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healthy eating

Healthy Eating Habits

Healthy Food – Let Food be your Friend

It has been interesting to observe how my body changed when I “flourished” into my 40s.  All of a sudden what I could get away with eating in my 20s and 30s no longer applied and I realised the importance of eating healthy food.

My body began to redistribute weight differently and a muffin top started to present itself over my jeans.  As I sat in the bath contemplating this new part of myself,  I knew that I needed to address and embrace new eating habits that were better suited to a midlife woman, and fluctuating hormones.  A cavalier attitude with my diet was not cutting it at all. Perimenopause had arrived and menopause was knocking at the door.

There is much evidence to support the true fact that the amount of energy that we burn while resting, drops off by the age of 30 and then a further 7% each decade after that.

Common sense points to the fact that of course if we eat exactly the same in our 40s and beyond as we did in our 20s and 30s weight would start to creep on. Not eating healthy food was no longer an option.  Have you noticed your waist bands getting tighter? your bra bulges increasing?  It doesn’t happen overnight though it may seem that way when you finally notice these things.

Bottom line – you need fewer calories than you did when you were younger

With midlife comes other concerns and issues such as risk of heart disease, diabetes, that with increased cholesterol levels, sedentary lifestyles, poor eating choices is a recipe for disaster.

cholesterol

There is no need to feel deprived when you choose to eat healthy food there are many tasty substitutes out there for you.  Don’t focus on the things you can’t eat, but on all of the things you can.

Eating healthier is easier than you think.  How about adding some spinach to to your eggs, or enjoy raw carrots, cauliflower and celery with some hummus as a snack.  Fill your plate with lots of roasted delicious veggies. Raw unsalted almonds and walnuts make a great snack too.

What is a Healthy Diet?

In the younger years you may have followed various different diets or ways of eating in a desire to “look good”, however this attitude shifts in the 40s and beyond towards a necessity to be healthy and look good.

But what is a healthy diet?  What are you supposed to eat or indeed not eat in your midlife and beyond years?  There is so much conflicting information out there now that no wonder you don’t know what to believe any longer.

One of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is to give up or at least restrict sugar in your diet. Did you know that sugar is eight times addictive as cocaine?

Giving up Sugar

When you go shopping, check the food labels and avoid any that have sugar in the first three ingredients.  Giving up sugar may be difficult at first and you may experience cravings, however these generally disappear after a few weeks have passed.  During this time please do not try to substitute your sugar intake by using artificial sweeteners, you may wish to try Xylitol or Stevia (made of plants).

Supplementation is important at this time in your life and there are many excellent supplements out there that may help you. Chat with your local health store and ask them to recommend the best supplements for you. Sugar also causes your blood glucose levels to rise sharply and then to crash which will leave you feeling drained and tired.  Sugar certainly has negative effects on your overall wellbeing and impacts your life significantly.

Moving into Menopause

You may find that as you move into the menopause that hot flushes are making themselves known, generally at the most inconvenient times and it is no fun having a hot flush mid conversation at work or otherwise.  There are certain food groups that trigger or worsen hot flushes and now is the time to remove these from your diet as they are over stimulating:

Coffee

Spicy foods

Alcohol

alcohol

Don’t forget your bones! Eating good sources of protein that contains tryptophan is important.  Include cottage cheese, turkey, legumes and oats. Tryptophan helps to make serotonin which is very helpful in controlling moods, appetite and sleep.

Healthy Food Groups

There are some food groups that are excellent for you at this time in your life, one of them being oats.  Oats is good news for cholesterol and the heart as it contains beta-glucans that helps reduce the unwanted form of cholesterol.  Having oats in the diet also protects against the build of plaque on artery walls.  Are you ready to start eating your porridge now?

EVIDENCE

It has been concluded by researchers that eating just 3g of oats every day helps to reduce cholesterol by 5 to 10% and the risk of heart disease lowers.  Great news for midlife.

OILY FISH

healthy food fish oils

Full of Omega 3 fats and great in helping to lower blood pressure, heart rate and reducing the risk of irregular heartbeats.  Choose wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, tuna and herring.  Be careful in your method of cooking as omega 3 fats are sensitive to high temperatures, so steam lightly or cook on a low temperature.

We have just scratched the surface of eating healthy food in your 40s and beyond.  If you want to learn more then why not visit the Flourish Beyond 40 Guidance and Support page and shop where you are able to browse various ways of helping yourself back to health, and the options of joining the Flourish Beyond 40 Programme and Facebook community.

You may also like to read about weight and exercise in midlife and beyond and managing stress.

 

 

 

 

 

Midlife

Stress Management and Feeling More Relaxed

Stress is something that we all need to be aware of a feeling that is almost unavoidable. Life is so busy these days and for many high stress levels become a normal and natural feeling.

