Menopause is defined as lack of menstrual periods for 12 consecutive months. During this transition, women can experience uncomfortable symptoms such as weight gain, hot flashes, and changes in blood glucose levels. This natural process usually starts in women after 40 years of age.

During “perimenopause,” or when starting to experience symptoms of menopause, the hormones estrogen and progesterone begin fluctuating. These hormonal changes may also contribute to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, and those with diabetes can experience unexpected highs and lows in their blood sugars. The doctor may recommend checking blood sugars more regularly or adjusting medications to help prevent complications.

Before, during, or after menopause, some women also experience weight gain. At this point in life, they probably want to start dieting or have tried dieting in the past without much success. The problem is that many popular diets are centered around restriction that leave dieters with low energy, hungry, and unsatisfied with their food choices. This is a big factor why dieters “quit” and are unable to achieve long-term weight loss.

Advice from The Certified Diabetes Educator

Instead of going on another diet, aim to become a healthier, happier and fitter person. Focus on nourishing the body instead of depriving it. Follow a “non-diet” approach for healthy eating.

Here are 5 ways to try a “non-diet diet” to kick-start a lifestyle that is more active and with cleaner eating habits.

1. Eat fruits and vegetables every day 

People who eat vegetables and fruits tend to weigh less. Fruits and veggies contain few calories but a lot of fiber. Their high-water content gives them low energy density, making them very filling.

2. Reduce added sugars

Consuming too much sugar and can increase blood sugar levels and more often than not, foods with added sugars have plenty of calories. Cut back on added sugar, especially from fruit juice and soda. Eat whole fruit, but avoid fruit juice or soda altogether.

3. Add fiber to meals

Fiber nourishes healthy probiotic gut bacteria and improves digestion. The amount of fiber you need depends on your age and gender: 21 grams for women over 50 or 25 grams if younger, and 28 grams for men over 50 or 30 grams if younger.

4. Start Exercising

Aerobic exercise (cardio) is an excellent way to burn calories and improve your physical and mental health. It appears to be particularly effective for losing belly fat, the unhealthy fat that tends to build up around your organs and cause metabolic disease.

5. Eat more mindfully and respect body’s internal cues

It’s not always necessary to count calories, fat, or grams of carbs to lose weight. Understanding our eating habits by pausing and reflecting before meals can help not only understand why we are eating but also in making the decision to eat or not.

The last piece of advice I share for those women who are experiencing menopause and weight gain is to don’t let the scale determine your worth. Stop the habit of getting on the scale all the time; it can run your day. Instead, every morning in front of the mirror, look at yourself, take in beauty before you and consider reprogramming the negative talk around body image, weight, and diabetes.

Women, instead of hating your body during menopause, love it. Remember that your perfect imperfections, like any great work of art, is what makes you a masterpiece.