The climacteric period, the end of the child bearing age, is a frightening leap in the dark, even if a few women welcome it as a relief from “buying pads”. Normally, this passage is considered something negative- women feel they are getting older and “ugly”.
This is one of the main concern my patients take to my studio: “I am about to get to the menopause; my body is changing”. The skin isn’t bright any more, the fascinating hourglass body shape has disappeared, the belly is flattish and the hips and the upper part of the body have become more prominent. The breast increases in volume but they are not happy at all.
A careful study of the medical history of the family and the cyclic nature of the patients’ periods, clearly shows that PCOS is not something new: in fact, ovary cysts, infertility and hirsutism as well, have been common disorders for long time. PCOS doesn’t affect only the “daughters” but it affected the “mothers” too, but these ones didn’t understand what was happening to their body.
Well, the way PCOS has been treated during the child bearing age, influences the woman’s condition after the menopause. Generally speaking, out mothers’ diet might have been abundant, but it was definitively healthier and more balanced than ours. They didn’t use to work as many hours as we do, so they could prepare better meals, even though the interest in food was not so marked as it is today. On the other hand, we have inherited quite a lot of too rich and high calorie dishes from our culinary tradition.
The point is that, PCOS doesn’t disappear with the menopause. It just changes its face: from an ovary disorder, it becomes a metabolic syndrome.
The women who have suffered from PCOS show a higher risk of high glycaemia (over 100mg/dl), hypertension, and fat increase in the blood. Of course, these are not painful disorders, but they are underhand and, over the years, they may lead to a higher risk of developing diabetes, arteriosclerosis, serious cardiovascular diseases, and endometrial cancer.
The main character, in this moment of a woman’s life, is belly fat. As a consequence of insulin resistance and/or hyper-insulinemy, it is not only unaesthetic, but it produces proinflammatory substances which endanger a woman’s health in the long term. The cells of this adipose tissue store fat because they are particularly prone to the action of insulin.
So, let’s fight against it! Measure your girth at the navel: it should be about 88 cm (according to the guidelines for the cardiovascular health). Are you far from it? Don’t be worried about how long it will take, the nearer you will get to that number, the healthier you will be.
I don’t want to tell you again what you already know about nutrition, but you should focus on how your food habits has recently changed. Have you been eating more? Have you nibbled in between the meals because you have been more nervous or haven’t slept well? Have you replaced meat with cheese because you think it is healthier? You can’t do without a good glass of wine. Have you been using more oil? Or have you simply become more indulgent as you are aging?
Well, I would like to tell you that menopause doesn’t make you put on weight regardless of any other factors, in fact your body metabolizes what you eat more and more slowly.
- Boost your metabolism: high intensity interval training and some lifting may be a very useful option,
- Cut down on cheese: about 120-150 gr, 2 or 3 times a week is the right quantity. Yes, it is rich in calcium, but it is far richer in fat, indeed!
- Wine is not a good friend. The advantages of its polyphenols and anti-aging principles can’t equal the significant calorie intake which ends in swelling and belly fat;
- Be careful with the carb intake during and in between the meals. Take your nutritionist’s advice,
- Opt for wholegrain bread and pasta which are healthier than refined products;
- Green light to fish, but don’t deprive yourself of white meat and eggs as they provide your muscles with the right turnover of proteins.
- Have dried pulses as main course along with grain cereals such as barley, spelt, …
- Keep fat intake under control, and opt for extra virgin olive oil, seeds and shell fruit;
- Have plenty of fresh colorful seasonal vegetables;
- As fruit provides sugar, it can replace the carbs of your meals;
- Give up smoking gradually: cigarettes make your skin older, dull and full of wrinkles.
Never say: “Ok, it is just a small piece! It won’t be bad for me!” This thought sabotages your weight and your health. Get periodic medical tests, but remember that you haven’t lost anything. It is just another phase of your life: it is when you get wiser, when you have time to think about your life, and enjoy it in every essential moment.