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8 Top Reasons For Ditching Processed Carbs In The Menopause

8 Top Reasons For Ditching Processed Carbs In The Menopause

My menopause journey began shortly after the birth of my second child. I was 38 years of age and for the first time found myself struggling to lose the weight I had put on. I did not have any trouble losing weight after my first child at the age of 36, but in a few short years, my body was starting to change; little did I know it was the Big Change!

At the time, I considered myself to be eating well and was reasonably active. Being a mum to two young boys as well as running a business did not leave much time for exercise. Meals had to be prepared fast so for me that meant a lot of processed breakfast cereals for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta dishes in the evening.

Processed cereals included quinoa flakes with soy milk, brown bread for lunch and whole meal pasta for dinner. I was getting in my recommend 6-11 servings of bread, rice and pasta with a smattering of fruit and vegetables (sandwich fillings, pasta sauces). I was following the guidelines but knew that something was wrong.

I was tired, irritable and short tempered. No matter how much sleep I had I wanted more. I was getting bigger and bigger and was denying myself any “treats” due to my ever expanding waistline.

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And then I read something that changed my life forever. As a woman’s oestrogen levels decrease, so too does her tolerance for carbohydrates. This is due to the fact that decreasing levels of estrogen lead to insulin resistance and impaired carbohydrate tolerance.

Insulin sensitivity is your body’s ability to use carbs for fuel, instead of storing them as fat. So reduced insulin sensitivity means that you’re more likely to gain weight, especially in areas you never had a problem with before menopause, aka belly fat.

One of the easiest ways to manage decreased insulin sensitivity and avoid the weight gain that comes with it is to re-evaluate your carb tolerance and adjust your meals accordingly.

My 8 Top Reasons For Ditching Processed Carbs

1. Not all carbs are equal

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Choosing other sources of carbohydrates such as fresh fruit and vegetable assists in maintaining a healthy colon. Constipation is a common complaint as women age and the fiber content found in green leafy vegetables helps to keep constipation at bay.

2. Fight fatigue

Processed carbs tend to cause a spike in your blood glucose levels, which will eventually crash; leaving you feeling fatigued, tired and drained.

3. Eat less “quick” carbs and spend more time on food quality.

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As we grow older, our body requires fewer calories to sustain it. I now find myself eating less as I sit down to eat, thus leaving some of the meal to be used the following day. This saves time and allows for a lunch on the go the following day.

4. Ease hormonal imbalance

Hormonal imbalances are one of the most common issues that result from menopause. Certain foods contain phyto-oestrogens, which are oestrogenic compounds that regulate and restore hormonal balance. A diet rich in phyto-oestrogens helps to minimise hot flushes/flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Such foods include sunflower seeds, linseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkins seeds, celery, green beans and rhubarb.

5. Know that eating that muffin is not going to bring you happiness.

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We often crave foods with associations to happy times we’ve had in the past. I am not suggesting that you have to forego treats forever. By all means enjoy a treat or two each week, but do be aware that if you are looking for a pick-me-up in the form of a chocolate cake or muffin, you will have a crash landing two hours or so later when your blood sugar levels come back down.

6. Save money

It never ceases to amaze me when people first start buying more fruit and vegetables; the first thing they complain about is the cost. Dollar for dollar, if you cut down on the amount of processed food and increase your carbs with more fruit and vegetable I can assure you the cost is not higher at the end of the week, but rather you will save money.

7. Decrease stomach bloating

Highly processed, carbs are usually packed with artificial sweeteners, which are linked to promoting bloating and stomach discomfort when eaten in excess. Eating more green vegetables will aid in decreasing bloating. Be prepared though if you previously followed a diet low in fibre and then significantly increase your fibre intake, you may initially experience some bloating. Once your body adjusts, however, you should experience less bloating and abdominal discomfort.

8. More facts on bloating
Processed carbs often contain high sources of sodium, which causes water retention and bloating, however, potassium counterbalances sodium and has a diuretic effect. So by eating foods high in potassium such as oranges, bananas, papayas, kiwis, strawberries, spinach, rocket, and cooked beets—you can reduce bloating naturally.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

“Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. When tiredness is persistent, however — when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get— it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here’re some of the most common causes of fatigue:

1. Dehydration

If you want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions.

If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energising oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

You cannot cure this crash with caffeine – the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

2. Lack Of Exercise

A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

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Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of our everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

3. A Poor Diet

The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by pizza or cheese.

Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

4. Skipping Breakfast

Physician Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

Ingesting food signals to your brain that there is enough food available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

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Some great ideas for a healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

Or if meal-prepping isn’t your think, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

5. Poor Quality Of Sleep

We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed. But did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is.

TO feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time. And before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to prepare for a restful night.

Read more about how to develop a routine that will get you better sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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6. Sleep Apnea (A Person’s Airways Get Blocked off While They Are Asleep)

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while they are asleep. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing as well as the use of a special breathing machine to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

7. Depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling and lifestyle changes like stress management to help manage this condition. You can take a look at these 15 Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness.

Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

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8. Hypothyroidism

If a person has hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of these important hormones— and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain and feeling cold all the time.

Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills like Synthroid. Check here for signs of having a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

9. Anemia

People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements or B-12 shots.

While here are some drinks you can try to relieve symptoms of Anemia, it’s best to do a blood test and consult your doctor in case of any hidden medical conditions.

10. Cancer

While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surround tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

Diagnosis is usually by biopsy and treatment often focusses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery— and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

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