Menopause weight mistakes you might be making

Eileen Durward

04 January 2021

Today's topic

Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be looking at seven weight gain mistakes you may be making during menopause.

Weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of menopause. Many women find that the weight just seems to creep on and it can be extremely difficult to lose. But there can be little mistakes that you could be making that could be making it harder to lose your menopause weight.

Some mistakes you might be making that impacts weight during menopause

Lots of simple things can impact your weight during menopause, so let's take a look at seven of the most common mistakes and what you can do to put them right.

Mistake 1. Not having enough fat in your diet

This is a big mistake because we've been brought up to see fat as the enemy and so many women end up going on low-fat diets. This causes two problems in menopause. One is you need fats to make hormones. So, if you're not consuming enough fats in your daily diet, that could be affecting your hormone production too, just when you need more.

The second thing is that so many low-fat foods end up being tasteless without the fat, so sugar is added to improve the taste. So, you may eat things like low-fat yogurt, low-fat biscuits, low-fat meals, thinking they are healthier but they contain so much sugar which causes several problems, including fluctuating blood sugar levels.

We can be more prone to conditions such as diabetes going through menopause, so consuming a lot of extra sugar isn't good for us at the best of times.

So having enough healthy fats in our daily diet is important such as nuts, eggs, and full-fat yoghurt. Check out my blog '7 fatty foods you should eat during menopause' for more examples of good fats and bad fats.

The other thing that can happen is that we don't eat enough food non-stop and what happens here is if our calorie intake gets too low, the body will think there is a famine happening and it will slow our metabolism down even further. So low-fat, low-calorie diets can sometimes do the opposite and cause weight gain.

Mistake 2. Overeating

The opposite of not eating enough is eating too much, and this can easily happen during menopause.

Our sleep can be disrupted in menopause and when this happens, we can end up with fatigue. So, we feel rotten. We feel tired. We feel miserable. And this is when we tend to reach for comfort foods to make us feel better quickly. But these comfort foods tend to be high-sugar foods, high-carbohydrate foods

Mistake 3. Not being aware of hidden sugars in your food

There are sugars everywhere in food. Just about every prepacked, processed foods, ready-made meals will have sugar on the list somewhere. And just remember, the higher up the list the sugar (which included things like fructose and sucrose as well) is mentioned, the more there are of them in the food that you're eating.

It takes time but it's important to start checking labels. I was out shopping once and I wanted to get some ready-cooked salmon to put into a salad, and I couldn't believe it but right there, nearly at the top of the list was sugar. I thought, "Why is there sugar in a piece of cooked salmon?" But it's there and it's a question of seeking these things out before you buy the foods.

Mistake 4. Skipping meals

We tend to think, oh, if we skip a meal, if we cut down on calories, we will be okay. Again, what happens here, if you don't eat regularly, your blood sugars can dip.
That's going to make you more hungry. You're going to eat more, and you are going to be craving these high-sugar foods. If you keep doing that as well, this can cause things like fatigue, headaches, palpitations, and brain fog. And skipping meals and getting these blood sugar fluctuations can also trigger hot flushes and sweats, too.

So, there's a huge range of menopause symptoms that can be caused simply by not eating regularly. And remember, you can have the odd snack in between meals. I couldn't do without them. I find my blood sugars can dip quickly and I always make sure, wherever I go or whatever I'm doing, I've got a healthy snack nearby that I can take if I start to get hungry in between meals.

Mistake 5. Eating too quickly or eating on the run

If we don't eat regularly enough, what happens is that when we do eat, we get so hungry that we just try and eat everything as quickly as possible. The problem with doing this is that it takes our brain about 20 minutes to register that we have eaten enough.

So, if you are really hungry, if you eat quickly, you can eat twice as much food as you need to, within the space of 20 minutes. So, when you eat, try not to eat on the run. Try and sit down. Try to eat slowly because then, you will feel fuller quicker and you can consume a lot fewer calories as well.

So, this can be a really good tip for keeping the calorie count down daily.

Mistake 6. Stressing too much

We know that stress creates a hormone called cortisol. And one of the things that cortisol can do is it can make you feel continuously hungry.
So stress, hunger and overeating, very often, go hand in hand together. So, if you're stressed or anxious, then you need to look at stress remedies such as our Avenacalm.

Also, magnesium is an important mineral during menopause, especially for helping to fight stress. And magnesium can help with those sugar cravings, too. So, it's a nice one to add in if you're not already taking it.

Mistake 7. Not exercising enough or exercising too much

In menopause, because the flight-or-fight situation often kicks in, we need to watch how much exercise we do. If we don't do enough, our metabolism is going to slow down and that's going to affect our weight control. If we do too much, the body can go into panic mode because it thinks it's going to be a big drain on our energy and it will slow our metabolism down as well.

So, with exercise, it's about getting the right amount and the right type of exercise. Regular exercise and consistency are key.

Doing nothing for five days and then going mad down the gym for one or two days at the weekend is not going to help. And that can be one of the major factors that trigger this flight-or-fight scenario.

So, it's about getting regular daily exercise. If you only do a little, 10 to 20 minutes brisk walk a day, that is going to do you far more good than one serious exercise session a week.

I'm working from home, still, at the moment, and one of the things I do, come rain or shine, when I have my lunch, I'm outside for a brisk walk for 30 minutes. Some days, that's all I can manage. But that will keep me going till I can get down to the gym to do my proper exercise sessions.

Another thing that you can look at, for the majority of women going through menopause, high-intensity interval training is going to be much more beneficial than long, drawn-out sessions. But it's about personal choice. And it's also about figuring out which exercises suit you best.

So, for me, brisk walking, at least five days a week if I can, and two to three high-intensity sessions a week and keeps my fitness and my weight control that little bit easier to handle.

So, I hope you found this one helpful.

If any of you have got other great tips that you've found helpful for maintaining or helping with your weight loss, then please share them because as usual, there's going to be lots of other ladies out there who would love to hear about your story.

Key points to take away from this blog:

  • Avoid low-fat, low-calorie diets and make sure you include good healthy fats in your diet
  • Try to sleep better and manage your stress because both of these can influence your eating habits and make you more prone to overeat high sugar foods
  • Eat slowly and don't skip meals
  • Try high-intensity exercises and walk daily if you can

Until next week, take care.

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