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Appetite Through The Roof During Menopause? You’re Not Alone.

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It’s 2:30pm — you’ve just had lunch about two hours ago, but your stomach is rumbling, begging you for a snack (preferably some carbs). We’ve all been there, but why OH WHY do women experience food cravings so much more frequently come perimenopause?

If you’re feeling like your appetite is suddenly through the roof, know that it’s not just you. In a five-year women’s health study which concluded in 2014, researchers found that the psychological desire to eat, as well as hunger and food consumption, all increased during the menopausal transition and remained high during postmenopausal years. While the study was small (only 94 participants), it’s still telling.

Why menopause affects appetite

Why menopause affects appetite all comes down to…surprise, surprise…hormonal changes.

  • Increased ghrelin, aka our hunger hormone
  • Decreased leptin, which is what promotes feelings of fullness
  • Increased cortisol, the stress hormone that, in excess, can cause overeating
  • Decreased estrogen and estradiol which, like leptin, typically help regulate our appetite, metabolism, and body weight

What you can do about it

We’re big proponents of intuitive eating and listening to your body when you feel hungry, but if you’re finding that your appetite changes are a bit too wonky for comfort, there are things you can do to try and reign it in.

  • Focus on getting enough sleep
    Poor sleep can cause hormonal fluctuations, including increases in cortisol. Plus, because our bodies receive hunger signals from hormones such as ghrelin and leptin, a disrupted sleep cycle can lead to patterns of overeating. In fact, a study conducted by the American Heart Association found that people who slept an hour and 20 minutes less consumed 549 more calories than the control group.

Hot flashes/night sweats keeping you up? Here’s what you can do about it.

  • Don’t fear the healthy fats!
    Diversify your diet with a wide range of whole, nutrient-dense foods that increase satiety, especially veggies, whole grains, and healthy, high-fat foods (e.g., olive oil, avocados, nuts like almonds and walnuts, and fatty fish).
  • Increase your intake of organic whole soy products and flaxseed
    Both of which boast mild estrogenic effects.

Interested in diving deeper into weight gain, one of the most common menopause symptoms? We’ve got you covered: