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By Jeanne Novas, MD Jeanne Novas MD color

All of us struggle with weight especially during our hormone changes, i.e. pregnancy/postpartum and menopause. Here are a few tips and options, hope it helps with this difficult topic!

There are no fads, no magic pills, or best ways. You need to tailor your weight loss to you – do you need planned meals? Are you a stress eater? Do you go to extremes – all in or all out? Do you hate to exercise? Are you a convenience eater? Do you have a fast-paced life/no time? Tailor your diet to you.

Sleep is important – you must get 7-9 hours. Exercise needs to be a part of the diet – lower calories can lower your metabolism, so you need to add the exercise. Lose 5-10% of your weight over 3-6 months. Do it slowly. Less weight on your body means you burn less with the same exercise – increase a bit as you lose the weight. Get the stress out of your life as best you can. Stress causes you to reach for high fat, high calorie foods and releases cortisol.

What to eat – Mediterranean, low carb, plant based? How about a combo – avoid sugar, white flour, high fat, use lots of vegetables and fruits – the fiber will fill you and has less calories. Do smaller amounts of meat and do low fats like fish and chicken. Legumes, small portions of nuts, olive oil and avocado. Choose complex carbs such as brown rice and grains vs. white rice and high grain bread vs. white bread. Gluten-free foods often have higher carb and calorie counts – watch that.

Dairy-free diets have some drawbacks. Greek plain yogurts and fermented cheeses have good probiotics – just watch the portion size. Typically, lactose is fermented out, and these foods add probiotics, thus helping your gut “microbial”. A variety of foods like a buffet tends to increase your appetite. Watch portions of higher calorie foods but increase with the low-cal vegetables. Be calorie “aware”. Be portion size “aware”. Slow your eating down – it takes 20 minutes to feel full. Avoid processed and fast foods. Some of us may need a prepared diet meal or shake, but it is best to eat “real” vegetables, fruits, grains and cook with small amounts of low-fat meats and olive oil.

Intermittent fasting: Blue zone groups are areas in the world with many 90-100 year-olds who are healthy. They are studied for their habits to help others. The Seventh Day Adventists eat only breakfast and lunch and are a blue zone group – studies show weight loss with this and lowering of blood pressure, even without the weight loss. The fasting signals your body to open your fat stores for energy. Some of us may not be able to do any fasting due to metabolism issues like PCOS and insulin resistance.

Healthy diets require time, planning and commitment – be accountable to your plan. Try your best coping mechanisms to help with your weight loss plan. Even if you are not losing, you are so much healthier!

Meds that have helped are Contrave® – mood improved with dopamine release and also works on the appetite center of your brain. Wegovy® is a weekly shot that works like a diabetic med – especially good for those with PCOS-metabolic disorder often with menstrual irregularities. It is meant more for larger weight loss needs.

Midlife midriff bulge – we all get it, and we need to lower stress, sleep more and exercise more. Metabolism drops with menopause and age – so should your caloric intake. Even 100 calories a day can make a difference over time.

Maintaining your weight is always the biggest challenge. If you gain, don’t wait too long to get it off. Your body makes your max weight a set point – it wants to go back there! Don’t be discouraged by slow loss – you are still healthier even if just maintaining.

We have a Nutritionist available for virtual appointments. Discuss your plan with your doc and get routine care. See us for your annual checkup or consult – we can help guide you. Consider testing for metabolic syndromes such as PCOS and insulin resistance, hormone levels, thyroid and vitamin deficiencies. Take the time and effort for your best health – your diet, sleep and exercise are important!