Menopause Health: Managing Weight Gain and Hot Flashes

by Sue McKinney August 28, 2020 2 min read

Menopause brings many unwelcome surprises. Even before the first period is missed, the bathroom scales begin to offer a glimpse of what is to come, even for those who have led active and healthy lives.

The driving force behind menopausal weight-gain is the loss of estrogen. Unfortunately a widening waist line is not the only issue related to lower levels of hormones in our body. As the change continues a key concern is deterioration of muscle mass. Lower density muscle means less energy is burned, which in turn, is a recipe for a slower metabolism often resulting in unwelcome weight gain.

Many health care practitioners will tell you that after hot flashes, weight gain is one of the top complaints from menopausal women. One thing that confounds many women is the sudden increase in weight without any change in diet or exercise.  The sudden weight gain, most commonly materializing as a ‘spare tire’ around the waist, is not only frustrating but can also impact long-term health if not dealt with early in the process.

It is not all a total mystery. Upon closer examination, we can identify some common practices which often multiply the weight gaining effect of the change. After all, food is our most regularly consumed medicine. The early Greek philosopher Hippocrates was known for the wisdom that states, “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”  So we really should keep a keener eye on what fuels our bodies.  The hard fact is as we age we have to adapt our diet and exercise accordingly. Aging bodies simply can’t burn off excess calories like our younger selves could. 

As you acquire more information about this stage of your life, you can become more proactive and better empowered to make good decisions about your wellness options and alternatives. Studies have found that even moderate diet changes can have a huge effect on menopausal bodies.  Studies have also shown that women who eat diets rich in fruit, nuts and whole grains suffer fewer hot flashes than those who do not.

For example, consider taking a closer look at the glycemic index of the foods you eat every day. By cutting down on bread and other foods high in carbohydrates, as well as eating a range of foods low on the index, you can help to  keep your blood sugar low, giving you a better chance to effectively manage your weight. Readily available low glycemic choices include beans, legumes and sweet potatoes, and fruits such as apples, oranges and grapes.

Staying trim in our golden years involves more frequent exercise as well as knowing when to put down the fork. If you can walk 30 minutes each day and find time for aerobic exercise that will work up a good sweat three times per week, you should find the change much easier.

Finding the right balance between diet and exercise helps to keep the body trim, the hot flashes at bay and spare tire in the trunk!

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