You’ve probably discovered that shedding extra flab becomes harder to do once you roll past 40. In fact, just keeping your weight steady is now a challenge. Gone are the days when you could inhale four slices of pizza and a large soda and still slide into your skinny jeans the next morning. Now, you can’t even have three slices of pizza and a diet soda without paying the price in pounds. What gives?

Quite simply, our metabolisms slow as we age. According to the Mayo Clinic, we need 200 fewer calories per day in our mid to late forties than we did when we were younger. And as we approach menopause, our shifting hormones cause a corresponding shift in fat deposition and distribution, with more fat settling on our bellies and less on our hips. Even if we don’t gain weight, we may not like our new silhouettes.

How can we keep our youthful figures as we transition into midlife? Pamela Peeke, M.D., author of Fight Fat After Forty, offers the following tips:

  • Eat regular, reasonably sized meals. Concentrate on low-fat dairy, whole grains, and lean proteins, and try to combine protein and carbohydrates to stay fuller longer. A low-fat yogurt with a piece of fruit, for example, makes an ideal snack.

  • Watch your meal timing. Too many women skip breakfast or eat it late in the morning. Try to have it by 9 am, with a small midmorning snack and lunch by 1:30. Start dinner between 6 and 7:30 pm, and finish by 8 pm to give your body a chance to use the calories you eat.

  • Be wary of carbs, especially at night. Don’t have pasta, bread, rice or potatoes with dinner, except for once or twice a week as a treat. One piece of bread with lunch is fine.

  • Scale down your meals, especially in restaurants. Assume that the portion you’re served would be more appropriate for a couple of lumberjacks than one average-sized woman. Visually divide your plate in half and eat only one portion.

  • Ban “fat-free” products from your home. They’re stuffed with low-quality, highly refined and processed sugars.

  • Drink up. According to Dr. Peeke, we often mistake thirst for hunger. Next time you find yourself rooting for a snack, have a big glass of water instead, and see if you feel satisfied.