We all know the saying “middle age spread” and unfortunately this can be a fact of life when getting older. You may have been slim all your life but suddenly and almost inexplicably as you move into you mid 40s or later, some extra weight seems to start appearing.
If you are a woman, this has much to do with the start of the menopause. While the bad news is that this weight gain is very common, the good news is that it does not have to be permanent.
The menopause can mean a fluctuation in your hormone levels and with it, a variety of symptoms including hot flashes, depression and weight gain. There can even be changes in your libido.
Hormones can disturb your natural reactions
Estrogen controls your level of serotonin which is the hormone that controls feelings of satisfaction as well as other neurotransmitters which control appetite, mood and memory. As you can imagine, all of this can in turn affect your eating habits. None of these hormones remain static at this time – they are all changing and so your eating pattern can be disturbed and you may gain weight.
In the past, many women used hormone replacement therapy to try and restore proper hormone levels but this has become less popular recently because of health risks including a greater chance of certain cancers.
It is much healthier to limit what you eat and to get plenty of exercise
As with so many other conditions, battling hormones is all about balance in your life - moderation in everything.
• Keep alcohol consumption to the absolute minimum.
• Reduce your sugar intake by sticking to an absolute maximum of 6 teaspoons of sugar per day or preferably change to a natural and safe sweetener known as stevia. Do not be tempted to use artificial sweeteners which are particularly unhealthy.
• Drink plenty of water – those 6 to 8 glasses per day remains the optimum goal. But water is essential to any weight loss program as it helps to naturally flush out the system and can even stem hunger pains by making you feel full!
• Eat a healthy diet with fresh fruit and vegetables. Most vegetables can be eaten with no limit. Balance with carbohydrates and good fats plus fish from a safe source, free range, organic beef, poultry and eggs. chicken and fish. Avoid all processed foods. Limit your coffee intake.
• Get sufficient rest and plenty of sleep. If you can keep your body to a set schedule, it will help not only to maintain proper energy levels but also mean you can avoid cravings and snacking.
• Exercise regularly as this will make you feel good and help you avoid that weight gain. Choose an exercise that you can enjoy so that you are more likely to stick with it.
Even though all women will have to contend with fluctuating hormones at this stage in their lives, there is no reason to let them get the better of you.