Nutrition

Food: The Best Medicine For Midlife Women

Using food as medicine is a powerful tool to help women lose weight and enjoy better health during the menopause life stage.

GLORIA RICHARD-DAVIS, MD

One of the most common complaints women have during the menopause life stage is weight gain. During the menopause transition, women gain an average of five pounds and often report that losing weight becomes more challenging as they age. Along with the weight gain comes an increased risk of chronic disease, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. In fact, research shows that over fifty percent of women over 50 have one or more chronic diseases. 

We also don’t want to lose the fact that multiple factors contribute to weight gain during menopause, genetic, hormonal changes, low physical activity, disease, and poor nutrition. The combination of factors leads to weight gain, loss of muscle mass, the increase and redistribution of fat (also known as “belly fat”), and a decrease in fat-free mass.

Increasingly, people are asking their healthcare provider for ways to manage their weight and health that help them lower or eliminate disease risk and avoid or transition away from prescription medications. Culinary medicine is a practical discipline that integrates the art of food and cooking with the science of medicine. It’s a treatment strategy designed to empower people to think of and use food as medicine and help them make good personal medical decisions about accessing and eating high-quality meals that help prevents and treats disease and restore well-being. 

At the Translational Science Symposium on Midlife Wellbeing held in advance of the 2021 Annual Meeting of the North American Menopause Society, expert Gloria Richard-Davis, MD, MBA, NCMP, FACOG from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, educated healthcare providers on using culinary medicine to improve health outcomes in midlife women. 

Dr. Richard-Davis offers these tips on how women can use food as medicine and a tool for managing weight in midlife.

When you put together a meal, strive for a rainbow of color on your plate that includes fresh vegetables, fruits, and plant proteins.
When you put together a meal, strive for a rainbow of color on your plate that includes fresh vegetables, fruits, and plant proteins.

Food As Medicine 

  • Think of healthy food as a lifestyle choice instead of a diet. 
  • Eat with mindfulness, noticing when you are full and the things that trigger unhealthy choices.
  • Start with small changes to your diet. A sudden major overhaul may lead to binge eating and failure.
  • Swap out less healthy food choices with healthier options. For example, instead of drinking soda, try sparkling water with natural flavor.
  • Consider trying the Mediterranean or a plant-based way of eating. Overwhelming evidence shows that this is the healthiest way of eating, managing weight, lowering your risk of chronic disease, and living longer.

Food as medicine is a powerful tool that every woman can use to manage her health and age well. Eat healthy, live strong!

This information was presented at the Translational Science Symposium “Charting the Path to Health in Midlife and Beyond: The Biology and Practice of Wellness” held in advance of the 2021 Annual Meeting of The North American Menopause Society in Washington, DC. Excerpts from the Translational Science Symposium are presented as part of the Live From #NAMS2021: The Latest Breakthroughs in Women’s Midlife Wellness series published by Women Living Better and Lisa Health with permission from NAMS. 

Please visit Midday and Women Living Better to find more information and recommendations from top experts in menopause, midlife health, and healthy aging. Related Articles

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