When choosing the best diet for women over 40, what should you keep in mind?
Did you know that up to 50% of women are on a diet at any given time? By the time we reach our 40's, unhealthy dieting and deprivation patterns can wreak havoc on our metabolism, cause hormonal imbalances, cause weight gain, increase uncomfortable perimenopause and menopause symptoms, and add unnecessary stress to our bodies— which can speed up the aging process.
The good news?
It's never too late to start eating right for your unique body, and there is a best diet for women over 40.
Nourishing your body with the right vitamins, minerals, habits, and attitudes can shift you out of the cycle of depletion, and onto a healthier path where you lose weight quicker, reduce cravings, balance hormones, restore metabolism, and relieve some of the most uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause and menopause.
To do this, I like to start by reframing the concept of "dieting."
Rather than the next hottest "all or nothing," dogmatic, restrictive approach, I refer to "diet" as the overall sum of food choices you are making.
The truth is, any diet needs to be tailored to your own body, lifestyle, and individual needs. Especially when you're a woman over 40, there are a few key things you need to keep in mind when it comes to choosing the best diet.
Contrary to a lot of hit TV shows, the "all or nothing" approach, the "shame and punishment when you don't follow the plan exactly" approach, doesn't actually work. 95% of diets fail, and while people might lose weight initially, long term studies show they gain the weight back most of the time.
So in my approach, backed by my training in transformational health coaching, I encourage my clients to strive to be a "B Student."
You don't have to do everything perfectly (and you shouldn't try). Focusing on checking off the boxes and doing everything exactly by the books can disconnect you from your intuition, and your ability to listen to your body and what it needs.
At the end of the day, developing this skill of listening to your body, and lovingly honoring what it's saying, combined with a healthy, wholesome, balanced diet rich in high-quality fruits and vegetables, is the safest bet towards long-lasting health.
So, now that we've reframed the word "diet," read the 5 tips below to help you sort through diets out there, and discover one(s) might work best for you.
The first step is to start with your health challenges and symptoms that you are currently experiencing.
Do you have a hormone imbalance, diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, allergies, or adrenal fatigue? Or perhaps you have symptoms of hot flashes, difficulty sleeping, thinning hair, cold feet at night, or low energy. It’s essential to have a yearly physical with your doctor so you have a current health history.
Once you know your particular need, you can take your doctor's recommendations, your own research, and your internal intuition to develop the best options for you.
If you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic your blood glucose levels become too high due to the body’s inability to produce insulin. Therefore skipping meals, fasting, and eating the wrong foods may lead to problematic highs and lows of insulin.
According to the US News & World Report panel, the Mediterranean diet is a great option for preventing or controlling diabetes. The Mediterranean diet focusses mainly on eating fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fish and seafood at least twice a week.
If you have heart disease (or are at risk), the panel recommends that you consider the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The DASH diet is developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and consists of high fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, low-fat dairy, and limits foods high in sugar, saturated and trans fats.
If you are experiencing some unexpected weight gain, feeling anxious or moody, and having some difficulty sleeping you could be entering perimenopause, menopause or have some hormonal imbalances.
Finding a diet that helps balance your hormones can feel like an impossible task. I recommend you start with identifying which hormones are out of balance by getting blood work through your doctor. Once you determine which areas need attention then you can make the necessary dietary changes. I always recommend starting by changing your food choices, prior to making any changes to herbal remedies or starting bioidentical hormones.
As we age our bodies require shifts in our diet and lifestyle. And over time, our poor choices can add up to creating an environment that is acidic. Acid-producing foods are foods such as processed foods, meats, dairy, and sugars. Eating these in moderation is ok, but if you are not balancing with alkaline-rich foods then you will feel bloated, uncomfortable, have indigestion and become more prone to disease.
Make yourself more alkaline by adding more alkaline-rich foods to your diet such as dark leafy vegetables, avocados, asparagus, artichokes, and cruciferous vegetables. A good rule of thumb is the greener the food, the more alkaline it is. Eating predominantly more alkaline food is also easier on your digestion. Eating alkaline means consuming fresh foods as close to nature as possible: organic, small amounts of legumes, whole grains and lean proteins.
Another way to get more alkaline is to start your day with my Morning Elixir. Get this recipe and more with my free program: 3 Days to Ditch the Bloat— Click here for yours!
The easiest way to measure your alkalinity is through urine strips. It is recommended to have your PH between 7.0 and 8.0. If you are having trouble getting more alkaline, you can also consider getting more sleep, water, and reducing stress and toxins.
