Many midlife women find that they need to make changes to how they are eating. They may be putting on a few extra pounds, or they may decide to do it for health reasons. But you don’t have to start with big changes. Try these simple changes to make your diet healthier.
You’ll notice that I don’t base this list only on calorie count, but on nutritional content. Calories are not the only thing that is important even if you are trying to lose weight.
Herbal tea instead of coffee
Midlife women may find that coffee makes them jittery or that it contributes to menopause symptoms. If you find that you can’t drink as much coffee, then swap all of it or some of it for herbal tea. One of my favourites is rooibos, which can be made into latte if you like. Another benefit of herbal tea – if you drink it unsweetened and without milk it has no calories.
Eat raw nuts instead of pretzels or potato chips
This may seem contradictory. Aren’t nuts more calories and more fat than pretzels? That is true, but nuts have many benefits depending on which you choose. Nuts contain fibre, protein, magnesium, and heart healthy omega 3s. Snack foods like potato chips are designed to make you want to eat the whole bag, but even a few walnuts can be very satisfying.
Steamed vegetables instead of mashed potatoes
Fill your plate with vegetables like broccoli instead of mashed potatoes. Not that there is anything wrong with potatoes but mashed potatoes usually contain lots of butter and milk or cream. But vegetables like broccoli offer several nutritional advantages like magnesium, vitamins A and C and even some protein and calcium.
Coffee with cream instead of a latte
If you are able to drink coffee, then make sure that you are not drinking a lot of extra calories. A tall latte with whole milk from Starbucks has 180 calories and that is one of their lower calorie beverages. Stick to regular coffee with a little cream instead. (Your wallet will thank you, too)
Popcorn with a spray of apple cider vinegar instead of potato chips.
Craving a snack? Air pop some plain popcorn and then spray with a mist of apple cider vinegar. Popcorn is a whole grain and this makes a cheap, low calorie and delicious snack.
Lentils or small beans like mung or adzuki for some or all of the ground beef in chilli
If you are making chilli or anything using ground beef, you can substitute ground turkey for a lower calorie option. But you can go one further and add some cooked lentils or small beans like mung beans or adzuki beans. The beans will increase the fibre and nutrient content substantially. Fibre helps with weight loss, digestive health and even reduces some menopause symptoms.
Steel cut oats instead of packaged cereal or instant oatmeal
Make your breakfast healthier by opting for steel cut oats instead of packaged cereal or instant oatmeal. Don’t be fooled by the nutrition labels on packaged cereals showing a bunch of vitamins. These are added vitamins, often from synthetic sources, and you are probably better off with a high quality multivitamin.
If you don’t want the long cooking time for steel cut oats, then cook them overnight using an electric pressure cooker. You can time it to be ready when you get up in the morning.
Fake fries instead of packaged French fries
Fake fries is my term for potatoes cut fry shaped and mixed with a little olive oil before baking in the oven. Rather than deep frying or even baking French fries try this option instead. It only takes minutes to cut the potatoes and it is a much healthier option, especially compared with deep frying.
Even if you oven bake packaged French fries, they contain heavily processed oils and other additives.
Spinach, chard or baby kale instead of lettuce
Making a salad is always a good option, but you can up level your salad using spinach, baby kale or chard (or a mix of all three) instead of lettuce. This is especially true if you are using iceberg lettuce.
Whole grain or chickpea pasta instead of regular pasta
Processed carbs like regular pasta can contribute to blood sugar spikes and they don’t really have any nutritional benefit. Instead, substitute a whole grain pasta or a pasta made with chickpeas. Both contain more fibre and chickpea pasta is also a significant protein source (something midlife women are often lacking). I’ve found that chickpea pasta has the best flavour and texture of any bean or lentil pasta.
I hope you have found my somewhat nontraditional list of swaps to be helpful. If you want more help with planning meals and knowing what you should be eating, then join my Meal Planning Plus course.