Manage your symptoms better during perimenopause and menopause with these effective strategies to combat obesity
Did you know that between the age of 45 to 65, the incidence of obesity is around 65% and over the age of 65, this number increases to a whopping 74%? Such staggering statistics lead to some stress and anxiety among my patients and friends who are in their perimenopause phase as the accumulation of fat is concerning for them.
So, how can you help combat weight gain during this time? Here are five easy yet effective ways to turn this situation upside down by minimizing such numbers and living a healthier life.
What is perimenopause and how is it different from menopause?
Perimenopause is the years before menopause when your hormones start fluctuating and changing. Think about it as the last bit of toothpaste left in the toothpaste tube, where in some months the hormones come out very smoothly. However, in some other months, it splatters and your hormones are all over the place due to a lack of hormone production.
During this time, your body will try to ramp up hormone production, which will lead to fat accumulation because you could be producing estrogen from fat cells. You could also experience a range of symptoms over the months like fatigue and hot flashes. When you hit menopause, think of it as the time in the toothpaste analogy where the toothpaste tube is empty and your body is not producing any hormones.
It has been observed that post-meal insulin levels are high in menopause and stress levels are higher in both menopause and pre-menopause.
So, what can you do to improve this situation?
Your focus should be on mitigating these symptoms through what you eat and increasing your activities. Here are a few of my recommendations to help you during this stressful time:
- Increase your level of low-intensity activity. For example walking in nature is a good option. This movement prevents your body from feeling the stress that comes from high-intensity workouts.
- Consume more fiber, especially vegetable fiber. It can naturally rebalance the hormones by binding them, stabilizing blood sugar levels, and making you feel fuller. Vegetables have vital vitamins and minerals that help control symptoms of weight gain during both perimenopause and menopause.
- Consume adequate levels of omega-3 and vitamin D. You can easily get vitamin D checked through blood tests and take supplements if you are on the lower end. Omega 3 works well in dealing with menopausal symptoms and the weight gain associated with it.
- Control your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake. As we get older, often insulin resistance becomes a problem and the way we process sugar is impaired for various reasons. Part of the issue is the loss of muscle tissue. When your estrogen is dropping, your androgens will relatively increase. There are many hormonal mechanisms that change, including an important one involving sex hormone binding globulin (shbg), which goes down. That's when you will often notice that you react to food differently and so the sugary foods you were able to tolerate before, you might not be able to tolerate anymore.
- Last but not least comes water. There is no exact amount of water you should be drinking per day. The recommendation of 8 glasses a day is really based on nothing. I recommend you drink two liters or drink enough until urine becomes light yellow. If you feel thirsty or have to urinate frequently (more than average), you should be checked for medical issues such as diabetes or thyroid issues.
I know that perimenopause and menopause can be very stressful for women. They often don’t have the support and knowledge they need to know about what they should do and eat. I wanted to share these strategies with you hoping that they will make this life change easier.