During a woman’s reproductive years, the estrogen that is produced helps control body weight, among other things. When a woman approaches menopause and estrogen begins to decline, symptoms and side effects can include:
- Increased appetite
- Decreased activity
- Decreased muscle mass, metabolic rates and use of starches and blood sugars
- Decline in the rate at which you can use up energy during exercise
Some exercise options include strength or weight resistance training, yoga or even something as simple as gardening. These will help build muscle mass, improve metabolism and maintain bone mass.
In addition, regular exercise can help decrease your risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, keep your joints and muscles strong, relieve depression and anxiety and improve your overall health.
Diet is also important for a woman in perimenopause or post-menopause. Try to incorporate whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean protein and fish into your diet, and limit sugar, white flour, fried and processed foods, sugary desserts and cheese.
Suggestions that might help you make healthy food choices are:
- Don’t eat late at night
- Keep a diary or an app on your phone to log your food and portion sizes
- When you eat out, take half of the food home
- Eat small amounts more often
- Drink plenty of water
- Limit your alcohol intake
You can also discuss with your physician if supplements, such as calcium, vitamin D3 or iron might be right for you.
The symptoms of menopause can be a vicious cycle. Night sweats can interrupt sleep, causing you to be fatigued and irritable. Know that you’re not alone. Find a friend who understands the lifestyle changes you’re going through, and don’t be afraid to talk to your health care provider if you have concerns or questions.
Vickie Bannister, W.H.N.P.-B.C., C-M.C., is a nurse practitioner and certified menopause clinician at MidMichigan Health. She has a special interest in contraception, colposcopies, gynecological problems, the HPV vaccine, pap/pelvic exams and menopause treatments. Vickie sees patients at MidMichigan Health Park – West Branch. To make an appointment, contact her office at (989) 345-8120.