A close-up of a woman holding a bowl of granola is shown.
Past 40? Sorry to say, but there are no more ‘cheat days’ in your future. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Midlife is a time when the body is no longer on auto-pilot, the old tricks do not work for weight loss and sleep becomes more elusive.

Women will say, “I eat the same, I exercise the same, but I gain weight and can’t lose.”

My response is that is because their body is changing and the old habits will no longer work for them.


A bowl contains lemon broccoli pasta.

Lemon Broccoli Pasta

One of my kids’ favorites is this alteration of Barefoot Contessa’s Lemon Broccoli Pasta. I added chicken and changed it up a bit, and they never noticed. It is simple, fresh and tastes good while also being satisfying and healthy.

Brown rice pasta
Roasted chicken
2 lemons
4 cloves garlic, diced small
6-8 T of olive oil
Raw broccoli head
3 T pine nuts
Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt

Boil water and place broccoli pieces in water for four minutes, remove with slotted spoon and place in large serving bowl. Dice the roasted chicken. Add brown rice pasta and cook to package directions, and drain and spray with cool water to stop cooking. Add to broccoli in a bowl. In skillet, heat olive oil. Zest the lemons and sauté the zest with the garlic. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze out the juice and put in the skillet, and pour all over the noodles and broccoli. Add the diced chicken and grate with fresh parmesan cheese and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Serve and enjoy!

Sadly, over 40 means no free days.

The good news is knowledge is power and the food we make and serve can be delicious, filling and healthy.

A patient I’ll call Amy is the perfect example of so many women. She is 48, has three children, and stays busy with work and at home. Her kids play three different sports, her husband travels, and her family is in town but they are all busy, too. She wants to have healthy food, but all too often her family ends up eating whatever on the way to practice or cereal when they get home.

She came in for her physical and said, “I am so tired, gaining weight, and want to feel better. I don’t even know what to cook for dinner anymore.”

As I aged, I did research to understand why I experienced the same issues.

My biggest barrier was having teenagers and no time. I did not want to make separate dinners and I wanted to eat with my family.

They like potatoes, pasta and rice. So I learned about the glycemic index, or how certain foods turn quickly into high blood sugar, and others raise blood sugar more slowly so it can be used by the muscle and brain, not get pushed straight into fat.

Carbs with color such as brown rice, brown rice pasta, sweet potatoes, brown rice chips, cooked oatmeal and whole grains fit the bill and can be easily substituted without anyone noticing.

So, I still could use my favorite cookbooks, and just make small changes to keep enjoying my favorite recipes. As time was also the issue, I would just get certain things prepped in advance, and make sure I had a menu planned. On nights home, I would often prep for the next night.

Every Sunday, I began to roast sweet potatoes, make a pot of short grain brown rice, and cook brown rice pasta. I’d cool it all off then store the rice, pasta and sweet potatoes in baggies in the fridge. I would have enough for dinners, but also could use these base ingredients to pack my lunch.

Getting control of your weight and health is about little changes that add up to get the results you want. It works.