The hormonal fluctuations at menopause do mean extra weight can settle around your stomach, abdomen and thighs.
Less muscle mass, and too little sleep from hot flushes, can all lead to added pounds. If you wake up tired, you’re more likely to want to turn to snacks for a boost of energy later in the day.
If you need a little extra help here are some factors you may not have considered.
At menopause disturbed sleep is common, but if you get too little – less than 5 hours a night – then it can be linked to weight gain.
Even too much sleep, if you experience more than 9 hours, can throw off the way your body makes the hormones that control your appetite and hunger.
Fluid retention is again common at menopause, but a sensible amount of plain water can help you lose extra pounds.
Water has no calories at all, so it satisfies your thirst without adding weight. When you drink enough water, you may be less likely to grab soft drinks, juices, or hot drinks packed with sugar such as takeaway treats like lattes, particularly the flavoured ones.
A regular food intake
When you space out your meals too much, your metabolism slows down and isn’t able to burn off all the calories you eat in your next meal.
Those extra calories can contribute to extra weight and, more importantly, you may overeat because you’re too hungry.
Try eating smaller portions, and eat more often.
Eating out and take away food
If you are too busy, or you don’t really like to cook, then take aways and eating out seem like a good option.
Take away food can be notoriously high in calories and even the ‘light’ option in a restaurant can rack up more calories than you think and so it may be harder to keep your weight under control.
If you love Indian food, chicken korma and pilau rice gives you 1,100 calories and 60g fat and with naan bread and poppadoms and it could easily reach 1,300-1,400 calories. Best choice for dieters is tandoori chicken with half a naan or half portion of boiled rice for only 380 calories and 10g fat.
If Chinese food is your preference then avoid anything deep fried like sweet and sour pork balls with special fried rice. That will cost you 1,100 calories and 37g fat and adds up to well over half your daily calorie intake. A Which? survey revealed it can also have up to 19 teaspoons of sugar if you eat all the sauce,
Better choice would be chicken chow mein at 860 calories and 30g fat and if you are having rice make it a small portion and avoid fried rice as it has 50 per cent more calories than plain.
Sitting too much
Whether as part of your job, or too much TV watching, sitting too long may make it harder for you to lose weight.
When you sit most of the time, your body can lose its ability to know when you’ve eaten too much and that means you can overeat and gain weight.
Even brief exercise breaks during the day can help you stay healthy so try ‘cheating’ and stand up for a while and try walking in place while washing up for example.
If you can then get up for three 10-minute walks around the room while listening to the radio or your favorite shows.
Using food as a reward
Exercise is a great way to lose weight, it burns calories and builds muscle mass, but if you teat yourself to a big dinner or smoothie after every workout you can ruin all that good work.
Reward yourself with a healthy meal or snack and sparkling mineral water with some vanilla extract or a small amount of juice in it to help you refresh.
Watch out for high-sugar sports drinks and protein bars as they can help quench your thirst, or give you an energy boost post-workout, but they can be very high in calories and sugar.
Alcohol adds calories
Whether you like wine, beer, or mixed drinks, alcohol has calories that add to your daily amount.
If you often have 3 or more drinks a day, you’re more likely to gain weight or be overweight, no matter what type of alcohol you drink or how well you diet.
Stick to light or moderate drinking, like one glass of wine with dinner and that may actually help keep you from gaining weight.
Snacking when stressed
We already know that stress unbalances our hormonal system and affects most of our bodily functions.
If your response to stress is to eat, then that is a recipe for weight gain as you may eat when you don’t really need food, or are actually hungry.
Try to tackle the source of the stress and rather than reaching for unhealthy, high-calorie treats for a quick comfort fix set yourself up a ’stress box’ with healthier low calorie items such as apples, oranges and protein fillers such as cottage cheese.
If you haven’t planned out your food intake for the day you are likely to just grab something on the run and that is rarely a healthy or low-calorie option.
Try to plan out your meals and healthy snacks so you are prepared when hunger strikes. You can gain an extra pound or two if you tend to eat fast food or sugary snacks or soft drinks as your body doesn’t seem to treat these calories the same as energy you get from healthy foods.
It breaks them down too quickly and because they tend to also be low in fibre you don’t feel full afterward and you’re likely to eat or drink more.
Check your thyroid
If you have an under active thyroid then you could gain as much as 5 to 10 extra pounds.
Your thyroid makes hormones that control your energy level and how your body breaks down food. If you don’t make enough of them, it can be hard to shed pounds and you may also feel bloated because your body holds on to too much water and salt.
If low thyroid is your problem then bioidentical natural progesterone can help as it acts as a natural diuretic to help with the bloating and expelling water from the body and it also supports normal thyroid function.
Weight gain has many factors and hormone balance and a healthy diet and exercise are the key components.
If your weight is just not shifting see if any of these factors may be affecting you, and take small steps to change them where you can.