Though it’s clear to women around the world that shifting hormones pack on extra-stubborn fat, doctors often dish out cookie-cutter advice that barely helps. “I was one of those doctors,” admits Mary Claire Haver, MD, an ob-gyn from Galveston, Texas. Then she hit menopause. As her own slim-down efforts repeatedly failed, she dove into research. Ultimately, she shed 20 pounds, restored her well-being and hopes to pay it forward with her Galveston Diet.
“It’s a myth that older women just eat too much or get lazy,” says Dr. Haver, who has millions of TikTok followers. “Hormonal changes are the big problem, one we can solve with nutrition.” Now, her innovative plan is helping millions of women over the age of 50 boost their well-being as they slim down with ease. That includes devotees like Rhonda Walker, a Louisiana grandmother who credits the Galveston Diet with helping her drop 93 pounds and shrink 15 inches from her waist. Intrigued? Keep reading to find out what the Galveston Diet can do for you too.
Why it’s hard for women over 50 to lose weight
When Dr. Haver’s hormonal changes and weight gain initially began, she was determined to prove that the “eat less, move more” mantra she’d long preached to patients really did work. Yet even cutting way back on calories and doubling down on workouts completely failed to budge the scale. Frustrated, she started researching ultimately even took classes in nutrition at Tulane University. The more she learned, she slowly realized “everything was pointing to increased levels of inflammation as the culprit,” she reveals.
Turns out, estrogen is a hormone with surprisingly powerful anti-inflammatory properties. When it naturally begins to decline around age 35, inflammation steadily increases. And as levels plummet after full menopause sets in, inflammation tends to surge. Dr. Haver says that for many women over age 50, it’s like there’s a fire that smolders inside us, one that may trigger a host of conditions we tend to blame on aging like joint pain, anxiety and heart trouble. (Click through to learn about more inflammation triggers.)
Inflammation also contributes to mid-life weight gain. How? It can slow the thyroid while simultaneously spiking hormones (like cortisol and insulin) that drive hunger, cravings and belly-fat storage. “Women come to me, grab their tummies and say, ‘What is this? I’ve never had this in my life,’” shares Dr. Haver. Luckily, there are everyday foods that “get things spinning in the right direction again.”
How the Galveston Diet reverses menopause weight gain
The biggest and most important change you make when you follow Galveston Diet guidelines is steering clear of foods that fan the flames of inflammation — anything made with refined sugar, refined starch and processed fats or a lot of chemical additives. And then you start swapping in foods that put out the fire.
Now, there are a lot of foods out there that soothe inflammation. But you don’t have to worry about memorizing long lists of what to eat. Instead, just dive in with Dr. Haver’s 20 favorite anti-inflammatory ingredients.
Her favorites each scored huge when the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics rated the inflammation-fighting ability of common groceries:
- greens, all varieties
- olive oil
- nuts/seeds, all varieties
- sweet potato
Simply build most of your meals with these 20 foods. You might prepare eggs with olive oil and enjoy with sautéed greens and roasted sweet potato. For a quick-fix salad, top any veggies you have in the fridge with grilled chicken and olive oil vinaigrette and a sprinkle of nuts or seeds. Dr. Haver urges you to really fill your plate. “Focus on adding good things and you’ll crowd out the processed junk that makes inflammation worse.”
As inflammation quickly subsides, “you’ll be amazed by the difference you see and feel,” she promises. Bloat, cravings, pain and tiredness will begin to disappear. And as swelling comes down, “you tend to see really fast weight loss, especially in the first 10 days.” (Click through to learn more about anti-inflammatory superfoods.)
Boost results with these Galveston Diet strategies
To fight inflammation and meno-flab even faster, Dr. Haver recommends that for at least six weeks you try keeping carbs down and amping up your fat and fiber intake. “It may be the quickest way to lower high blood sugar, which drives inflammation,” she explains. It also can speed the rate at which we lose stored fat, “and fat tissue actually releases inflammatory compounds, so losing fat and reducing inflammation go hand in hand.” She suggests getting about 70% of your calories from fat, 20% from protein and 10% from carbs — and adds that the free app Chronometer makes it easy.
She also suggests you begin using a form of intermittent fasting that involves eating all your calories in an eight-hour window each day and sticking to natural, zero-cal beverages the rest of the time. According to experts who spoke to Woman’s World, once we’ve gone about 12 hours without calories, our bodies have used up all the readily available blood sugar. After that, “your body will be burning stored fat as its primary fuel,” says Johns Hopkins intermittent fasting authority Mark Mattson, PhD, author of The Intermittent Fasting Revolution.
