Eat small, more frequent meals throughout the day.
Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
As women age, they require fewer and fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight. Some women in their 40s start to experience symptoms of menopause, notes the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. MayoClinic.com reports that although hormonal changes that take place during menopause can cause abdominal weight gain, healthy eating habits can prevent unwelcome weight gain in your 40s.
Meeting recommended calorie requirements helps middle-aged women achieve or maintain healthy weights. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest women in their 40s eat 1,800 calories if they're sedentary, 2,000 calories if they are moderately active and 2,200 calories daily if they lead an active lifestyle. Overweight and obese women should aim to consume 10 calories for each pound of their desirable body weight - or 1,300 calories daily for a goal weight of 130 pounds - notes the University of Washington.
Protein, Carbs and fat
Getting the right balance of protein, carbs and fat helps women feel - and look - their best. The Institute of Medicine recommends women in their 40s consume at least 46 grams of protein and 130 grams of carbs daily. Fat should make up 20 to 35 percent of their total calorie intake, the Institute of Medicine notes. Therefore, women in their 40s should aim for 44 to 78 grams of fat daily when eating 2,000 calories a day. Choose a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, oils, low-fat dairy foods and lean meats or seafood.
Vitamins and Minerals
Key micronutrients for women in their 40s include iron, calcium, vitamin D and vitamin C. A study published in 2007 in the вЂњAmerican Journal of Clinical NutritionвЂќ found that higher intakes of vitamin C are associated with a less wrinkled appearance in the skin of women ages 40 to 74. Calcium and vitamin D, abundant in low-fat dairy foods and fortified soy products, help reduce bone-density loss associated with aging in women. Insufficient dietary iron, found in lean meats, iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach and legumes, can leave women feeling dragged down.
Sample Meal Plan
Using a sample Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 meal plan helps women in their 40s plan nutritious menus. For example, a 2,000-calorie plan includes 6 ounces of grains, 2.5 cups of vegetables, 2 cups of fruits, 5.5 ounces of high-protein foods, 3 cups of dairy foods, 6 teaspoons of oils and 258 extra calories daily. Foods in the protein foods group include seafood, poultry, lean meats, egg whites, soy products, nuts and seeds. Once slice of whole-grain bread is equivalent to 1 ounce from the grains group.