Finding yourself eating more in quarantine? Try mindful eating.

be eat move Apr 24, 2020

Have you found yourself more “snacky” in quarantine? Are you reaching for all sorts of foods that you usually wouldn’t eat? If so, take heart in the fact that you’re not alone - it seems that most people I’ve talked to have had a significant change in their eating and drinking habits while in lockdown.

Before I go on, I need to point out that I am not a trained mental health professional or dietician and that those with problematic or disordered eating should seek out professional help. I also need to recognize and acknowledge the sometimes negative impact that my industry has had on the eating habits and body image of women. What I can offer is observations from a lengthy career in healthy living, which has included examining many food and diet fads.

I would have to write for days to outline all of the dieting trends that I have seen come and go, but here’s the hard truth – none of them tend to work long-term for most of the population.

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How going plant-based can help with symptoms of menopause.

eat Jan 31, 2020

If you’re a fan of the Age Sister Facebook page or you are a member of our private group, you might have noticed that I post a lot of vegetarian recipes. I spent many, many years as a vegetarian and still have a very “plant-heavy” diet. It’s because of my habit of eating more vegetarian options that I was interested to know if women who eat less meat have an easier time managing menopausal symptoms. As always, I turned to the scientific research to find out.

Vegetarian diets are usually considered to be healthier than the typical North American diet filled with processed food and lots of meat. There isn’t, however, conclusive evidence that an entirely vegetarian or vegan diet has significant benefits when compared to a plant-based, low meat diet in the general population. However, for women over 50, a vegan or vegetarian diet may make a difference in managing symptoms and weight-gain related to menopause. Here’s how:

Dealing with the internal...

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Achy joints over 50? The causes may suprise you.

eat lift move Sep 20, 2019

This week goes out to one of my favourite Age Sisters, Gail, who asked me to write about the association between menopause and joint pain. I have to be honest - these are two things that I had never linked together. Intrigued, I set out to find out more about the pain and menopause connection.

The research

When I searched through the research, what I found was a collection of studies about something called “menopausal arthralgia”. This phenomenon is thought to occur around the time of menopause and may or may not relate to a common condition of aging, osteoarthritis.

Many studies have found a significant change in joint pain and stiffness when comparing pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women; regular pain and stiffness seems to be more severe during and after menopause. In fact, in one of the most comprehensive studies done on joint pain and menopause, post-menopausal women were twice as likely to report joint pain and stiffness as premenopausal women. Reported levels...

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Is intermittent fasting the best route to weight loss?

be eat Sep 06, 2019

Don’t you love that feeling of new beginnings that happens as we start September? Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of time in school, or maybe it’s from watching the transition every year with my own kids, but September always feels like an opportunity to start fresh and get back on track. The fall is the time of year that many of my fellow Age Sisters think about making some changes to live a healthier life. As women, sometimes the change we tend to focus on most often is diet.

I’m asked a lot these days about my view on the latest diet trend, intermittent fasting. Let me start by saying that many of the modern diet approaches have some merit, especially if you are eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, thinking about more variety, or being more thoughtful about when you eat. But the thought of intermittent fasting always causes some tension in my psyche. Here’s why…

Growing up in the era of the grapefruit diet, the lemon-juice and cayenne...

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This week's top stories about women, health, and aging

connect eat move Aug 16, 2019

It’s hard not to feel a little down about the news of the world these days. There seems to be nothing but stories about gloom and doom. So, this week, I’m hoping to lighten things up with some good news stories about healthy living and aging. I’m writing about three studies that provide some good news about the power of healthy living for women over 50. Read on about how to reduce your risk of dementia with lifestyle, how working might actually be good for your cognitive health, and new way to manage that stubborn post-menopausal weight gain.

Healthy Lifestyle Offsets Genetic Risk for Dementia

Until recently, it seemed that there was not much you could do if you had a genetic risk of dementia. A new study is challenging this idea; it turns out that all the same things that lower your risk for chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer can also lower your risk of developing dementia – even if you are at risk genetically.

In the...

