Perimenopause, which refers to the months and years leading up to menopause, can be a huge proponent of weight gain. Nutritionist Karen Newby spoke exclusively to Express.co.uk about which foods perimenopausal women should stock up on – and which they should avoid – to avoid becoming overweight in this stage of life.
On average in the UK, perimenopause begins at around the age of 45.
Karen’s “whole premise” when it comes to food and weight loss is that “diets and calorie counting doesn’t work” because it’s “unsustainable”.
However, there are a few things that women in perimenopause should be mindful of during their weekly shop if they want to banish excess fat.
She exclusively told Express.co.uk: “In perimenopause, there are things that aren’t that helpful for you.
“One of those is caffeine. Another one is alcohol. And another one is sugar.”
She added: “But I’m not going to suddenly say to my patients, ‘Don’t eat and drink all of those things’.”
“What I do is I try to rewire the brain so you don’t actually crave a glass of wine every evening. And it’s the same with caffeine and sugar.”
Karen’s top tip for perimenopausal women is to “eat more plants”.
“When I say plants, I mean vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, legumes and pulses.”
Karen encouraged them to eat “30 unique plants”.
“Plants are so full of minerals and vitamins and fibre that we need in abundance.”
Additionally, with perimenopause being classified as an inflammatory event and plants as anti-inflammatory, consuming enough fruit and veg is important “if you’re suffering from lots of aches and pains” too.
In contrast, meat, sugar, processed foods, dairy, alcohol and gluten are inflammatory, and should be consumed sparingly.
Karen continued that, interestingly, for perimenopausal women, it’s not a balanced diet that is beneficial for them but rather a “therapeutic” one.
High fibre plants are “really important for weight loss”.
Karen explained: “If you have lots of fibrous foods that helps the stretch receptors on the stomach feel more satisfied so you don’t have to eat so much.”
As for her ideal “perimenopausal shopping list”, the nutritionist suggested: “Not only should you be eating more plants, you should be eating more brassicas, and by brassicas I mean cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale and sprouts.
“They all have a compound in them called indole-3-carbinol which helps to detoxify oestrogen – the liver loves brassicas.”
Karen also recommended oily fish such as mackerel, trout, salmon, linseed oil and nuts and seeds.
But what should an average plate of food look like, according to the expert?
“25 percent of your plate needs to be protein rich foods, and then half your plate, twice a day if you can, should be vegetables and fruits.
“Protein, found in fish eggs, meats, legumes, pulses, tofu, tempeh, beans, nuts, seeds and quinoa, is the building blocks of the body and we need them in abundance to help support lean muscle mass.
While Karen does not advocate for totally banishing any foods, her principle is: “If you switch people’s mindsets so that everything that is going into their mouth is nutrient dense, those c****y food choices don’t really happen.”