Mother Nature is not always our best friend.

Menopause brings on a lot of changes in a woman’s life. Weight gain is one of them. Annette Dillon, an advanced practice registered nurse at Methodist Women’s Center Menopause clinic, said older women often ask how to tackle those unwanted pounds.

“Mother Nature thinks she’s helping us by giving us a few more fat cells, because they hold more natural estrogen to fight hot flashes,” said Dillon, who is certified by the North American Menopause Society. “Fighting Mother Nature is part of what we go through.”

The weight gain is often a natural part of the aging process. Some want to blame fluctuating hormones, but most of the time that’s not the case.

Fighting the natural weight gain that happens with age comes with diet and exercise. Both are extremely important when it comes to managing good health and managing those menopause moods.

“The two things I see the most from women are fatigue and weight gain,” said Dr. Thomas Martin, an OB/GYN at the Methodist menopause clinic. “You’ve got to have an exercise program that fits your style and your age. What’s going to give you the most satisfaction is if you can stay fit from the standpoint of just feeling better.”

So what’s important when it comes to a menopause diet? Keeping an eye on balanced nutrition:

>> Cut back on caffeine to boost natural energy and get better sleep.

>> Add fruits and vegetables for extra vitamins and fiber to get a slow gut moving.

>> Eat fewer carbs, which can rob us of energy and add extra unwanted pounds

“When it comes to diet, start slow,” said Dillon. “You’re not going to change everything in one day. Find that one thing you can do for today that’s going to make a change. Maybe cut out coffee and add a fruit or add five minutes of walking when you did none the day before.

“The only part in your life that’s going to change is you, so you have to find a way to take a step. Even baby steps are fine.”

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