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Why little habits are the key to good health

be eat move Jul 19, 2019

Do you ever wonder how someone you know manages to be so consistent with their healthy habits? You know the type – someone who seems always to eat healthily and exercises consistently. Do they have fantastic willpower and strength? The answer is no. Those folks who are so consistent with diet and activity have just formed little habits that allow them not to have to rely on motivation.

In this post, I want to talk about why establishing small habits is the key to a healthy lifestyle. I also want to debunk the myth that regular exercise, healthy diet, good mental health practices, and so on are only for those people who have incredible willpower. All of us can lead a healthier lifestyle – we need to come at it the right way.

Why do habits matter?

Habits, motivation, and willpower can sometimes seem like the same thing. I like to think of it this way: motivation and willpower get you started, but habits keep you going. Think about your local gym in January.

For the...

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The ultimate guide to the Mediterranean diet for women over 50

be connect eat May 29, 2019

When you think about the word diet, what images come to mind? Is it of the young, enthusiastic face telling you that their new magic supplement is going to help you shed 20 pounds? Or the less-than-appealing plate filled with portion-controlled servings? Endless days of cayenne and lemon juice fasting? I’m here to suggest that what you should be more likely envisioning is a long table in Spain peppered with celebration and filled with delicious food.

 

I’ve written a lot about healthy eating habits on the Age Sister blog site, but so far have been hesitant to recommend a specific diet. Lately, many readers have told me that they would feel better if they had a framework to follow when it comes to better eating. The idea of providing a better recommendation has led me to develop this post about what I consider to be the best eating pattern for older women – the Mediterranean diet.

 

Unlike many of the popular diet trends, research on the...

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Eleven ways to take better care of your brain health

be eat move May 24, 2019

In my last blog post I talked about how low mood, anxiety, and rigid thinking can creep into our lives around menopause and the years following. Many women in later mid-life also complain about problems with memory loss. If you are feeling like your brain is not as sharp as it once was you are not alone; when surveyed, the majority of women over 50 reported feeling like their memory and concentration had gotten worse in mid-life.

It’s normal to worry that problems remembering or issues with concentration might be the early signs of cognitive decline, or God forbid, dementia. The good news is that your risk for dementia is relatively low in later mid-life and the risk of developing dementia doesn’t start to increase increase until you are older than 65.

What contributes to changes in memory?

 Although some researchers suggest that dropping estrogen levels may be responsible for cognitive problems in mid-life women, it doesn’t appear that memory issues...

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Why women over 50 should break up with the bathroom scale

balance eat lift move Apr 19, 2019

Recently, I was diagnosed with an injury that has benched me from my regular exercise. Couple this with the impending onslaught of eggs, bunnies, and other chocolate wonders that appear this time of year and not surprisingly, my attention has turned to the possibility of weight gain.

Weight gain in peri and post menopausal women is a significant health issue. We know that women in late middle age have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) that rivals men, and that carrying too much excess fat is a significant contributor to CVD. In our age group, carrying too much weight can also increase the risk of things like problems with metabolism, cognitive decline, arthritis, urinary incontinence, cataracts, and cancer. Good times.

The Issue 

Many women have been conditioned since an early age to weigh themselves regularly, but using weight as a measurement becomes more problematic over 50. Most importantly, the number on a scale doesn’t reflect the loss of what we...

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The key to a healthy diet might be more about what you’re not eating

be eat Apr 12, 2019

I hate to be an alarmist, but low-quality diets continue to contribute to a huge number of deaths. In 2017, poor diet killed 11 million people worldwide. Even though since 1990 that number has come down significantly, improvements in diet could still potentially prevent one in five deaths globally.

The typical North American focus on healthy diet is all about removing unhealthy food; we tell people to eat “less of” various foods in most dietary recommendations.

What if we have gotten this approach all wrong? A new study recently published in The Lancet suggests that instead, we should focus much more on making sure that we are adding in certain foods.

THE RESEARCH

The analysis published in early April was a large review of studies of human nutrition done in 195 countries around the world. Although the review has some important messages, as with any individual study of human health, we always need to be aware of limits in the study design. One important issue to consider...

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