40 can be a big milestone for many, and physiologically a lot of changes start to happen for women. Read on for my key advice that I share with my clients.
The value of water should not be underestimated. You absolutely should be drinking a minimum of 1.5 - 2 litres a day. Coffee, tea* and alcohol are all diuretics, increasing water loss which leads to dehydration, decreased energy and can also severely impact your cognitive function.
Did you know that sometimes hunger pains are your body’s way of shouting that it’s thirsty? If you feel this way and you’ve recently eaten, suggest having a big drink of water. Chances are the hunger will go away and you’ll also realise how thirsty you are.
*Zero caffeine herbal teas are excluded - fresh mint, peppermint, camomile, dandelion root are all great ways to up water intake, especially when it’s cold!
Reduce refined carbohydrates - yes that means bread, pasta, bagels, biscuits, cakes. Swap for whole grains and complex carbohydrates such as brown rice, sweet potato, quinoa, buckwheat and oats. This is to minimise spikes in blood sugar; refined carbohydrates are very quickly converted into glucose by the body, spiking insulin levels. This continuous spike can lead to insulin resistance which is the precursor for weight gain and Diabetes Type 2.
Complex carbohydrates are just that, complex, so take longer for the body to break down, meaning there is a slow but continuous amount of energy being released. They also keep you full longer, which reduces the need to snack.
Don’t skip meals. It can be a tendency for women approaching middle age to start skipping meals as a way to cut calories, however this is one of the worst things you can do as it plays havoc with your hormones. The key here is the old adage of 3 square meals a day, BUT they must be nutritiously dense and packed with fibre.
It’s impossible to overeat vegetables, fruit, beans and wholegrains - your body will signal that it has enough nutrients and fibre and tell you it's full, so don’t worry. Bulk up healthy meals with grains such as couscous or quinoa, throw beans such as lentils and chickpeas into every meal and add in complex carbs such as sweet potato or bananas. You will feel satisfied for longer, and all the fibre will ensure your gut is performing at 100%. This will lead to an increased metabolism, faster weight loss and aid detoxification of excess hormones.
Don’t avoid the good fat. If you’re unsure what they are and avoid all fats, it’s time to read on!
Good fats are vital for healthy brain function, cell reproduction, aids in reducing inflammation and vital to hormone balance, so should not be missed from your daily diet.
Good fats are sometimes labelled as Omega 3, 6 or 9 or as essential fatty acids. They are found in oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, oysters), walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, olive oil and flaxseeds.
Exercise is the glue - it will help all your good habits stick. We’re all familiar with the benefits of exercise - lowers blood pressure and stress levels, improves metabolism and sleep, increases daily energy, strengthens bones…
But one of the secret benefits of exercise is that it provides motivation to continue making healthy food choices. If you’ve just been out for a lovely walk, you’re less likely to overindulge later in the day because you’ve put the effort in to exercise, and internally your body is less likely to crave sugar or carbs. If you are famished post exercise, ensure it’s a protein rich meal to aid in muscle recovery: a hard boiled egg, salad with your choice of protein (tofu, salmon, chicken) or jacket sweet potato with bean chili mix.
Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise 3x a week, and try to make it something you enjoy; long walks outside, fun dance class, yoga or pilates, working out along with YouTube videos or joining the kids in the yard. It all counts.
If you interested in learning more about easy daily habits to maximise health in your 40's, you can book in with me for a free consultation and find out how I can help you today.
Registered Nutritional Therapist
Kelly is a Registered Nutritional Therapist who focuses on positive physical and mental wellbeing, achieved through diet, lifestyle, sleep and exercise. Having struggled for years with IBS and hormonal imbalance, and increasingly frustrated with the lack of support and helpful advice from her GP, Kelly began her own journey of healing the body from the inside out. After seeing huge improvements she quit her job to study nutrition and focus on harnessing the healing powers of food to help other people in similar situations.