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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 September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

More About Working From Home

Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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