Does menopause make you eat more?

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Menopause Advisor
Ask Eileen

14 January 2019

Read the full video transcript below

Today's topic

Hello, and welcome to my weekly video blog. And today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be asking, "Does the menopause make you eat more?"

The answer to the question is, yes, it does. And this is a really common one. Most women will find at some point during the menopause that their appetite and their appetite control just goes right out the window.

Why can menopause make you hungry all the time?

The reason it happens is severalfold. Certainly, as your oestrogen starts to fall, this can affect your blood sugar balance.

And basically, your insulin -  you become much more sensitive to insulin fluctuations and that can have a big effect on your appetite. And in this situation, if your blood sugars fall too quickly or fall too low, then the body tries to compensate this to get your blood sugar levels back up.

It will make you crave really sweet things. And the problem here is if your blood sugar levels go up and down all day, you're going to be snacking and eating sweet things and high-calorie foods all day which is going to make everything worse. This is going to make your blood sugar levels go up and down even more.

But it means that this is going to end up contributing to some of the menopause weight gain that a lot of women experience at this particular time.

Other things which can make you eat more during menopause

The other thing that can happen here is that it can be due to lack of sleep. They do know that lack of sleep can interfere with your appetite, and for those of you that are getting hot flushes, or night sweats, or just not sleeping well, this can be a big factor.

It can be emotional eating, and I know for me, that's certainly something that I still get today. Anxiety and stress can make you crave sweet things. It's a horrible situation to be in because in this particular case, if it's all to do with emotional eating, then usually, you can't stop at one biscuit, you can't stop at one chocolate, and there is just this total inability to stop eating until you finish absolutely everything.

Then what happens, of course, is the guilt kicks in and you think that you can't control yourself or you're weak-willed. And to be honest, it's nothing to do with that. This is a real physical problem that's going on here. It's not just because you can't control how you eat. It can also be due to, you know, just life in general. It can be to do with our work.

If we're not able to eat regularly, then that can affect our blood sugar levels, too, and that can then make us eat a lot more when we actually sit down to have a proper meal.

How can I control my hunger during menopause?

So how can you control this one? There are a number of things that can certainly help. You need to eat well.

Eat nourishing and filling foods

And this is another reason why having a good healthy varied diet in the menopause can work wonders because the bigger the range of nutritional foods that you have, the less likely your body's going to crave anything extra. So that's the main thing. So have a good look at your diet and see if it needs improving in any particular way.

Plenty of protein

Make sure you get plenty of protein as well. Make sure you get healthy fats. And I'm going to be doing a video all about why fats are really important in the menopause, so this is quite an important one.

Fibre-rich foods

Fibre-rich foods, good healthy fibres. So this is not things like white rice, and white bread, and pasta, but things like brown rice, and lentils, and beans, and pulses can all help to keep your blood sugar stable as well.

Good snacks for menopause

Snacks. I can't get over how many times I need to say this. Snacking in the menopause is absolutely vital. In this situation, if you go more than about three hours without something to eat, your blood sugars are going to plummet. So this is where snacks really come into their own.

And I know for those of you who are watching your weight, this can be quite a tricky one because, you know, you just think, "Oh, I can't have anything to eat that's going to make me feel better, that's going to either put on weight or it's going to be really high in calorie." Well, have a nice surprise. There are loads of really good snacks that are less than 100 calories.

Some of my favourite ones, and this is just a brief list, a little bit of smoked salmon spread with half a teaspoon of cream cheese. You've got things like a mashed boiled egg with half a teaspoon of mayonnaise. You can look at, if you're a meat eater, a thin slice of roast beef without the nitrites, which is very, very important here.

You can spread it with whole grain mustard and just roll it up and have it as a little roll snack. You can look at quarter of an avocado and maybe a little half a teaspoon of cream cheese in the middle and some lemon juice sprinkled on the top. All of these snacks will give you protein, they will give you healthy snacks, and they're all less than 100 calories, so that's great.

You know, and I love these kind of snacks. They really keep me going. I tend to add in a little bit of cucumber. Cucumber, if you get organic ones, they are a fantastic cheap superfood. And I normally have a piece about that big every day incorporated in my snacks. They're full of water as well, so they're going to give you that little bit of extra hydration too.

So, as you can see, snacks are really important to help you from overeating generally. And they will make you less hungry when you do sit down to a proper meal, so you're less likely to overeat in the main meals as well.

Avoid foods that leave you hungrier

Things that you really need to avoid are the foods that are going to spike your blood sugars. So it's all the things that we like, unfortunately, so that's things like your caffeine drinks, your coffee, your tea, your fizzy drinks.

It's your high-sugar and salt foods. It can be processed foods, fruit juices. And I know that fruit juices and smoothies, we're told that they're really healthy, but they're very high in fruit sugars and that can really trigger your blood sugars as well.

So they're best avoided. I tend not to recommend them at all during the menopause, and it's certainly not something that I have in my daily diet either. Avoid artificial sweeteners. These can really interfere with your insulin balance. So this is something that should be avoided at all costs as you're going through the menopause.

Sort out sleep issues

If sleep is an issue, then you can look at our lovely herb Dormeasan. If night sweats are waking you up, we've got our fantastic Sage tablets.

Curb your emotional eating

And if stress is an issue, if you're having that emotional eating that's going on, we have AvenaCalm.

We've got Passiflora Complex, and we've also got something called Craving Essence, and this is one of the lovely flower essences that work on the emotional issues. Sometimes we don't know why we're craving foods. All we know is that we're anxious and flower essences work on that lovely emotional level as well.

My Top Tip:

Craving Essence flower remedy can help you cope with not only the initial cravings, but also any additional feelings of self-disgust, guilt, over indulgence and dependency. Take 5 drops in a little water, 3-6 times daily to help ease food cravings caused by emotional issues.

Find out more about Craving Essence

Drink plenty of water

Remember the water because hunger can often be thirst in disguise. So whenever you start to feel really hungry or want to reach for the sugary snacks, try and have a glass of water first just to see if that makes a big difference.

Add spice to your meals

You can add in spices as well. Spices like ginger and chili are really good for keeping your metabolism going and keeping hunger at bay as well. So look at those. If you feel your cravings are really bad that if your overeating is getting out of control, then there is a supplement called Chromium which you can get at most health food shops and that could be really effective at balancing everything.

When to consult your doctor

Just one word of warning here, if you find that your sugar cravings and your hunger is getting really out of control, then please just check with your doctor. We do know that insulin balance during the menopause can get quite wonky, and we don't want things leading on to hormonally-caused diabetes, so just double-check your doctor with that one.

Hopefully, this has given you a few tips. If any of you have any super snacks that work really well for you or have any other tips at how to help to keep your diet in balance, we would love to hear them. And I'll see you next week for another edition of A.Vogel Talks Menopause.

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