Pin it

Plant Based Eating For Midlife Women

The recent surge of diets like Keto and Paleo would make you think that plant based eating no longer has relevance. But plant based eating can have positive effects for midlife women.

What is plant based eating?

Plant based eating is a diet that is based mostly on eating plants. Definitions of what plant based is can vary from a fully vegan diet that contains no animal products to a semi vegetarian diet that contains mostly plants but also some meat, fish, or dairy.

Most plant based diets emphasize whole, minimally processed foods. This is sometimes referred to as a whole foods plant based diet. Here are a few definitions (listed from most restrictive to least)
Fruitarian - only eats the fruits of plants. This means they don’t eat anything that grows in the ground or is the leaf of a plant. Only some eat nuts and seeds. This is not considered a healthy way of eating.
Vegan - a person who eats only plants.
Vegetarian - also includes eggs and milk products in their diet. Sometimes called a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
Pescatarian - they also include fish and seafood in their diet.
Semi vegetarian or flexitarian - the most flexible of the plant based diets, these people also include some meat or fish in their diets.

What are the benefits of plant based eating for menopausal women?

Reduced menopause symptoms

A plant based diet is higher in several nutrients that have been shown to have a positive impact on menopause symptoms. Plant based diets are higher in magnesium, fibre, healthy fats, and some B vitamins. These can help reduce menopause symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings and poor sleep.

Better weight management

Women who eat a plant based diet that is rich in vegetables have more success with losing weight and keeping the weight off than women who ate a diet based on animal products.

Fewer health risks

Women who eat plant based diets may also have lower risks of several diseases that start to develop in midlife. Plant based diets reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. But if you are eating meat, then reducing the amount of processed meats you eat will help as well.

Can be Cheaper

Plant based diets can be cheaper, but it depends on how you approach it and how you approached your meat based diet.

You may feel that the extra vegetables (especially if organic) will be more expensive. But dried beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds are very cost effective. Avoid expensive processed foods like fake meats and fake milk beverages and you will likely be able to save money on your food bill, even if you include organic fruits and vegetables.

More variety

Many women are surprised that including some plant based foods in their diet actually means more variety not less. You can discover the wide range of ethnic foods which are plant based like falafels, Indian dahl, Mexican beans and tofu stir fry.

Be a global citizen

Plant based eating can take less of a toll on the environment than meat based eating. Plant based protein can feed more people using less land and with less release of greenhouse gas

Is there a downside?

Women are told to get more protein as they get older. This may make you wonder if a plant based diet is right for you. It is possible to get enough protein on a 100% plant based diet but it does take more effort. Including dairy, eggs and even some meat makes it easier, but it’s not essential. Check out the article I wrote on protein sources that are not meat for some ideas.

There are some nutrients that are not available on vegan diet. Vitamin B12 is only found in animal based foods. This vitamin is important for maintaining brain function and red blood cells. The form of omega 3 fatty acids that is the most beneficial is mostly found in fish and algae. Certain other nutrients like iron are much harder to get on a plant based diet. For any of these nutrients, you may want to consider supplementing, especially if you are considering an entirely plant based diet.

Because a plant based diet is higher in fibre it may cause some initial digestive distress, especially if you already have issues with your digestive health. You should add more plants to your diet slowly and pay attention to how your body is reacting to the change in diet.

If you don’t pay attention to the types of carbohydrates you are eating then you may get too many of the most unhealthy carbohydrates on a plant based diet. Make sure you are eating whole grains, not refined grains and better yet include some forms of legumes when you switch to plant based. Try to include more vegetables as well to reduce your carbohydrate intake.

Where you might go wrong

Going plant based is not a license to indulge in carbs, especially heavily processed carbs. If that is the type of carbohydrates you eat now, then gradually shift to whole grains and even to legumes.

Or you might rely on fake meats. The new beyond meat burgers are a good way to introduce yourself to a more plant based diet, but they are heavily processed and not and ideal way to get your plant based protein.

Trying to do it all at once is a mistake many women make. It is difficult to make such a big change at one time. And added so much extra fibre to your diet may cause some digestive issues to start with. And if you have made big changes, you won’t know which food is causing the distress. A better approach is to take it slowly and only add a few foods at a time, while gradually reducing your meat intake. This will help you to stick with the changes and help to reduce any digestive issues.

Summary

Eating a plant based diet has many benefits for midlife women. Slowly adding more whole foods to your diet is the best approach to getting these benefits. My Healthy Changes Membership helps you to slowly change your diet and lifestyle so you can have lasting results. This flexible program can easily be used to work towards a plant based diet, and is helpful if you already eat a plant based diet, but still want to make improvements. Find out more here.

 plant based eating for midlife women

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/plant-based-roundtable-1

https://www.theibsnetwork.org/blog/vegan-diets-and-ibs-are-they-compatible/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-nutrients-you-cant-get-from-plants#12

https://www.agesister.com/blog/vegetarian

 

 

Comments powered by CComment