Maybe you’ve noticed that after menopause, you started to put on a little weight, even if you never had an issue with abdominal weight gain before.
While it’s normal for both men and women to put on more weight as they age because of metabolic changes, women going through menopause have a few additional challenges. For National Women’s Health Week, May 14-20, ThedaCare offers some insights – and possible solutions – when it comes to midlife weight gain for women.
“In general, as we age, the body becomes more prone to weight gain,” said Ashley Krautkramer, ThedaCare Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. “Hormonal changes during menopause can make it more likely for women to put on weight, particularly around their abdomen.”
Additionally, genetics play a role. If you have family members who developed extra weight around the abdomen, you may be prone to developing the same issue, Krautkramer said.
It is important to try to keep a healthy weight, as excess weight can lead to serious health problems, including breathing problems, sleep apnea, Type 2 Diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Excess weight also can increase your risk of certain types of cancer.
The good news is there are things that women can do to counter the tendency to put on weight as they enter menopause.
“Lifestyle changes certainly can help you to avoid or turn around the weight gain,” Krautkramer said. “Reducing your caloric intake, without compromising your nutrition, can help you to maintain your weight or lose some.”
For example, women in their 50s may need to consume about 200 fewer calories than they did before to maintain their weight.
“Before starting a new diet, it is always a good recommendation to speak with your primary care provider,” Krautkramer said. “Generally, choosing a plant-based diet is a healthy option. Choosing more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and foods that contain more fiber can help you to feel full and keep a healthy weight.”
Legumes such as beans, peas and lentils, are low fat and high in fiber and can be a great substitute for meats like beef and chicken, which have a higher fat content. Legumes also contain lots of potassium, iron, magnesium and folate, minerals and vitamins that are needed by the body.
Fish and low-fat foods and nuts in moderate quantity are also healthy options.
Increasing physical activity, particularly a combination of aerobic exercise, can help women in menopause maintain a healthy weight.
“Simply becoming aware of the foods that you’re currently consuming can help you to make better choices,” Krautkramer said. “Alcohol, sweets and sweetened beverages, including flavored waters, can add a lot to your daily calorie count.”
Seeking support from a dietitian help you get started on your weight loss journey. Always see a health care provider before starting a new exercise plan.
“We want women to feel empowered to live their best life,” said Krautkramer. “That can include maintaining a healthy weight, as well as feeling good about yourself. We hope women can find their unique balance, and we’re here to help.”
For certain patients with significant weight gain and difficulty losing it on their own, ThedaCare’s accredited Bariatrics Program may be an option.
The Bariatrics team offers various solutions, including non-surgical weight loss, which involves the placement of a temporary saline-filled balloon in the stomach. It also offers a fully robotic surgical weight loss option for those with a BMI of 35 or higher and another significant health risk factor, or those with a BMI over 40. More information can be found at thedacare.org/services/weight-loss-solutions/.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including eight hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique, best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts about a patient’s care. ThedaCare is proud to partner with Children’s Wisconsin and Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network to enhance convenient access to the most advanced levels of specialty care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.