So if you eat in an eight-hour window (such as 10 am to 6 pm) and fast for 16 hours a day, four of those are pure fat burn. The process of using fat for fuel creates compounds called ketones that suppress hunger. Perhaps more important, “they’re a powerful inflammation fighter,” says Dr. Haver. (Click through for more about intermittent fasting for seniors and how it helped one 71-year-old lose 121 pounds.)
Dr. Haver says women using her plan are often shocked to see how well their bodies suddenly respond. Not only do longstanding health issues resolve, but during body scans, “we can literally see faster fat burning, especially around the midsection,” she says. And when Italian scientists tested similar anti-inflammatory strategies, they found evidence that fat burn accelerates approximately 650%, according to their study published in the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy. No wonder many consider it the best approach for those of us coping with menopause. (Click through for more Galveston Diet strategies to speed menopause weight loss.)
Success story: Susan lost 57 pounds + feels great
After Susan Jacobsen retired, her early menopause symptoms gradually got so bad, they scared the Alabama native. She struggled with significant weight gain, bloating, joint pain, hair loss, difficulty sleeping and hot flashes “that left my heart racing,” she shares. So when she found Dr. Haver on social media, she decided to try the Galveston Diet.
Susan began cutting back on “quick, starchy foods,” replacing them with lots of brightly colored produce. Favorite meals included fried eggs with avocado, citrusy salads with chicken and simple roasted fish with asparagus. “After only 14 days, I had lost six stubborn pounds, my bloating was gone and I felt so much better,” she shares. “I had no idea how inflamed my body was until it started going away.”
Gradually adding intermittent fasting and more of Dr. Haver’s strategies, Susan, 53, found herself 57 pounds slimmer with almost no menopause symptoms. “My resting heart rate lowered by 20 beats per minute, and I have so much more stamina,” she shares. “I look and feel like a new woman. Menopause doesn’t have to be a difficult time. Follow Dr. Haver’s advice and you’ll see!”
Success story: Rhonda lost 15 inches from her waist!
As hormonal changes amped up for Rhonda Walker, “I was always tired, no energy, terrible brain fog, unable to sleep soundly,” recalls the Louisiana grandmother. “I had high blood sugar and doctors said I should try eating better, but I never managed anything for more than a few weeks.” Then Dr. Haver caught her eye on TikTok. “It was as if she was talking directly to me.” Feeling a glimmer of hope, “I looked at the meal plan and found a couple recipes I thought I’d like.”
She began enjoying a yogurt-berry parfait for brunch and taco soup for dinner, snacking on nuts and grass-fed beef sticks. Gradually, she incorporated more anti-inflammatory foods: greens, beans, salmon, mushrooms, sweet potatoes and more. Down 20 pounds in five weeks, she went on to shed 93 pounds and 15 inches from her waist. Her blood sugar is healthy for the first time in years. “If you’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel good, try this. My body, mind and health completely changed in a one year!”
Galveston Diet recipes to get you started
Ease in to the Galveston Diet by making these anti-inflammatory foods your staples: asparagus, avocado, beans, beets, berries, broccoli, carrots, celery, eggs, greens, olive oil, oranges, pineapple, poultry, salmon, mushrooms, sweet potato, tomato, nuts/seeds. Find meal ideas to inspire below and at GalvestonDiet.com. You can also learn more about Galveston Diet’s nationwide meal delivery service. To amp up results, use the Cronometer app to get 10% of your calories from carbs, 20% from protein and 70% from fat. (Click through for more anti-inflammatory recipes.)
Sheet-Pan Salmon Supper
Built with several of Dr. Haver’s favorite anti-inflammatory ingredients, this ultra-easy weeknight dinner is yummy, healing and slimming.
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1 lb. assortment of asparagus, grape tomatoes, halved onions and rosemary sprigs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 tsp. minced garlic
- juice of ½ lemon
- Arrange fish and veggies on a lined sheet. Whisk oil, garlic and juice with salt/pepper to taste. Brush mixture on fish then drizzle on veggies, tossing to coat.
- Bake at 425ºF until salmon is done, 13-15 minutes. Serves 4
Easy Egg Boats
Slightly hollow baked sweet potato halves. Brush with olive oil; add a raw egg to each. Bake at 375ºF for 10 minutes. Garnish
Enjoy grilled chicken and avocado over greens, tomato and basil; drizzle with olive oil vinaigrette.
Creamy Pineapple Whip
In food processor, blitz 1-2 cups slightly thawed frozen pineapple, 1 serving plant protein powder and a monk fruit or stevia to taste.
For more about how to combat menopause weight gain, check out these stories:
For more about how to tamp down inflammation for better health, click through:
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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