So how can we lose weight during the menopause?Apr 05, 2022
Ok this is not an easy question to answer …
I know I can hear you all sighing and muttering under your breath! However, YOU CAN DO IT!
We now know that estrogen levels decline during our Perimenopause : we also know we have estrogen receptors in every cell of our body and this influences us in different ways.
Cortisol (our naughty stress hormone) also lives next to estrogen, progesterone and testosterone in the adrenal glands and when the other three start declining, it tries to pull its weight and kick off in its simplest form.
Cortisol stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a surge of energy in your body. While this process is essential for survival situations, it also increases your appetite. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can cause cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods. Now, are you getting it so far?
One of the solutions is…. to avoid stress! Right, so that’s out of the question!
Back to the drawing board…
Seriously, we have to look at weight loss in its entirety – there are four pillars of health – Nutrition, Fitness, Wellbeing and Sleep. When these four pillars come out of sync with each other, we have a problem (Houston!) Now can you see how they are all linked?
Cortisol manages how your body uses (metabolizes) carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and controls your sleep-wake cycle. We know without enough sleep people gain weight steadily.
So how do we stop this cycle? We take CONTROL – this is about YOU and your decisions!
- We have to start “MINDFUL EATING.”
- We need to increase our activity – can be steps/taking the stairs is a good option
- Develop good sleep patterns
- Start practicing mindfulness techniques.
Ok, so for my first part on this epic road to recovery – forget the six steps we are going to take four (well more like 400!) – we are going to look at the TIPS and TECHNIQUES I have established in the psychology of Mindful Eating.
Let’s start with an easy one – since the 1960s our plate size has increased by over 60%. We now eat the same portion as our partners – think about this – my partner is 6ft 5” – why am I serving the same portion size as him?
I don’t mean to… I mean I’m not the same size or weight (!) but I feel it is right to equalise everything.
#TIP1: Sharing is not always caring!
Change plate size – it is not necessary to fill the whole ‘white’ of the plate. Our stomachs can’t calculate the amount of food we eat – if they could we would probably eat less! For example, scientists do not know what makes us feel full.
It’s probably a combination of how much we chew, swallow, think about food and how long we have been eating. We do know that the faster we eat, the more we eat. Most of us decide before we start to eat how much to eat before eating!
Some experts suggest avoiding having anymore than two items on your plate at one time; the lack of variety slows you down! Our eyes deceive us and if we have more choices, we will serve ourselves more (think of Christmas dinner!)
Let’s go back to our senses – we have mentioned our EYES – sight is a definite foodie moment. Again, another example – cover food with cling film and the same dish in tin foil – you won’t think of eating it with tinfoil because you can’t see it!
Remember, the more inconvenient the food is to eat, the less we eat! Let’s talk about SOUND! If you are in desperate need of a snack, eat a carrot! Yes, the brain only perceives the sound and makes you think you are full after one carrot! Try it!
Now SMELL: A new study has found that just smelling high-calorie foods may satisfy your hunger cravings. Those who smelled cookies for just 30 seconds were more likely to want a cookie than those who smelled them for longer than two minutes.
The study authors say the smell of the meal signalled satisfaction in the brain as much as actually eating it. Let’s talk WATER! We all know we need to drink more water! But what if I told you that the two little hormones called LEPTIN and GREHLIN can’t tell the difference between whether you are hungry or thirsty! So, we get that familiar rumbling in our tummy – and what do we do?
Grab something and eat it – or at least tell ourselves we are hungry. There you go you have just “told” your brain – the most powerful muscle in the body - that you are hungry! But what if you weren’t? What if you drank a pint of water – moved around for 10 minutes and came back to what you were doing? Guaranteed the body is thirsty!
#TIP2: Train the Brain!
You are in control of your thoughts – remember 60,000 pass through that mass ever day – not everyone needs air space! Cravings is another major issue – or perhaps I should add SUGAR ADDICTION!
Now we have it (I can hear you all sighing!) – wine and chocolate – the way to a girl’s heart! However, this sugar fest is a minefield for the body – cortisol in its simplest form, is sugar.
We have masses circulating the body due to the sabre tooth tiger (or commonly called work, family and men!) and then we add in alcohol or chocolate! Nobody goes into overdrive – albeit it has the first “WHOAH” moment.
So, how do we avoid the initial craving for a sugar fix in the afternoon or vino in the evening?
- Break the habit – change your normal routine
- Drink a pint of water – cravings can indicate just
- Chew sugar free gum! This is my go-to! Once I’ve had my lunch or when I’m working midafternoon, pop a quick one in! Mouth clean – remember those senses – now the sense of TASTE – the brain is tricked! It thinks we’ve cleaned our teeth and it’s the end of the day!
#TIP3: Listen to your body before eating your meals.
My last tip for this article. Sounds strange? But many of us become accustomed – I think the phrase is have HABITS – about when and what we eat.
For example, breakfast is normally eaten between 7am-9am. But who says? It really isn’t important and the whole hybrid working situation makes things so much easier.
For example, I go for a walk or workout early; I sit down and log onto my laptop ready for my day – wow its 10am! I then have my breakfast (what I have is for the next edition!) Lunch is therefore then put back – sometimes 3pm – but it’s stopped all cravings and now it’s a small gap between that and dinner.
Sometimes, I’m not that hungry but I cook anyway for Him Indoors – and I just give myself a small portion! HEY PRESTO It’s a win-win!
1. Listen to your body – don’t do what you have always done (“HABIT”)
2. Train the Brain – the most powerful muscle and we have control.
3. You don’t have to fill your plate nor eat everything on it – there is no rule!
4. Change your plate size – both myself and Him (or Her) Indoors have breakfasts and lunch on smaller plates (side plates) – its ample!
5. Drink WATER!
Article first published in MenopauseMatters Magazine
For more information on menopause weight loss, you can contact me by email [email protected]
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