Dealing with some extra abdominal fat during middle age? As you near the end of menopause — when your ovaries stop producing eggs — your estrogen levels drop, which can lead to weight gain, especially around your midsection. But you don’t have to succumb to a new mid-life midsection.

Experts recommend the following natural tips for balancing estrogen levels:

  • Consume more foods with natural, dietary estrogens, such as flaxseed, eggplant, apples, beets, chickpeas, oats, peppers, garlic and tomatoes.
  • Focus your diet on lean proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. “I recommend that women eat smaller meals and snacks every two to three hours,” says Alicia Stanton, MD, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss (Alpha, 2011), in order to maintain a steady blood sugar, which keeps insulin and cortisol stable, and prevents spikes or dips in blood sugar that can lead to an imbalance of estrogen.
  • Make working out as habitual as brushing your teeth. “Exercise keeps the lymphatic system clear of toxins and also helps clean the liver,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of Hormone Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Restoring Health and Vitality (Adam’s Media. 2005). “That makes the liver more available to create hormones out of cholesterol, including estrogen.”
  • Hit the weights and intervals. “Strength training will increase lean muscle mass and metabolism, which will help balance estrogen levels and protect the bones from osteoporosis,” says Stanton, “while interval training will improve stamina and endurance.”