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The perimenopause is "fun" enough with its hot flashes, mood swings, cold sweats, vaginal dryness, and libido changes, so why, oh why does it need to add insult to injury by making you gain weight? By understanding the factors that lie behind sudden weight gain during the perimenopause, you may be able to stop the pounds from piling on.
The Perimenopause Leads To Insulin Resistance
You've got three main hormones called adrenaline, cortisol and insulin. Adrenaline and cortisol are responsible for controlling the response to stress and insulin controls the body's sugar levels. Therefore, there is a link between stress and food because the food we eat can cause us stress and if we are stressed this can cause us to eat the wrong foods.
When the body is producing too many of the main hormones due to stress or overeating, the body cannot produce the hormones we need (such as progesterone and estrogen) in the right quantities, and this puts the body out of alignment. When you are in the perimenopause period, your body develops insulin sensitivity which means it is unable to cope with high levels of simple carbohydrates and sugars such as table sugar and white bread. If this happens the body converts a higher percentage of these types of foods into stored fat. This therefore starves the body of healthy nutrients even if you are gaining weight.
Try to eat a balanced diet that is high in protein and vegetables with brown/whole-wheat carbohydrate sources to get the required amount of carbohydrates to fuel the body. The biggest battle is this increase in glucose and insulin sensitivity can cause food cravings which you need to control.
Stress And Weight Gain During The Perimenopause
The perimenopause period of a woman's life is particularly stressful and adding this to the stresses of everyday life such as work, children and other factors can lead to problems with weight gain. Many women at this age may already be suffering with weight gain and yo-yo dieting so the added stress of potential further gains can wreak havoc on the adrenal system, making weight loss almost impossible.
This then hoards and stores extra calories leading to unusual weight gain and prolonged stress can lead to further problems such as adrenal fatigue. Combine this with a diet high in carbohydrate is a recipe for disaster.
There are some simple ways to try and lower your stress levels at this time by trying some of these simple things:
- Try meditating once a day even for just 10 minutes — take some time alone and just sit and focus on breathing to lower your stress hormones
- Start exercising when possible - try taking a gentle walk every evening to let go of the stresses of the day
- Try to eliminate any sources of additional stress if possible during this time to help your body cope with the added stress