As a GP I speak to lots of women going through the menopause. A lot of my friends are a similar age to me and menopause is coming up more and more in our conversation, including weight gain during menopause.
It’s definitely not a foregone conclusion that a woman puts weight on at this time, but there are reasons why it can happen.
If you’re like a lot of women you probably haven’t got a lot of slack in your system before you even reach your menopause. By that I mean you might not be looking after yourself nearly as well as you could be:
- Maybe your nutrition could better
- You know you’d benefit from more sleep
- Perhaps you’re not exercising that much
- You’ve got a lot of stress on, and you’re too busy to deal with it!
If you have no slack in your system – your menopause will expose it big style. Weight gain during menopause is just one the many of the horrible things that can happen. But it doesn’t have to.
Weight Gain During Menopause
Reducing oestrogen levels makes it more likely that your belly fat will increase. If you’re an apple shape already your waist may get bigger than ever before. If you’re a pear you may experience a slight shift in fat from your hips and backside to your belly.
Menopause can lead to feelings of anxiety and stress. Any stress including psychological stimulates your adrenal glands. The result of that is cortisol release. Cortisol is a stress hormone which is good when it’s needed and in small doses. But too much of it encourages fat to accumulate around your middle.
Lack of sleep messes up your appetite regulation hormones. This not only increases your appetite, but also make you want to eat the ‘food’ that helps make you fat – sugar and refined white carbs, e.g. white bread.
Menopause – An Invitation To Make Some Changes
A lot of women think that their sleep is wrecked by menopause and hot sweats, because this is the most obvious thing going on right now. Menopause certainly can wreck sleep, but it’s usually that last thing on top of a whole list of sleep-wrecking behaviour. It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.
There are lots of things you can do to help your sleep during menopause (all of which will help all you other menopause symptoms including weight gain). You can read more about sleep here.
I see menopause as an invitation to up my game in a holistic way – looking at how to improve my sleep hygiene, my diet, my exercise, and my general self care routine.
Have a great week