As women reach their forties, it can harder and harder to lose weight and stay in shape. Hormonal and other changes can affect the metabolism, digestive system, and other bodily functions. Unfortunately, the only way to avoid or reduce these issues is by making changes. Here are eight diet changes women need to make after forty to stay energized, prevent weight gain, and maintain good health.

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1. Eat more frequently

This may sound counter-intuitive, but eating five or six small meals a day, instead of three big ones, may actually help maintain or even lose weight. The key is to eat smaller amounts of food in each sitting. This helps maintain blood sugar levels and voice spikes and crashes throughout the day; this leads to higher energy levels and less of a feeling of hunger.

2. Replace sugary snacks with fruit

Sugar over-consumption can have many negative effects on the human body and brain. Countless studies have shown that too much sugar consumption in a day can actually cause fatigue, as well as increase the risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other problems. Many women turn to sugar filled snacks or drinks in an attempt to “wake up” when, in reality, it can cause a crash in energy levels. Sugar can also signal an inflammatory response, causing bloating, joint pain, and skin problems.

3. Fish for heart health

Heart disease is a major risk for women, and that risk gets higher after menopause. It is recommended that women consume at least two servings of fish a week. Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish or fish oil supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body as well as contribute to brain and heart health.

4. Increase calcium intake

As women age, their calcium needs change with their bodies. After age 50, the amount of recommended daily calcium goes up by 200 milligrams. Women’s risk of developing osteoporosis also increases with age. Making sure to get the right amount for each day can benefit bone health; however, do some research first. Some studies have shown that too much calcium can actually increase a risk of death.

5. Put the drink down

This may not be what anyone wants to hear, but health risks associated with alcohol increase after age 40. Red wine has been linked to reduced risk of heart disease. But studies have shown that drinking just one drink a day has been linked to an increase in breast cancer risks.

6. Avoid processed foods

Much of the food that is consumed these days is processed; stripped of nutrients, pumped full of chemicals for preservation, and processed for packaging. Processed foods offer none of the benefits of fresh, whole foods, and can contribute to bloating, fatigue, and changes in mood.

7. Drink more water

This should be common knowledge, but in truth, most women don’t drink enough water. Water is important for everything, and dehydration can create a plethora of issues. Drinking the right amount of water per day will help with energy levels, bloating, and even skincare. Since the skin is the largest organ of the body, it’s important to keep it nourished. Since women over 40 are more prone to wrinkles, sagging, and other skin problems, keeping it hydrated can keep it firm and strong.

8. Vitamins and minerals

Most people, not just women, struggle with getting the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals per day. But these are important for brain and body health. Making sure to reach the daily amounts will also help decrease risks of many conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

These things are all important for preventing weight gain and maintaining health in women over the age of 40. In general, getting all the right vitamins and nutrients, as well as staying active, will help women maintain their weight and overall health well past their forties.