By making yourself more alkaline you will increase your energy.
A great way to help with energy, night sweats, mood swings, and hot flashes is to incorporate Maca powder into your daily routine. Maca powder is a healing root that has changed my life. Did I mention it helps with low libido too? I add a tablespoon to my morning smoothies and it sets me up for the day.
Once you know your health history, the next thing to consider is the ease of the diet.
Are you cooking for yourself or your family?
Will you have to make two separate meals?
Do you have the time to grocery shop and food prep? Is it a difficult schedule?
Do you have the budget?
These are all questions to look at prior to making a decision. Are there ways that you can make it easier on yourself? Perhaps having your groceries delivered, having a meal prep service, or taking the time to prep once a week and make double the recipe so you can freeze the leftovers.
According to the US Worlds News & Report, the #1 diet for 2019 was the Mediterranean Diet because it was the easiest diet to follow, the best diet for healthy living, and the best diet for diabetes.
If you are looking to make a lifestyle change and or to lose weight healthily and you don’t have any allergies or food sensitivities to seafood, legumes, or grains then the Mediterranean Diet might be a good fit. What I love about this diet is that it is not restrictive, and it’s one that kids enjoy too.
When looking at making any big change in your life, it's crucial to consider if it will actually work in your life, long-term.
Is this a diet that I can make part of my lifestyle?
Do I actually like the food?
Will it keep me satiated?
Is it too restrictive?
Does it support my community and is it good for the environment?
If you want to cut back on meat but don’t want the restrictions of being vegetarian then you might want to look at the Flexitarian Diet. This follows the vegetarian diet in a flexible manner. You don’t have to eliminate meat completely, but the focus is on eating more plants and less meat. This can also be known as a "plant-based" diet.
If supporting your local community and eating in season is important to you then you might want to look into the newest diet, the Nordic Diet. The Nordic diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet except in addition you seek out organic food (when possible), locally sourced ingredients, wild food, eating more seasonally and become conscious of eating out less and producing less waste.
Whenever you are looking to make food changes you are bound to experience some resistance. Whether self-imposed or from your family, friends, culture or community— any time we're making a real change we can bet the challenges are on their way.
Most women feel the need to power through and do everything themselves. We often feel that reaching out for support or help is considered a weakness.
This approach is exhausting. Trying to do everything yourself isn’t sustainable OR fun.
The truth is, to make long-term, sustainable changes especially with our food or health, we need support.
Do you have a family member or friend who can join you on this journey and serve as an accountability partner?
Or can you join a community, or hire a professional coach?
If private coaching isn’t in your budget, there are plenty of online programs out there that lay out an easy plan, allow you to go at your own pace, from the comfort of your home, and provide follow up support with private Facebook groups.
I'll actually be releasing a breakthrough program to promote the health, wellbeing and vibrancy of women over 40 called Love Yourself Healthy on February 6th of 2019. Interested? Click here to join the waitlist!
Truly, you'll know what kind of system will work best for you. We live in a beautiful era where we can connect with some of the most talented coaches, nutritionists, and wellness professionals via online programs, retreats, or other opportunities that provide endless chances for transformation.
I personally take 1-2 online courses per year, and love connecting with people from around the world over subjects I'm passionate about. This helps make lifestyle changes a lot easier, especially when your local community is living differently.
The final tip is to look at your history of dieting.
What diets did you try and why didn’t they work?
Was it lack of motivation?
Or too time-consuming?
Or perhaps the food didn’t taste good and you were hungry all the time?
Take a look at what you did and ask yourself why it didn’t work.
This is an opportunity to get honest with yourself.
But do so in a loving way through the lens of curiosity versus judgment. When you can look at your own bottlenecks and bring loving awareness you can accept that part of yourself and start to approach it differently. When this happens, you learn to trust yourself and to tap into your own intuition. So you can be at peace with food and form habits that are fun and sustainable. You can become healthier without having to remember to be healthier.
Whatever diet you choose, remember to look at your own health history, make sure it is easy for you to follow, fits in with your lifestyle, is sustainable and that you have support around making a change. And look at your past to ensure that you set yourself up for success moving forward.
As I mentioned previously, I am proud to announce that I will be releasing a brand new online course the first part of February 2019. If you'd like to discover your own authentic diet that works for your unique needs, have an easy plan to follow (where you won’t have any guesswork), get easy-to-follow recipes, a supportive community, and a fun coach all wrapped up in an unbelievably low price… Click here and I will put you on the waitlist and send you the details!