Updated: Sep 9
Trying something new on Be Well With Steph, The Podcast! Do you ever have that random health or nutrition question pop into your head, but know you'll send yourself down a rabbit hole if you try to google it? I'll be your new google! ;) haha. I'll be hosting "Q & A Grab-Bag" episodes, where I answer questions that come from YOU.
Today's Q & A Grab Bag episode will answer 4 questions that came from instagram listeners about: weight gain during menopause, eating at certain times of the day, dairy benefits / concerns, and how to balance your plate.
Have a question you want answered? DM me on Instagram! @bewellwithsteph_
Chanda: My question is regarding menopause. I've read so many great things about the positive impact a whole food, plant-based diet can have on menopause symptoms. But I'm struggling so much with weight gain in spite of my plant-based lifestyle. I feel like I'm going to have to reduce food intake, even though it's healthy food. That can't be the best answer because then it's hard to get that healthy variety of plant foods in the diet. What am I missing?
Many women experience weight gain during menopause, so you are not alone in this. We can partly attribute this to hormonal changes, including drops in estrogen that affect energy levels and insulin processing, which can affect our hunger levels. So, it’s not uncommon for women in this phase of life to end up moving less and eating more calorie dense foods, leading to weight gain. In addition, there’s the natural aging process that decreases muscle tone and increases stored fat, which slightly slows the body’s metabolism.
SO, what do we do about this if it’s making us uncomfortable or causing body fat to increase around the midsection?
I’d first suggest trying exercise increase over food restriction (I’d recommend that to everyone, actually!) If you’re eating the same but increasing the exercise, you’re both burning more calories AND increasing your muscle tone (which again aids in metabolism).
I’d then have you take a look at the calorie density of the foods you choose on a regular basis. Even though we SHOULD be eating whole grains, beans, nuts/seeds, other healthy fats on a regular basis, maybe our plates are a little heavy on these foods and a little light on water and fiber based vegetables and fruits. Portion awareness is important for everyone! I have a short recorded workshop on this topic that I’ll link in the show notes and blog on this that has more explanation and visuals. Just slight shifts in the way we balance our plates can make a huge difference in calorie intake.
Remember, reducing calorie intake is NOT right for everyone’s health! Talk to your doctor, or me, or another nutrition professional if you’d like more individual help with this.
Hope this helps!
Building Portion Awareness without Portion Control: https://www.bewellwithsteph.com/product-page/building-portion-awareness-without-portion-control
Lindsey: Does eating at certain times of the day matter?
The short answer is yes; there is substantial research that it is most beneficial to our bodies if we keep three things in mind:
Not eating around the clock
Not eating late at night
Front-loading our day with the most calories
So let me break this down:
Our bodies benefit from time to digest, metabolize, and use nutrients for bodily and cellular functions. If we are continually inputting, the body is allocating most of it’s resources to digestion. Think of it this way: Have you ever tried to work while someone is continually talking to you? You’re taking words and thoughts in, in, in, without time to think about what they’re saying, let alone do the work you’re supposed to be doing! When we continually give our bodies food, it’s kind of like that. We don’t need extreme fasting or extreme windows, but the general recommendation is to allow for at least 12 hours of non-eating. So if you’re done eating at 7pm, a 7am breakfast is great.
Eating late at night does make a difference. If you haven’t had dinner, you’re starving, you did a ton of exercise, you got home late… you should still eat!! We don’t really want to make a habit of super late meals, because there are links to late eating and all sorts of health concerns (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor digestion, acid reflux, general trouble sleeping). We also don’t want to make a habit of the late night snacksidents, where we accidentally eat the contents of our pantry out of habit or comfort or exhaustion. Those become calories our body probably didn’t need and isnt going to use effectively.
Calories eaten early in the day give us energy for more activity, prevent intense cravings later, and have time to be digested and metabolized throughout the day, so at night while we sleep our bodies can work on other important jobs like cellular repair, building muscle, and improving cognition.
SO your big takeaways are to eat more of your calories early in the day, avoid the late night snacking, and give your body a nice window of time to not be consuming.
Link to NutritionFacts.org on Timed Eating: https://nutritionfacts.org/audio/exactly-when-should-we-eat/
Brittany: Is dairy really bad for you?
I’m going to reframe this question a few ways for you today!
Dairy products are foods. Foods all contain different nutrients, and are either more or less beneficial to our overall health. Dairy products contain protein and calcium (and it some instances fat) and those are what the benefits to the body could be.
Dairy products are also, however, usually high in saturated fats that are linked to heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimers. There are also significant studies linking high-fat dairy to breast cancer. In addition, as we age, our bodies have less ability to break down lactose (the sugar in milk) that can cause digestive distress. (So for those of you like me who cannot digest lactose, eating dairy can definitely feel bad!)
There are also people concerned about contaminants in dairy products, such as hormones from cows, antibiotics given routinely to cows, etc that can carry into our food supply.
And lastly, I’ll just say, while there can be some argument about the nutrients in dairy being beneficial, it certainly is not a good arrangement for either the environment or the cows… and seeing how dairy is just a food with protein and calcium, I’d strongly encourage you to consider non-dairy sources of those nutrients, avoid any links to chronic diseases, and live as compassionately as possible.
For more information: https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-about-dairy
Melissa: What food groups should always be on your plate?
I’ll take out the word “always” and replace it with “as often as possible.”
I’ll also take out “food groups” and swap it for “nutrients.”
So let’s rephrase this question as, “What nutrients should I prioritize in my meals?”
And then my answer would be:
Lots of water, fiber, and color rich foods
For me, this breakdown often looks like:
A whole grain or potato
Beans (chickpeas, lentils, soy/tofu, anything made from these)
Avocado, nut/seed/butter, olive oil
About half a meal of vegetables and/or fruits
Balanced Meals Made Easy!:
Did these questions address anything in your life? Have a question you want answered on the show? https://www.bewellwithsteph.com/podcast
Building Portion Awareness without Portion Control https://www.bewellwithsteph.com/product-page/building-portion-awareness-without-portion-control
Link to NutritionFacts.org on Timed Eating
Article on Dairy Concerns
Balanced Meals Made Easy! https://www.bewellwithsteph.com/product-page/balanced-meals-made-easy
Looking for support yourself? Let's chat and see if working together would be a good fit. Discovery Calls are always free! www.bewellwithsteph.com/workwithme
Listen to this episode with even more advice from me, on Be Well With Steph, The Podcast :)
You are worthy of living and capable of creating a healthy lifestyle you love. 🤍