Dealing with weight gain during the menopause

I recently went through the menopause and I have now discovered that I’m putting on weight, and it is mostly around my middle.

What can I do to stop or reverse this excess weight?

>>Although normal in a woman’s life, the symptoms and changes that the menopause brings can be difficult. Every woman’s experience, and how she manages it, will differ. It’s important to ensure that you have a healthy diet and take regular exercise.

As we get older, we tend to gain weight more easily and find it harder to lose it, which is partly due to our metabolism slowing down. Also, as oestrogen levels fall after menopause, fat may redistribute itself from other areas of the body to the abdomen, giving an ‘apple’ shape.

This body shape is linked with increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers. This makes regular exercise, and a healthy diet, all the more important at this stage in your life.

With diet, you should start by looking at what you are eating and making some healthy changes. Some suggestions for healthy eating are:

* Reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet; use olive oil or rapeseed oil, instead.

* Try to eat oily fish at least once a week.

* Cut down on processed foods and prepare meals from fresh ingredients, instead.

* Reduce or eliminate added salt, when cooking or at the table.

* Eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.

* Increase the amount of fibre that you eat — this can be found in wholegrain breakfast cereals, bread and pasta.

My 13-year-old daughter is complaining of aches and pains in her thighs. Some nights, she is woken by the pain. Are these what my mother used to call ‘growing pains’, or is there something more serious happening?

>>It is important to seek your GP’s advice to out rule other causes of her aches and pains. Growing pains are what doctors call a ‘diagnosis of exclusion’, a diagnosis arrived at when all other possible diagnoses have been ruled out.

Growing pains can wake a child during the night or from a nap, when there are no other musculoskeletal problems. The symptoms are relatively common: prevalence is reported as between 3% and 49% of children.

Pain can recur, or be absent for days to months, varying from mild to very severe. Pain always concentrates in the muscle area, particularly in their thighs and calves. ‘Growing pains’ usually resolve by late childhood. The causes of growing pains are unknown.

You can help your daughter to alleviate the pain by: nMassaging the area nHot baths nPlacing a heating pad on the area, or a carefully sealed hot-water bottle nStretching nGiving pain relief, such as ibuprofen or paracetamol. Your GP will be able to reassure both of you as to the nature of these pains.

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