For many people a typical day begins with an unhealthy breakfast snatched quickly on the way to work.  Time spent trawling hundreds of emails or dealing with Social Media.  Add in to that mix responsibilities of home and family commitments and a long commute.  No wonder stress levels are high.

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it” – Sydney J. Harris

It is almost impossible to avoid stress impacting your life.  The most important thing we can do for ourselves is learning to recognise when those stress levels are rising and how to manage stress to live life in a more peaceful way.

There are so many tools and solutions available to help handle stress levels, and small steps may make a big difference as to how you feel, but it is not one-size-fits-all.  What works for one person does not necessarily work for all.  Why not start to implement  new stress management techniques each week, try it on for size, see how it feels, then try another.  You will know what works for you personally.

One of the best gifts to give yourself is to learn what your stress triggers are, and to deal with these effectively and well without allowing your stress levels to rise to dangerous health-damaging levels.

Here are some tips that you can apply immediately to your life:

  • Stop multitasking. Focus on doing what one thing at a time, and keep your mind focused solely on that. If you really need to multi-task then set out a specific time in your day to do so, perhaps for an hour and get it over and done with. Seung Sahn, a Korean Zen Master,told his students “when reading only read. When eating, only eat.  When thinking, only think.  Embracing mindfulness, staying present and living in the moment you are in is a great way to move you away from the ‘busyness’ of life.
  • Make a habit of writing things down. Quite often when your mind is “over full” it is easy to forget important things.  As you do this you no longer have to constantly worry about something you feel you may have forgotten.
  • If you are fond of writing to do lists, then keep them suitably short and realistic. Looking at a long list of things to complete increases stress which is exactly the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
  • Prioritise what needs to be done immediately and what can be done at another time.
  • Organise yourself well. More often than not you will know what you will be doing the next day.  Make sure your clothes are ironed and ready to wear.  Have your breakfast dishes on the table. Leave everything you need out and ready just before leaving the house such as car keys, handbag, umbrella, scarf and gloves.  Have your shoes ready at the door.  A lot of stress is created in the morning as people rush around looking for things they cannot find.
  • Wake up fifteen minutes earlier so that you can take your time in a more peaceful way.
  • If you work from home it is important that you take small breaks throughout the day, particularly if you are working at your computer. A balance of 45 minutes work and 15 minutes away helps to keep your energy levels up and your mind clear.
  • Ensure that your work and rest time is balanced.
  • Engage and communicate properly with your loved ones in your time off. Listen to what they have to say, enjoy your time spent with them.  Completely disconnect from work. If you can, put your phone on silent when you are off work.  Be present with those that are important to you.  Spending time thinking about work while with loved ones is both unfair and unnecessary.
  • Delegate as much as you can whenever you can, so that you have more time to do the things that you love.
  • Keep your environment clutter free. Keep a Zen-like space to allow fresh energy to continue to flow, keeping your mind away from distractions.
  • Turn down the noise of Social Media. How many times do you find yourself checking the newsfeed on Facebook only to find that you are still on it half an hour later?  Are you caught up in being oversubscribed to podcasts, blogs newsletters, webinars and so on? This can be very stressful indeed.  Start to unsubscribe to anything that is no longer useful to you or your goals. Doing this frees up your time to spend doing things that have more value and enjoyment.
  • Stay tuned into your body. Be aware of aches, pains and uncomfortable niggles.  Stress also presents itself as physical symptoms.  Learn to recognize when you are starting to feel drained and tired before you become exhausted and fatigued.  Take time to take care of you and your needs.
  • It is okay to be perfectly imperfect. Does perfection really exist?  It is a different concept for everyone.  Do your best and move on. When you need help do not be afraid to ask for it.
  • Have someone you can trust to talk to. It is a true saying “a problem shared is a problem halved”.
  • Breathe properly. When people are stressed they have a tendency to shallow-breathe from the chest.  Take a few deep breaths from the belly, breathing in relaxation and breathing out stress.

 

Keep yourself on track by asking yourself the following key questions:

  1. Is what I am doing moving me towards my goals or away from them?
  2. For what purpose am I choosing to think/be/behave this way?
  3. What can I do right now that is more important?
  4. Will this really matter one year, five years, 10 years from now?

 

S.E.E. the three simple fundamentals of keeping stress at bay:

  • Sleep enough
  • Eat well
  • Exercise regularlyIMG_3197

If you have enjoyed reading this blog, why not download the free relaxation recording we have available on www.flourishbeyond40.com.

If you want to learn more about stress and some excellent strategies, techniques and solutions to help you in life, then why not download our Managing Stress Module, packed with wonderful helpful information to take you from where you are to where you want to be.

Have a fabulous stress free day!

 

Isobel McArthur

Founder of Flourish Beyond 40

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