Updated: Nov 8
For many of us, the pursuit of a healthy weight has been a lifelong struggle. The cycle of losing weight, only to gain it back later, is all too familiar.
Watching weight during the menopausal stage is not about adhering to stringent diets that promise quick fixes; in reality, many women find that their bodies respond quite differently to such diets at this life stage compared to earlier times.
Rather, it's about fostering a mentality that leans towards body positivity, mindfulness, and self-care.
As you navigate this critical stage of life, it is hugely beneficial to embrace healthy dietary habits that;
Nourish your body
Protect your long-term health
and potentially alleviate menopausal symptoms.
The goal is to strike a balance between appreciating one’s body and working to avoid obesity through a sustained, healthy approach to nutrition. This not only helps in managing the physical changes that come with menopause but also in supporting and protecting long-term health.
Therefore, now might be a beneficial time to explore intuitive eating.
Understanding Intuitive Eating
Intuitive eating is a powerful antidote to the dieting mindset, while still prioritising healthy eating. Pioneered in the 1990s by two American dietitians, this approach is a liberating departure from the never-ending dieting cycle. It strongly emphasises fostering body acceptance while remaining mindful of the health risks linked to unhealthy eating habits.
Intuitive eating helps you tune back into your body's natural hunger and fullness cues, encouraging a better relationship with food and your body. Unlike traditional diets and their confinements, intuitive eating guides you to rebuild trust in yourself, your body, and your natural instincts when making food choices.
Intuitive eating can have many advantages during the menopausal phase, and it has the potential to revolutionise your connection with food.
Embracing Intuitive Eating Dring Menopause:
For those diet-weary women I see, stopping diets during menopause can be a bit perplexing, especially when we're grappling with the extra pounds that seem more stubborn than ever. Nevertheless, it's a perspective shift well worth considering. Instead of focusing on what to remove from your diet, we shift our perspective to what we can add to it.
The Dieting Stress Factor:
One key reason to pause the dieting mentality during menopause is to reduce stress. Dieting and food restrictions can be inherently stressful, increasing cortisol levels. During menopause, the primary goal is to balance and support our hormones; to do this, we need to minimise stress.
Food restrictions can also mean nutrient restrictions. Menopause is a phase of life where our bodies require essential nutrients more than ever. It's a time to nourish ourselves comprehensively.
The Principles of Intuitive Eating
The beautiful thing about intuitive eating is that it's adaptable. It allows you to reconnect with your body's signals, helping you navigate appetite changes, cravings, and emotional eating with more grace and understanding.
Let's delve into how the principles of intuitive eating align with the challenges of menopause:
1. Reject the Diet Mentality:
I ALWAYS tell clients "Don't Diet"!
Menopause is a period to prioritise nourishment, not endure deprivation. Avoid diet endorsements promising quick fixes. Instead, embrace a holistic approach to your well-being, focusing on health and balance.
2. Recognise Your Hunger:
Listen to your body's hunger cues, especially as your metabolism may shift during menopause. Respond to these cues with nutritious snacks to keep your energy levels steady. Nourish your body consistently with the right balance of energy and carbohydrates. Neglecting this can activate an instinctual urge to binge.
When extreme hunger strikes, the idea of mindful eating tends to fly out the window ⋆｡˚ ✈︎ ✈️ ⋆
3. Make Peace with Food:
Embrace a calm relationship with all foods. Enjoy what you love without feeling guilty, and make every meal satisfying. Avoid labelling foods as "off-limits" to prevent uncontrollable cravings and binge eating.
4. Challenge the 'Food Police':
Eliminate negative thoughts that label foods 'good' or 'bad.' Such judgments often lead to feelings of failure and guilt.
5. Feel Your Fullness:
Think before you eat. Tune into your hunger levels and eat when you're hungry. Pause during meals to assess taste and fullness. Stop when comfortably full.
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor:
Savour your meals without distractions. Don't eat in the car or while sitting at your desk typing an email or even when watching TV. Eating mindfully can help you appreciate and enjoy your food.
7. Cope with Emotions without Food:
Find alternative ways to deal with stress, sadness, boredom, or loneliness. Food may offer temporary relief but won't address underlying emotions or solve problems. Emotional eating tends to make us feel worse in the long run.
8. Respect Your Body:
Celebrate your unique body shape and size. Embrace body acceptance and make choices based on logic rather than emotion. It is tough to reject the diet mentality when we are overly unrealistic and critical about body shape and size.
Accept, too, that bodies change over time, frustrating as that may seem.
9. Exercise and Feel the Difference:
Shift your focus from burning calories to how exercise makes you feel. Choose activities you enjoy, enhancing your overall well-being.
10. Honour Your Health:
Opt for meals and snacks that are both nutritious and satisfying. Remember, one slip doesn't define your long-term health. It is what you eat consistently that matters.
Progress, not perfection.
Starting to eat intuitively might seem hard at first, particularly if you're used to strict diets.
Simple Tips for Intuitive Eating During Menopause:
If you're wondering how to start, try focusing on these three steps:
1. Eat Mindfully: Enjoy every bite and pay attention to how full you are getting.
2. Try New Foods: Menopause doesn't mean you have to eat bland foods. Try new things to keep meals interesting.
3. Handle Stress Well: Use methods like meditation or yoga to reduce stress and avoid emotional eating.
Remember, menopause is a time to learn more about yourself, including how you relate to food. Be patient and kind to yourself as you learn the principles of intuitive eating.
And it's okay to ask for help if you need it.
I'm here to support you throughout your journey. Feel free to reach out if you need guidance, help staying consistent, or are concerned about other issues you might be facing.
Please do contact me, the link is below.