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Join me in learning how to control that insatiable menopause hunger. This kind of hunger hits you like a freight train, making it hard to resist even that week old cheesecake at the back of the fridge. If you’re constantly wondering why you’re always hungry now that you’re in menopause, stick around to discover why and how to manage it.
Understanding Menopause Hunger
Hormones play a role in your cravings.
In perimenopause, the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin surges, leaving many women feeling famished. Meanwhile, the hormone leptin, responsible for signaling fullness, begins to decrease.
It’s an uphill battle to control menopause hunger from the get-go.
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As estrogen levels dip estradiol, a type of estrogen, used to help curb our appetite struggles to do its job. Constant hunger becomes a common companion during perimenopause.
This hormonal rollercoaster can also disrupt your sleep due to night sweats, hot flashes, and other symptoms. When sleep eludes you, cortisol steps in, causing insulin levels to rise and blood sugar to drop, triggering more hunger.
Call it cravings, menopause hunger, or munchies – it’s a challenge we face.
Psychological Factors At Play In Menopause Hunger
When Did You Last Eat?
Don’t wait until the tank is completely empty to eat again. It’s a fine line between being slightly hungry and ‘hangry’ as can be experienced with perimenopause hunger and menopause cravings when all rational thinking completely deserts us.
This is when you’ are’re likely to find yourself, fork in hand, demolishing the second half of a cheesecake that you forgot was in the back of the fridge.
And what’s that on your other hand? Is that a bottle of Hershey’s Chocolate Sauce your squidging all over your next bite?
Tip – If you plan and prepare something to eat before hunger has completely taken over then you are ready and waiting with something healthy that will provide the nutrition and energy you need until your next meal.
If you know your going to be out make sure to take a snack that’s not packed with calories but gives you energy and a bit of protein.
Related Post: How To Eat To Improve Your Digestion
Have you been feeling stressed a lot lately?
There is a reason for that. When estrogen decreases it struggles to keep cortisol under control and the effect is the same as getting no sleep.
Watch out for the vicious cycle of stress, no sleep, more stress.
With bad sleep comes stress and with more stress comes bad sleep. I urge you to see your doctor if you’re struggling with either. Going down the no sleep high-stress path can lead to other more serious health issues including diabetes.
Muscle mass is declining at a rate of 0.5-1% per year once you hit menopause at around the age of 50. This might not be a significant number.
But it’s common for physical activity to drop off at this age too. Add that to the fact that many women will eat less protein and the shrinkage of muscle is accelerated.
Our muscles may be withering away but our hunger isn’t
And the calories have to go somewhere. Welcome to middle-aged spread.
But menopause and hunger don’t always go hand in hand. There are of course other reasons for being hungry.
This type of hunger doesn’t come from our stomachs telling us it is time to eat. It is born from emotion.
Where physical hunger is usually a slow build and we can feel it coming on, a hunger that happens due to an emotional trigger is usually fairly sudden and may even come immediately after eating.
Psychological hunger is usually connected to certain events or triggers. Feeling sad, happy, grief, anxious even bored can all trigger feeling hunger.
You may have had an extra-long and busy day, or some major event took place. You arrive home and your mind plays tricks and whispers in your ear that you absolutely deserve to eat a huge slice of chocolate cake after the day you’ve had.
It will definitely be a tastier compensation than the emotion you’re doing your best to hold back.
This sort of hunger can also be about replacing something that you feel is missing in your life. In the search for something you can’t quite put your finger on you found the chocolate cake. The feeling of seventh heaven it puts you in is fleeting so you find yourself craving something similar again and again.
The reward centre of the brain takes over. If it sends out certain emotional signals you will reward it with chocolate cake! It’s like the little child that gets a lolly to quiet it.
When you reach for the chocolate
What were you feeling at the time? Had something just happened? There should be absolutely no judgement. You are just looking to answer questions that will help you see a connection or pattern?
Slightly separate from psychological hunger in menopause is addiction based on habit
Dinner’s over. You settle in front of the T.V. and that’s when the snacks, chocolate, chips, soda or whatever come out.
You can’t remember a time when you didn’t have a snack at this time. We are now in the realms of habit. Breaking a habit such as this is not easy.
Stratagies to Control Menopause Hunger
Navigating the sea of information on hunger control can be overwhelming. I suggest, find what works for you and consulting your doctor. Remember to be gentle with yourself as maintaining a healthy weight in midlife isn’t a simple task, but it’s a crucial step in your journey toward making the most of life.
1. Dietry Tips
Include plenty of fiber in your diet
To effectively manage menopause hunger, focus on your diet.
Make sure to include fiber. Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer.
Incorporate fiber-rich foods such as: leafy greens, whole grains, and fresh fruits, which not only keep you feeling full but also support digestion.
Eat plenty of good protein
Protein is also good for keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
Good protein doesn’t have to come from animals. Nuts, seeds and legumes are all good sources.
Also consider lean meats fish and Greek yoghurt.
