Menopause is when a woman’s menstrual periods stop permanently. Menopause usually occurs around age 51, but other factors such as medications can influence when this starts. The years around menopause, called perimenopause or menopausal transition, is when women experience symptoms, which are related to hormone changes. The two main hormones for reproduction are estrogen and progesterone. As women age, your ovaries produce less of these hormones. These hormonal changes around menopause can be difficult and may decrease quality of life for some.
Some symptoms around menopause include: mood changes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, and hot flashes.
Increased appetite is also a symptom around menopause – in one study, the hunger hormone, ghrelin, was found to be higher in perimenopausal women in comparsion with premenopausal and postmenopausal women.
Low levels of estrogen have also been associated with potentially impairing the function of leptin and neuropeptide Y, which are hormones that control fullness and appetite. Many women develop problems with binge eating due to increased appetite caused by menopause.
Here are some tips for reducing menopause symptoms:
- Incorporate physical activity in a way in which you enjoy
- Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week
- Aim for strength training exercises a few days per week, which helps with replacing lost muscle mass and slows mineral loss in bone, which could potentially lead to osteoporosis
- Limit alcohol to one drink per day if you choose to drink
- Increase your water intake – aim for at least 8 – 10 cups per day
- Limit caffeine intake
- Incorporate all food groups into your diet
- Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products, healthy fats and lean protein foods (i.e., animal protein, beans, lentils) contain the nutrients you need
- Add fiber to all meals for fullness (i.e., whole grains, vegetables)
- Pair carbohydrates with a protein source to help keep blood sugar stable
- Eat every 3-4 hours in effort to control hunger levels
- Avoid large meals before bed – it is best to aim for having your last meal 2-3 hours before bed
- Keep your sleep schedule as consistent as possible – go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends
- Develop a relaxing bedtime routine (i.e., read a book, face mask, take a warm
- Turn off all social media and lights or technology in the bedroom
- Keep your bedroom at a comfortable temperature for a better night sleep
Support for a Healthier Lifestyle
Finding support if you find yourself turning to unhealthy behaviors due to menopause is one of the best ways to prevent more serious health problems. Behavioral Therapists at Behavioral Nutrition can help by working with you to find alternative behaviors that will make it easier to prevent unhealthy behaviors like binge eating. Our Behavioral Therapy Services take a holistic approach to find solutions that are sustainable and help you look and feel great. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help you develop a healthier lifestyle.