Why food restriction or excessive exercise negatively affect women’s hormonal health and may worsen menopausal symptoms.
As days go by, just the thought that one day IT might be here, the hot flushes, those sleepless nights and mainly that dreaded weight gain can leave you thinking: How will I manage this.
It’s natural that after years of dieting and trying to lose weight you might feel a bit anxious and seek advice on how to go through this phase with the least damage.
Although you might be secretly welcoming it as a universal sign to stop trying so hard and just live for once, after all, there's not much you can do about that anyway.
The truth is, there is so much that you can do, but restricting your food or trying another “proven“ diet is none of that. In fact, this could hurt your body and your health even more than those foods you fear so much.
But what else if not a diet? How can you manage menopausal weight gain if you won’t be precautious about what you eat?
Here is a fact, any way of restriction on your body or mind always leads to compensation behaviour. Imagine holding your breath for some time and then trying to resume normal breathing right away, it wil be almost impossible, wouldn’t be? You will instead grasp for a recovery breath and be grateful for every bit you can get into your lungs.
This is the same regulatory system that is in charge of your hunger and fullness cues. So after a time of intentional restriction, your hunger cues become louder so it will be harder for you to resist food. So you most likely eat more than you were intended to in order to recover your body from starvation.
You ask, how does this affect your hormones and your body during menopause?
Your body likes to keep everything in homeostasis, the state of sameness, and it has a regulatory system to do so. So when one thing switches off - your ovaries in case of menopause, and stop producing your well-needed hormones, it has a system to kick in and replace their function - your adrenal glands.
The problem is if your adrenal glands are already preoccupied with producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. And as they take priority on the importance scale of your body, your women’s health hormones production will be neglected. Causing estrogen dominance.
So where does the stress comes from and what it has to do with your way of eating?
Undereating or intentional restriction sends a signal to your body that it needs to fight for survival. Therefore your body starts creating cortisol to survive and adrenaline to keep you alert when the primary source of energy is scarce.
A high concentration of these hormones causes body inflammation that may interfere with other hormonal processes in your body and causes metabolic stress. Your metabolism will slow down also your digestion wil be slower which can cause bloating, gassiness or constipation.
Low levels of progesterone negatively affect your metabolism and also your mental health. Leaving you more prone to weight gain and anxiety or depression.
So it suffices to say that intentional weight loss may cause weight gain, slower metabolism, digestive problems and negatively affect your mental health.
When I work with women beyond 40 the first thing we focus on is to lower the stress and inflammation in their body, by managing their day to day life and also focusing on nourishment rather than restriction. Building a connection to their hunger and fullness signals and supporting their body's self-regulatory system, so they can get through menopause without negative changes or problems. They learn how to become intuitive eaters and how to reach and keep their natural weight range without dieting.
Grab your free guide to STOP Binge and Overeating HERE