The Natural Beauty Show discuss menopause
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During menopause, women’s bodies undergo many changes and hormonal shifts that can trigger a number of symptoms, including weight gain. There are a few things to be aware of that could be contributing to the scales creeping up, and an expert nutritionist has outlined some of her top tips on how to deal with the changes. Tamara Willner, a nutritionist at Second Nature explained that although weight is one marker of health, mental wellbeing, fitness, and happiness are “equally essential”, and will make weight gain “more manageable”.
“Focusing on those factors will make managing any potential weight gain easier and more natural,” she said.
The most important thing to remember is that the body goes through significant changes during menopause, so it’s important to take things one day at a time and listen to what the body wants.
Weight gain is primarily brought on by the combination of lower metabolism and changes in stress hormones, which result in fat storage around the abdomen.
“Storing more fat around our middle section is linked to insulin resistance,” Tamara added.
“When we become insulin resistant, our blood sugar levels remain consistently high, which further promotes fat storage.”
So how can women tackle weight gain during the menopause?
Tamara revealed the best way to manage blood sugar levels and weight in the long term is to adopt a lower-carbohydrate diet.
“This naturally increases our protein intake (chicken, tofu, or eggs) and healthy fats,” she said.
“These are digested more slowly than carbs, which can help us feel full and reduce cravings for unhealthy foods, which can be stronger during menopause.”
Example of protein intake:
Example of healthy fats include:
Women can also reduce cravings by focusing on having three proper meals each day.
“When we do experience strong cravings, a good option is to enjoy something satisfying and delicious that’s made from whole foods,” Tamara added.
2. Get better sleep
Cravings can be a result of feeling tired from disrupted sleep, which many women experience during menopause.
“This can be a result of hot flushes, or the hormonal changes going on in our bodies,” Tamara explained.
“Specifically, cravings for sweet foods that are high in refined carbohydrates are common.”
Discomfort at night can also contribute to sleep disruption.
Tamara suggested a number of techniques that women can try to relieve discomfort and ensure they’re getting as much good quality sleep as possible. These include:
Keeping the bedroom cool and using a fan if necessary
Spraying the face with cool water or using a cool gel pack
Wearing loose, thin clothing to bed that can be easily removed if necessary
Avoiding synthetic fabrics and opting for thin cotton nightwear or sheets
Sipping cold or iced water
Having a lukewarm shower or bath rather than a hot one
Some women may find it harder to engage in physical activity because of the discomfort from aches or hot flushes.
“We all know that exercise can contribute both directly and indirectly to weight loss and health,” Tamara said.
“But exercise doesn’t need to be done for long periods to be effective.”
For example, doing squats while waiting for the kettle to boil or push-ups while food is heating in the microwave can be a great way to add in an extra workout throughout the day.
Exercise is also an excellent stress-reliever, and Tamara reassured that if women are finding it more difficult to exercise than before they began the menopause, they may experience increased stress levels.
4. Stress relief
If a woman finds they can’t exercise due to a hectic work schedule or their symptoms make it unbearable to do so, Tamara laid to a few methods to relieve stress a different way.
“Stress is something we often don’t think about when we’re trying to make healthy changes, but it can be one of the most impactful factors,” she said.
Consider these techniques for managing our stress levels:
Meditation or deep breathing
Gentle exercise, like walking or yoga
Journaling daily gratitudes
Joining a programme
4. Consider supplements
The hormonal imbalance can throw a lot of things into disarray, including vitamin or mineral deficiency.
But doctors have advised that supplements will only help improve the menopause symptoms caused by a dietary imbalance, and won’t help improve any symptoms caused by hormonal changes.
Tamara said that there are certain supplements that can also promote health while managing some symptoms.
If you’re looking for extra support, joining a programme to help you make healthy changes can be effective.
The NHS-backed Second Nature programme this year has helped 2337 women between the ages of 45-60 lose at least one stone since joining.
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