The issue of how to manage your weight during menopause is the number 1 concern most women have, says Menopause expert and author, Nicole Jaff.
Here, she explains why weight gain becomes a problem during menopause and what you can do about it:
Why we gain weight during menopause
Most women gain a few kilos during perimenopause. There are oestrogen receptors in our fat cells and since our ovaries are producing less oestrogen, fat is often redistributed to areas where it produces most oestrogen – the waist, bottom, hips and thighs. As we get older we start losing muscle mass, our metabolism slows, we’re less active and may have impaired thyroid function too. A cocktail for weight gain!
Another reason for weight gain is some carbohydrates can quickly increase levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that makes us feel good. It’s quite logical that our brains, knowing we’re down, encourage us to reach for comfort foods to help us feel better. So we end up eating more and more, whether we’re hungry or not.
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We may also eat to stop anxiety and depression or because we’re bored or lonely. We need to understand whether we’re eating because we’re genuinely hungry or for emotional support.
How to keep weight in check
If you’re overweight going into perimenopause, you’ll find it more difficult to lose weight. When we’re carrying extra weight, there’s an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Focus on maintaining a healthy weight by exercising more. Exercise helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, helps avoid bone loss, increases muscle strength boosts energy levels, improves the ability to sleep well and helps release tension.
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A healthy balanced diet is also important. Avoid crash dieting where you’re required to cut out entire food groups as this alters hormonal function and can lead to unhealthy yo-yo dieting. Stick to unprocessed foods including plenty of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, seeds, nuts and healthy fats from olive oil, avocado and oily fish.
DISCLAIMER: Before starting any diet, you should speak to your doctor. You must not rely on the information on this website/newsletter as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.