reducing-the-waistline

A menopause belly is pretty common for several women. There is a shift in the way the body stores fat (to the front and sides of the abdomen), owing to the decline in the hormone oestrogen, and losing this excess weight seems nearly impossible. Along with a shift in hormones, there are dietary changes coupled with stress, which can all be a hindrance to health.

But it is not just hormonal changes alone that can lead to a menopause belly. It is a combination of aging, genetics and other lifestyle factors. This increase in abdominal fat is linked to a higher risk of hypertension, heart disease, diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels. Therefore, a menopause belly is more than just a cosmetic issue.

Although you don’t have much control over the change in hormones during menopause, there are several steps you can take to make weight loss easier during this time.

Dietary modifications

  • Reducing the menopause belly starts with reviewing your diet and reducing caloric intake.
  • The main post-menopausal storage depot for excess calories is your abdomen. Another reason for menopause belly is bloating, caused by foods that can cause gas or water retention.
  • Hormonal disruption during menopause can cause your body to retain fluids easily, leading to water retention.
  • Limit alcohol consumption as it adds excess calories to your diet and increases the risk of weight gain.
  • Eat more soluble and insoluble fibre.
  • Exercise to shed belly fat — ranging from walking, strength training, high intensity exercise, yoga, etc.
  • Aerobic activity along with strength training can help you shed excess weight as well. As you gain muscle mass, your body burns calories more effectively, which makes it easier to control your weight. For most healthy adults, moderate aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, swimming, and cycling, for at least four to five days a week is recommended. Additionally, strength training exercises are also advised at least twice a week.

Stress management

  • Dealing with stress can help curb weight gain. Stress, in addition to increasing the risk of heart disease, also leads to elevated cortisol levels, which are associated with increased abdominal fat.
  • Here are a few ways to reduce stress levels.
  • Practising yoga
  • Sharing your concerns with your friends, family or counsellor.
  • Getting adequate sleep is imperative for alert functioning during the waking hours. Therefore, try to get 8 hours of sound sleep daily.

Remember that the choices you make, on a daily basis, either work for you or against you. As you cross the age of 40, you need to consciously plan your food and make certain lifestyle changes that don’t contribute to a fatty belly. The choice is yours alone

(As published in Hindustan Times dated February 17, 2020)

February 17, 2020

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