Pack in the veggies
High in fibre, vitamins and minerals, they fill you up with far fewer calories. And your gut is going to thank you for helping your digestion run like clockwork.
Don’t forget to stay well-hydrated; often, thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Drinking water before meals can assist in controlling your appetite and promoting healthy digestion.
When your mind turns to food,
And you know for certain that you’re not going to die from hunger anytime soon then think about taking your mind elsewhere.
Go for a walk in the park, do some yoga or meditation, phone a friend, journal, have a cup of tea. Anything that moves you away from the feeling. Coffee is a great appetite suppressant but remembers not after 1 or 2 in the afternoon and no more than 2 cups a day.
Physical activity is vital in your mission to manage menopausal hunger.
Combining aerobic exercises like brisk walking and cycling with strength training is good all round strategy.
Aerobic activities not only enhance overall fitness but also help regulate your appetite.
Strength training, on the other hand, builds muscle, which can boost your metabolism and prevent unwanted weight gain. Aim for a balanced exercise routine to address the physiological changes brought on by menopause.
Quality sleep is your ally in the battle against menopause hunger.
Establish a good night time routine which works for you. Include some of the following:
- dim lights – consider using something like these floor lamps or this table top lamp to create a nice atmosphere that signals it’s nearly time for bed.
- journal – who can resist a gorgeous journal like this one for recording your thoughts and getting stuff out of your head
- do an easy yoga routine
- practise some breathing techniques
- have a cup of caffeine free tea. Organic cammomile is my go to. Or check out this post for some other caffeine-free recipes.
A regular sleep schedule helps signal to your brain when it’s time to rest, improving your sleep quality. Adequate sleep is essential to maintaining hormonal balance and reducing the risk of constant hunger.
Drink plenty of water
Often thirst can be mistaken for hunger. Have a glass of water before you eat and give it a few minutes then see how you feel.
Water will also help with digestion by keeping our gut healthy and flushing through toxins.
Constant stress is the big boss of bad health and feeling hungry in menopause. Learn to manage stress effectively to prevent emotional eating and unwanted cravings.
My own personal holy trinity of destressing is to use breathing techniques, practice meditation and GET ENOUGH SLEEP.
Remember, less stress equates to better control over your appetite and overall well-being.
Related Post:How To Lose The Weight You Gain In Menopause
Putting on a little weight in midlife does not exclude you from some sort of elite group. Your aim is to be as healthy as you can without turning it into a crusade to live up to some sort of unrealistic expectation of what women should look like as we see in so much of the media today.
Feeling hungry in menopause is natural. How to stop menopause hunger is not some hidden piece of information. Put some easy strategies in place and you can easily control the weight gain that often comes with the changes you go through at this time of life.
Enjoy the process and feeling you get from eating well, exercising and being mindful. And don’t forget to treat yourself from time to time.
If you would like to see a video all about this hunger I found this for you to take a look at. Does menopause make you eat more?
Mindfulness and Distraction
Sometimes, the key to managing menopause hunger lies in redirecting your thoughts.
When cravings strike, find ways to shift your focus to other activities:
- go for a short walk
- call a friend
- or simply have a cup of tea
Coffee, a mild appetite suppressant, can also be a helpful tool, but avoid consuming it after 1 or 2 in the afternoon and limit your intake to no more than two cups a day.
These mindfulness and distraction techniques, can help you avoid unnecessary snacking.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I feel hungry all the time in menopause even after eating?
As you age and move into menopause the hunger-stimulating hormone Ghrelin increases causing many women to constantly feel hungry. Levels of Leptin the hormone that makes us feel satisfied, decrease. With more stress at this time, levels of the hormone cortisol increase. The cortisol managing hormone, estrogen levels decrease. This leads to increased hunger of the kind that triggers bad food choices.
How can I control my hunger in menopause?
The following healthy foods will help with menopause hunger:
- Good quality lean meats, poultry, fish and seafood.
- Nuts and seeds
- Dairy , especially Greek yoghurt
- Beans, lentils, chickpeas.
- Fill up on fiber rich foods such as kale and spinach.
- Drink plenty of water.
Be mindful when eating. Chew each mouthful well and take your time. Give time for you tummy to signal it is full.
What foods stop menopause hunger?
- Good quality lean proteins such as grass fe meats, poultry, fish and seafood, nuts, chia, linseed.
- Dairy , especially Greek yoghurt
- Beans, lentils, chickpeas
- Fill up on fiber rich foods such as kale and spinach
- Drink plenty of water
- Add healthy fats like olive oil, avocado oil, avocado to your diet.
What hormone makes you hungry in menopause?
Ghrelin is the hormone that increases as we age and estrogen decreases. Ghrelin stimulates appetite. Leptin and estrogen serve to dampen appetite. As estrogen lowers in perimenopause so does leptin, amplifying your hunger.
For more on controlling your menopause health check out this post: 7 Ways to Conquer Midlife Food Cravings