Eileen Durward writes this informative guest post about an all too common peril of perimenopause (and menopause) – weight gain. Enjoy.
So, you have just found out that your mood swings, PMS like symptoms and fatigue is the peri menopause and that this will usually last a few years before the menopause itself kicks in. ‘Great’ you say! All this and the one other thing that you’ve noticed is that your weight is slowly creeping up** and nothing you do diet wise is helping, so what is going on?
There could be a number of possible reasons for this:
Are you stressed or leading a busy lifestyle?
Leading a very hectic life, perhaps the kids are still at home, a busy job and other people to look after? The stress of hormonal changes and day-to-day general stress produces a chemical called cortisol, which not only makes you crave sweet foods but if activated regularly will slowly build fat around the waist and this is very hard to shift through diet and exercise alone. Many women who suffer this type of weight gain then go on a strict diet, which will cause big dips in blood sugar levels making them crave more sugar foods. Contrary to belief, conventional low calorie diets will not usually work here but could in fact, lead to more weight gain!
Dealing with general stress is vital as the stress angle can create other health issues including digestive disorders, joint pain and worsen hormonal imbalance leading up to and through the menopause. It may help to take one of the stress remedies such as Passionflower, St John’s Wort or one of the Flower Essences. Many women find taking a good magnesium Citrate supplement can be of great benefit too. Magnesium is your ‘happy mineral’, keeping your mood level and muscles relaxed.
Are you exercising regularly?
Doesn’t have to be frantic exercise, even a 20 min brisk walk every day can help and remember by walking outside in daylight you will boost your vitamin D levels which are necessary for good mood. If too short in time and you don’t fancy hitting the gym there are lots of exercise DVDs around that incorporate short, sharp sessions that you can do at home at a time that suits you. Exercise also releases ‘feel good’ chemicals, which will lift your mood.
Are you eating well?
Are you eating those 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, or are you snacking on lots of carbohydrate foods, sweets or cakes? Low mood, fatigue and stress (remember the cortisol!) have a way of making us crave these foods for a quick sugar hit. So ditch the naughties and revamp your diet. Many women going through this phase actually need more protein so, maybe look for a diet that promotes healthy eating such as the GL Diet or the Paleo Diet.
Are you drinking enough water?
Dehydration will amplify stress and anxiety symptoms so drink, drink, drink, plain water and herb teas. Cut right down on coffee and tea and alcohol as these drinks stimulate the stress system (remember the cortisol!)
Do you have enough ‘me time’?
I bet you don’t have any! It is vital to have some time to yourself every day (it’s a menopause must!). Make it a priority and tell everyone that it is necessary for your happy hormones!
Try a relaxation or meditation CD, have a long bubble bath, treat yourself to a home massage, 30 minutes relaxation even 2-3 times a week can work wonders for your general health and well being.
So to simply sum up weight control in the peri menopause
Good Diet + sensible exercise + stress relief = reduction of cortisol and easier weight management during the peri menopause.
** If your weight gain seems sudden and unexplained do get this checked out by your doctor.
For more information on the menopause you can visit the A.Vogel Menopause website.
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