Changing hormone levels in the menopause could be sending your sugar cravings sky high. Food Scientist and Nutritional Therapist Susie Debice explains why your cravings could be driving you crazy and provides 10 nutrition tips to help curb sugar cravings to support better blood sugar balance for a smoother menopause.
The menopause is full of hormonal ups and downs! Having a better understanding of the challenges that you are likely to face helps you know what to do when the going gets tough. In terms of blood sugar balance and cravings there are three key areas of menopausal health which could be involved with sugar cravings – fatigue, weight gain and fraught emotions.
Fatigue and carb cravings – what’s the link?
One of the most common symptoms of the menopause is unexplained fatigue. One day you can feel your normal self then the next day you could wake feeling utterly exhausted for no apparent reason. These days of fatigue are caused by changing hormone levels and rather than pushing yourself, it’s best, if you can, to just rest and take it easy. Give your body the time it needs to help adjust to the fluctuating hormone levels and find a place of balance. When tired, the body searches for energy and it is dietary carbohydrate and sugar which the body can readily convert into fuel. This is why, on days when you are feeling tired and depleted, sugar cravings might start to feel unmanageable. Supplementing with B vitamins is key to helping support energy-yielding metabolism, reducing tiredness and fatigue, supporting normal psychological function and helping regulate normal hormonal activity. Cleanmarine Menomin contains vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid and biotin for a daily supplement of B vitamins.
Fully charged emotions
You might think you can breeze your way through the menopause, but at some point your emotions are likely to get the better of you! Fluctuating oestrogen and progesterone levels may mean that there are days when you feel quickly overwhelmed or short fused in situations that you would usually handle with ease and grace. Researchers have been exploring how changes in hormones like oestrogen and progesterone impact on neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine which influence our mood and emotions. What’s being uncovered is that when oestrogen and serotonin levels are low, which is a typical hormone pattern of the menopause, cravings for carbohydrates may become heightened for some women. Reaching for quick fix carbohydrates might seem completely tempting but that just sets you up for that all too familiar sugar and mood highs and lows.
Cutting back on calories
It’s not unusual to put on a few extra pounds as you hit the menopause. The hormonal transition that your body is going through tends to also impact the metabolism. You may start to notice that maintaining your normal healthy body weight becomes much more challenging and that days of fatigue mean you are less motivated to do regular exercise. If menopausal weight gain has been getting you down and you feel inspired to take steps to shake off those extra pounds, then be mindful about the weight loss strategy that you choose.
Leaving long gaps in between meals, skipping meals, and drastically reducing your calories or following dieting strategies that completely eliminate carbs may be short-sighted. These could all simply set you up for blood sugar lows which are typically followed by increased sugar cravings. Instead, aim to focus on a healthy lifestyle to help support your general wellbeing as well as help you achieve your desired weight, in a sensible timescale. Instead of cutting out carbs take the time to know which carbs to include and which carbs to reduce to help curb sugar cravings. Achieving your goals and maintaining a healthy weight is so much easier without nagging sugar cravings.
10 TOP TIPS TO CURB SUGAR CRAVINGS
- Limit caffeine to one cup of tea or coffee a day
- Avoid drinks high in sugar – fruit juice, smoothies, fizzy drinks, squash
- Cut back on foods that contain refined sugar - cereals, yoghurts, confectionery, cakes, biscuits, puddings
- Swap refined carbs (white bread, rice, pasta, flour) for wholegrain (brown bread, brown rice, wholegrain pasta, wholemeal flour)
- Increase complex carbs – lentils, pulses, wholegrains, fruits and vegetables
- Aim to achieve your 5-a-day
- Keep hydrated with 1-2 litres of water a day
- Eat small regular meals and snacks, avoid missing meals
- If you are craving something sweet eat a piece of fresh fruit
- Swap milk chocolate for dark chocolate
Using this guide to help remind you of how to get back on track if you stray from your new healthy eating plan might just help you quickly step off the mood and sugar roller coaster for a smoother menopause.