­style habits to pro­tect your health dur­ing your older years. Pro­fes­sor Ker­ryn Phelps and her daugh­ter, di­eti­tian and nu­tri­tion­ist Jaime Rose Cham­bers, ex­plain these shifts and of­fer ex

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - HEALTH -

For most women, “The Big Five-Oh” is a time of tran­si­tion and there are sev­eral health chal­lenges at this age – such as weight gain – that women should be aware of and take steps to man­age.

The ob­vi­ous tran­si­tion is the hor­monal change from pre­menopause to peri-menopause to menopause, where the most sig­nif­i­cant change is a drop in pro­ges­terone and oe­stro­gen lev­els. At the same time there is a slow­ing me­tab­o­lism as part of the age­ing process.

It’s the de­cline in these hor­mones that can be re­spon­si­ble for an in­crease in weight around the waist. There can also be a change in body com­po­si­tion where some women find they have in­creased fat mass and de­creased mus­cle mass – with­out any change in body weight. An in­crease of body weight or ab­dom­i­nal girth in­creases the risk of di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and some types of can­cer.

Some women will de­velop chronic dis­eases or mo­bil­ity prob­lems such as arthri­tis as they get older, and this can cause you to stop or slow down your usual ac­tiv­i­ties, which can also cause weight gain.

Fifty-some­thing can also cor­re­spond with a num­ber of life changes, which make it hard to get the bal­ance of healthy eat­ing and ex­er­cise right. These can in­clude el­derly par­ents need­ing ex­tra sup­port, adult chil­dren leav­ing home and grand­chil­dren com­ing along.

Re­duced bone den­sity with an in­creased in­ci­dence of bone frac­tures also be­comes a risk af­ter menopause, so a nu­tri­tional plan needs to con­sider ad­e­quate cal­cium and mag­ne­sium and other mi­cronu­tri­ents to main­tain your bone strength.

Prob­lems with di­ges­tion are also rel­a­tively com­mon with age. Con­sti­pa­tion, heart­burn, di­ver­tic­u­lar dis­ease, and flat­u­lence can all make food plan­ning a chal­lenge. Some older women cut out foods from their diet in an at­tempt to re­lieve these symp­toms.

Avoid­ing the food traps

To keep your weight in check, be aware of these com­mon food traps:

“MINDLESS” EAT­ING: Many peo­ple eat “mind­lessly” – that is, eat­ing with­out think­ing about what they are do­ing. Mindfulness is de­lib­er­ately pay­ing at­ten­tion, non-judge­men­tally, to what is go­ing on in your in­ter­nal and ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment. It’s a tech­nique that’s used to help you over­come all sorts of au­to­matic, ha­bit­ual pat­terns, like snack­ing.

WATCH YOUR POR­TIONS: As you get older, your kilojoule re­quire­ments are less. If your part­ner is younger, or a larger body size than you, your por­tion sizes need to be dif­fer­ent.

EAT­ING FOR ONE: Eat­ing is a very so­cial event for many of us. If you find your­self sin­gle or wid­owed in your mid­dle years, it can be hard to find the mo­ti­va­tion to cook for your­self ev­ery night. One so­lu­tion is to fo­cus on nu­tri­ent qual­ity for break­fast and lunch and ar­range to eat with friends or fam­ily at least a few nights a week.

NOT ENOUGH PRO­TEIN: A com­mon prob­lem we see is not eat­ing enough pro­tein. Main­tain­ing bone and mus­cle mass de­pends on ad­e­quate pro­tein, so in­clud­ing eggs, lean meat, chicken, fish, or tofu twice a day is im­por­tant. For the sake of your bones, don’t avoid dairy prod­ucts un­less you have another source of cal­cium.

EMPTY FRIDGE

AND PANTRY: It is hard to plan meals un­less you have the in­gre­di­ents. Plan your meals for the week, and aim to shop for fresh food at least twice a week. Make sure the sta­ple in­gre­di­ents don’t run out.

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