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Guest Post: Diet for the Decades – Your Best Diet at 40


This is the third in a series of guest posts by Elizabeth Somer, Registered Dietitian and author of Age-Proof Your Body. Previous posts addressed your best diet at 20 and at 30. While I can still claim a 3 in my age, it’s only a few short years until I hit the big 4-0 myself. Getting a glimpse at how my body may change, as described in this post, is a great head’s up about some changes I’ll need to be making. I hope that it helps you, too, whichever side of 40 you find yourself on.

The 40s: Middle-Aged Spread, The Calorie Drop, Pre-menopause

A woman’s nutritional needs are as unique as her smile, the color of her eyes, or her sense of humor. Those needs change as she ventures through life, navigating the childbearing years, approaching menopause, and entering the golden years. Luckily, most of the 40+ nutrients a woman’s body needs throughout life are met by simply eating lots of wholesome foods, such as whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, cooked dried beans and peas, and nonfat milk products. But, we need to tailor these basic good-eating habits to meet the specific nutritional needs of each stage in life.

1) Middle Age Spread: After 40, women start losing approximately 1% to 2% of muscle mass every year, which equates to a 5 to 10 pound loss of muscle every decade. The loss of muscle slows metabolism, so you’re likely to notice excess weight. If you don’t nip this trend in the bud, it will progress until you not only can’t lift the grocery bag, you can’t get out of the easy chair without help. This is the time to start a muscle-building program, if you haven’t already. In addition, studies show that people who divide their food intake into little meals and snacks have an easier time managing their weight.

What to do: That doesn’t mean adding more food to your daily intake, but rather spreading your food intake out so you have the toast, peanut butter and OJ for breakfast and save the yogurt and blueberries for a mid-morning snack. Or you have the turkey sandwich and nonfat milk for lunch and save the apple and nuts for a mid-afternoon snack.

2) Heart Disease: While most women list cancer at the top of their health concerns, a woman’s greatest health threat is actually heart disease, which escalates in the middle years. Low saturated fat and cholesterol diets are more important than ever, as are high-fiber foods such as beans (that contain a host of heart-healthy compounds such as saponins, phytosterols, and phytoestrogens), the omega-3 fats in fish and foods fortified with the omega-3 fat DHA, and the monounsaturated fats in olive oil.

What to do: Be sure to include the following into your daily diet — soymilk fortified with omega-3 DHA, fiber and calcium, kidney beans, black beans, navy beans and garbanzo beans; and olive oil.

3) Pre-menopause: Some women also may be experiencing pre-menopause. To help curb hot flashes, you must exercise every day, watch out for foods that aggravate the flash, and increase your intake of foods that might help curb symptoms. Avoid coffee and spicy foods, all of which alter blood flow and can increase the symptoms of hot flashes. Be careful of what herb teas you drink. Some herbs, such as black cohosh or dong quai, cause blood vessel dilation and could aggravate a hot flash. On the other hand, while the research is sketchy at best, some women swear that increasing their intakes of soy has helped curb their hot flashes.

What to do: Add soy foods to your diet including soymilk, tofu and edemame. As an added bonus, cook with soymilk to make muffins and other baked goods.

Sounds like soy is something to boost in your diet. Want to win 8th Continent Complete Soymilk? Go here to enter.

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Comments

  1. Great info for women suffering from night sweats and hot flashes. I think there is so much people can do with diet to help these menopausal symptoms.

  2. I am in my late forties and peri-menpausal, and have fibroids, which means the oestrogen in my diet are the culprit. Soy is a great source of oestrogen and harmful at this age. Would appreciate a fibroid inhibiting diet from Elizabeth Somar. Thanks!

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Guest Post: Diet for the Decades – Your Best Diet at 30


The following guest post is provided by Elizabeth Somer, M.A., R.D. and author of the book, Age-Proof Your Body: Your Complete Guide to Looking and Feeling Younger.

