If you’re over the age of 40, there are diet changes you’ll probably need to make. Around the age of 40, people start to notice that keeping off excess weight is more difficult for you than it’s ever been before. That’s because women in their 40s generally start to experience a decline in estrogen and metabolism as part of the natural aging process. Without regular exercise and good nutrition, these factors can increase the risk of weight gain, along with heart disease, osteoporosis, and cognitive problems.
If you’re over the age of 40, try making some of the following diet changes to stay healthy for years to come.
1. Reduce your sodium intake
Sodium often lurks in the most unexpected foods, and can trigger or worsen bloating. Many baked goods and processed foods are high in salt and sodium — including salad dressings, condiments, and your favorite frozen meals. Start reading ingredient labels, and avoid foods that contain high amounts of sodium.
2. Eat the majority of your calories earlier in the day
Instead of eating a light breakfast and a heavy dinner, do the opposite and eat the majority of your food earlier in the day. Those who spread out snacks and meals between the hours of noon and midnight are more likely to suffer weight gain and higher cholesterol than those who load up earlier in the day. Eating earlier helps boost your metabolism and energy levels, while eating later in the evening can trigger weight gain.
3. Boost your protein intake
Women over 40 are at higher risk for osteoporosis due to loss of bone and muscle mass. But protein helps you preserve and build lean muscle to stave off excess fat and bone loss. Aim to consume at least 30 grams of protein at every meal in the form of beans, lentils, fish, chicken, and eggs.
4. Load up on leafy greens
Leafy greens are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients that prevent cognitive decline and illness, and that boost your energy and metabolism. Eat more leafy greens by adding them to stir-fry meals, smoothies, and omelets.
5. Get more calcium
Declining estrogen levels and bone loss can make it difficult for many women over 40 to absorb calcium. Try to consume around 1,000 milligrams of calcium every day in the form of leafy greens, Greek yogurt, and nutritional supplementation.
6. Eat more healthy fats
Healthy fats lend to improved circulation and blood flow, which can accelerate weight loss and reduce the risk for heart disease. Consume a higher amount of healthy fats in the form of nuts, oily fish, and avocados.
7. Consume at least two servings of fatty fish per week
Fatty, oily fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids that improve heart health while also lowering the risk for cognition and vision problems. Aim to eat a minimum of two servings of fatty fish per week in addition to consuming other healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oil.
8. Experiment more with balsamic vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is loaded with compounds that protect arteries from damaging free radicals, and that improve cardiovascular health to lower the risk for heart disease. Make a variety of homemade dressings containing balsamic vinegar, and drizzle them on salads, roasted vegetables, and whole-grain breads.
9. Add soy to your diet
Soy products are high in natural plant estrogens that lower the risk for osteoporosis and heart disease in women. Look for soy products like tofu, soy milk, and tempeh that are minimally processed, and that contain few additives and artificial ingredients. Stay away from soy products that are heavily processed and contain lots of fillers, such as soy hot dogs and soy protein bars.
10. Try quinoa
This healthy whole grain is high in fiber and protein — both of which drive weight loss while maintaining your energy levels. Use quinoa as a stuffing for zucchini and squash, or eat it for breakfast topped with fresh berries or an egg.
Need help losing weight and getting your diet back on track? Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers offer personalized weight-loss plans with consistent, professional support to help you reach and maintain your goal weight. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on November 10, 2017