If you’re over 40, you may have noticed that it’s easier to gain weight — and harder to lose it — than it used to be.
Changes in your activity level, eating habits, and hormones, and how your body stores fat all can play roles. But a few simple steps may help you slim down.
1 Maximise your fruit and vegetable intake
Fill half your plate with them at every meal as they have more nutrients and less fat and calories than meat, dairy products, or grains.
It may help you feel satisfied, even if you eat less, and fresh fruits are the best substitute for high-fat or high-sugar snacks.
2 Always have breakfast
If you have a healthy breakfast with porridge or wholemeal toast with fruit it can help curb that mid-morning hunger. That’s the trigger that leads you to grab something unhealthy on-the-go or overeat at lunch.
Small meals or snacks every few hours can keep your appetite in check all day long.
3 Make dinner a small plate event
If you get most of your daily calories at lunch (before 3 p.m.), you might lose more weight than if you have a big meal later. But the most important thing is still what you eat, not when.
4 Cook healthy, not hearty
A lot of extra fat and calories can come from the way you prepare food. Instead of frying or cooking it in butter or lots of oil, try grilling, baking, or microwaving.
When eating out skip foods that are fried or that come in creamy sauces.
5 Pay Attention
When we are busy, or stressed, we tend to vague out and not really be present. That’s when it’s tempting to just grab a ready meal or try doing other tasks while eating.
If that is what you do, then you’re more likely to overeat — and be hungry again soon after because you are not focusing on your food.
Sit down for meals and tune in to what’s on your plate (not what’s on your TV or computer screen). That helps your brain realize when you’ve had enough.
6 Reassess your drinking habits
A ‘spare tyre’ is common in middle age, and alcohol can have something to do with it. A glass of beer or wine is about 150 calories, and that can add up if you drink often. Plus, alcohol can make you hungry, so you may eat more while you drink.
Soft drinks too can also be a problem if you drink sugar-sweetened coffee, tea, soft drinks, or energy drinks as a regular part of your day then switch to water or alternatives like fruit or herbal teas.
Many soft drinks have lots of added sugar, which can make you gain weight and raise your risk for diabetes.
7 Exercise is not optional
When you are busy, or you have put on a few pounds and don’t feel able to go to the gym or exercise you really don’t’ feel like putting in the effort.
It really is important — for your weight and your overall health — to fit in at least a couple of hours a week of of moderate physical activity like brisk walking or swimming, dancing or even housework with a bit of energy behind it!
Don’t trust to luck that you will find the time, but schedule it and make it a priority.
8 Get a handle on your stress
Stress can make you more likely to binge on unhealthy food, and it makes it harder for your body to break down fat.
Anything that you and pleasurable, and will continue with, is worthwhile whether that’s yoga, deep breathing, meditation, going for a walk, or reading a good book.
Stress relief is different for everyone, so find what works for you.
9 Get sleep sorted
All kinds of things can mess with your sleep after age 40 — health problems, stress, medications, and menopause. in particular can play havoc with it.
If you are not getting good-quality sleep then you are more likely to gain weight, and your overall health will suffer too. If you skimp on sleep because you’re busy or stressed, try to change your habits and settle into a regular routine.
9 Is your thyroid to blame?
If you are eating healthily and exercising regularly and still can’t lose weight, your thyroid might not be working like it should. This happens in about 5% of people, and it’s most common in women and people over 60.
In addition to weight gain, it can also cause fatigue, joint or muscle pain, and depression. Get it checked if you think it might be an issue.