Last week she offered dietary suggestions for all you twentysomethings, such as the importance of iron and folic acid in your diet. In this section, addressed to women in their 30s, she refers to the idea of “living on the brink of chaos” at all times. Can’t I relate to that? I hope that you find something helpful in her post today.

We know that nutrition is a debatable topic. Experts in the field can differ in their opinions on certain subjects and this changes over the years. So, I hope that you will look at these posts as a opportunity for learning and thinking and as a prompting to do your own research on the things that interest you most. Here’s what Elizabeth has to say to women in their 30s:

A woman’s nutritional needs are as unique as her smile, the color of her eyes, or her sense of humor. Those needs change as she ventures through life, navigating the childbearing years, approaching menopause, and entering the golden years. Luckily, most of the 40+ nutrients a woman’s body needs throughout life are met by simply eating lots of wholesome foods, such as whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, cooked dried beans and peas, and nonfat milk products. But, we need to tailor these basic good-eating habits to meet the specific nutritional needs of each stage in life.

The 30s: Stress/Convenience Foods, The Pill, Calcium – Part Two

Women in their 30s, whether they are working, mothering, or both, are living on the brink of chaos at all times. Their nutritional needs are high during times of stress, but they don’t believe they have the time to eat well. The nutrition issues here are:

1) Stress/Convenience Foods: For lack of time, women grab quick-fix foods that typically are high in fat, sugar, or calories. According to the latest stats from USDA, women today are averaging 31 teaspoons of refined sugar daily, while fat intake is on the rise. Instead of grabbing the colas and the sweets, grab healthy snacks. And hey, it’s a myth that eating well must take more time. If you have time to pull up to a drive-through window or order take out, you have time to eat well.

What to do: A breakfast of whole grain cereal, Heritage Foods Organic nonfat milk with omega-3 DHA, and fruit takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. Dinner is as easy as broiled salmon or chicken, a sweet potato in the microwave, and a bagged salad.

2) The Pill: The birth control pill can affect the absorption and use of several nutrients, including vitamin B6. This vitamin is important in the regulation of the nerve chemical serotonin, so a low level of B6 might help explain some of the emotional ups and downs women experience on the pill.

What to do: You don’t need to take another pill, just add more vitamin B6-rich foods to your diet, such as chicken breast, bananas, avocados, assortment of nuts and whole grains such as whole wheat bread and brown rice.

3) Calcium: A woman builds bone tissue until her mid-30s. After that, she gradually begins to lose bone. The more bone density she builds now, the greater her bank account and the less likely she is to develop osteoporosis later in life. This is her last chance to put calcium into that bank account with calcium-rich yogurt or calcium-fortified OJ, yet many women are still averaging one-half to two-thirds their calcium needs.

What to do: Three servings a day, girls! If you can’t drink that much OJ, then consider supplements or drinking 8th Continent Complete Soymilk that is fortified with calcium, omega-3 DHA and fiber.

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Comments

  1. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says:

    Great post! I like to have things like string cheese and whole grain granola bars for when I do need to eat on the go. I didn't know that about the pill & B vitamins!

  2. Thanks so much for this informative article. As a young mama in her 30s, I’m noticing a few things that just didn’t happen in my 20s. I will still be young when my kids leave the nest. I want to take the time now to invest in my health for the future.

  3. topaztook says:

    I hope next week’s guest post will cover those of us whose last birthday was the big 4-0. 🙂

    If you are still taking nutrition questions, this post brings up one that confuses me: soy, good or bad? I have a family history of breast cancer, and I’ve heard that it can increase the risk of that disease — but then I keep hearing that’s it’s good for you.

  4. Sigh – I’ll be in my 30s in just 2 months, so I guess this is the article for me! This is a great series, I’ve been working on overhauling my diet lately to make sure I enter my next decade on the right foot.

  5. Mary Ann says:

    I’m enjoying this series and am especially interested in this week’s post since the 30’s is where I am!

    Thanks for this!

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

Share Your Thoughts

*