It’s barely an hour past lunch, and you’re hungry. Again. These days it feels like you could eat everything in your refrigerator at one go without even coming up for air.
What is going on? Why do you suddenly have the appetite of a high school track star?
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with eating. No one should feel ashamed or embarrassed about their appetite.
But if you’re concerned your appetite, nutrition and hormones may be impacting your health, it may be useful to understand why appetite can ramp up in menopause – and how you can stay within healthy limits.
There are a few possibilities to consider, but note that the jury is still out on exactly how hormones, menopause, and appetite interact. So, as always, talk with your doc before making assumptions about your own situation.
So, since hormonal changes in midlife are inevitable – if they haven’t happened sooner – are we stuck struggling to manage our appetite and weight?
Before we get to the advice portion, there’s something we want to point out: Many of the articles we found dealing with menopause and appetite are about losing weight. We want to emphasize that we believe achieving and maintaining a healthy weight is the goal. So, we say to societal standards based on unrealistic (and frankly misogynistic) ideas about the female form, there’s the door.
When it comes to weight, it's a jungle out there. Lots of folks want you to believe they have the answer, so be sure to do your research and talk to your doc before making radical changes or introducing new supplements or "diet aids" to your daily routine.
As our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Rebecca, says, "Research into all of these hormones and neurotransmitters (some function as both) is still at the basic and translation science stage. We don’t know what it means clinically, so while it may be nice to understand to an extent how they may impact menopause and the experience of menopause, no practitioner can alter or 'treat' these things. If someone is selling you something to do that, they are selling snake oil – the science is, unfortunately, still years away. The only take away is to reduce your stress as best you can (which you didn’t need the science to tell you!)"
Whatever the role hormones have to play in appetite, one thing that’s quite common is the difficulty of losing weight once gained in menopause.
That may be because of our slowed metabolism, it may be due to menopausal fatigue, stress, the effects of night sweats and restless leg syndrome (RLS) on our ability to get a decent night’s sleep.
All of which is to say: Be aware that maintaining a healthy weight in midlife may require different strategies and be patient with yourself.
Clearly weight management is more complicated than “calories in, calories out.” Hormones, the stresses of life, and the unique challenges of midlife can all add layers of complication to the way we eat and the way we feel.
But it’s important to understand that weight gain isn’t personal failure. Your body is extraordinarily complex and amazing; it can also be frustratingly unpredictable. Give yourself room to experiment and learn, and don’t forget to include your doctor in major lifestyle changes.
What are your challenges in maintaining a healthy weight, and what’s worked (or hasn’t)? Please share with us by commenting here, or joining the conversation in our community forums. You can also reach out to us on Gennev’s public Facebook page or in our closed Facebook group.
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