GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — All women experience menopause and the physical and mental changes that come with it. Did you know that these changes may also increase a woman’s risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity? Low levels of estrogen that occur during menopause can be associated with insulin resistance and difficulty losing weight.

Irene Franowicz, dietitian and certified diabetes educator with Spectrum Health, who teaches the Eating the Mediterranean Way series and Jacquie Zlotnicki, who attended the series talk about how the diet changed her life.

Many women experiencing menopause report cravings for sugar and carbohydrates, making weight loss even more challenging. A Mediterranean diet can have many health benefits for pre-menopausal and menopausal women, according to evidence-based studies.

Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, olive oil, nuts and fish has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects on the body and improves overall bone and muscle mass.

It has also been proven that eating a Mediterranean diet could prevent or even reverse metabolic syndrome — a cluster of risk factors for heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. 

Eating the Mediterranean Way is a 10-week program, where you learn how to make healthy, delicious whole foods that will bring your health and weight back to their prime.

It’s not a diet—it’s a lifestyle. You could lose ten pounds in ten weeks with Spectrum Health's personalized low-glycemic carbohydrate plan. Each week,  participants can sample different delicious dishes. 

The low-glycemic carbohydrate plan consists primarily of 40 percent total calories from carbohydrates, 40 percent from fats and 20 percent from protein. A great example is the Mediterranean diet. The low-glycemic diet is the most effective way to burn calories and keep your energy consumption high, even after you’ve lost weight.

It’s also a great way to curb your cravings for sweet foods. Think brown, not white. Eat more beans and lentils as snacks, explore the infinite varieties of hummus: lentil, roasted red pepper, beet, and hummus with blue cheese and chopped walnuts. 

Skip the white bread, choose whole grain instead, skip the white rice, choose the brown or quinoa instead. Liven it up by sauteing some onions, garlic, celery, red peppers and carrots in olive oil, then add spices like cumin and paprika. For more flavor add a chicken or vegetarian mushroom stock instead of water.

Get rid of white potatoes and use sweet potatoes—they’re higher in fiber. If you love chips, try smoked almonds instead. If it’s salt you crave, go for popcorn with olive oil and sea salt.

Zlotnicki attended the Eating the Mediterranean Way series because she was experiencing midlife health struggles. 

"I wanted a lifestyle change and a path to better health, and I knew that I needed a reputable nutritionist  who would understand what I was going through and provide the guidance," said Zlotnicki. "Diet and exercise were the key to gaining overall better health."

She gained the skills, knowledge, courage and support to make immediate changes and benefited quite rapidly and pushed herself to go beyond the minimum suggestions, and was able to safely lose over 30 pounds in 14 weeks and she is still "living and losing".   

Zlotnicki eats completely "clean and organic" and "super foods" are a large part of her daily menu.

Spectrum Health next 10-week series will begin on April 30, but Franowics said they offer the session three times per year. 

The first session is two hours because and Franowics covers low-glycemic carbohydrates in-depth but all subsequent sessions are an hour and a half. 

A Mediterranean diet can specifically:

  • Improve blood sugar control in type 2 diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and the function of cells in the pancreas
  • Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by improving cholesterol levels and the markers of inflammation

Eating the Mediterranean Way

Spectrum Health Butterworth

100 Michigan Street NE

Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Register at spectrumhealth.org

Call 616.774.7779 for more information  

Contact Irene Franowicz, RD, CDE

Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator

616.391.1875