The Menopause Expert - Rebecca Hulem

Weight Gain, Eating and Hormones: What is the Connection?

By Monika Klein, B.S., C.N., Clinical Nutrition and Lifestyle Coach

I am sure that many of you have read Suzanne Somer's latest two books "The Sexy Years" and "Slim and Sexy Forever." Having worked with many of the physicians referred to in these books, I have gained some valuable tools for effectively helping women face the changes in their body, mind and spirit associated with menopause.

Based on the results of the Menopause Moment Survey, many women are concerned about menopausal "weight gain". I have been a clinical nutritionist for over 14 years and have most recently been trained in the lifestyle and nutrition principles of Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., Suzanne Somer's endocrinologist. I have used these principles in practice with great results for the past 2 years. I have counseled countless peri-menopausal, menopausal and post menopausal women over the course of my health care career. I feel I can offer you some tips about what is important to consider while attempting weight reduction before and after menopause.

Two often overlooked factors are: checking your adrenal glands and your insulin sensitivity. Insulin sensitivity can be determined through blood work and adrenal stress levels can be determined through a salivary test. Coming from an alternative health perspective, I address weight management, using various modalities such as diet, exercise, herbal remedies, vitamin therapy, homeopathy, and sleep and stress management. I tend to use more natural supplements and homeopathic remedies versus recommending HRT.

Another thought on nutrition that I'd like you to ponder, is that weight gain is no longer thought to be caused only by "calories in and calories out". We now know that our body composition is greatly dependent on having balanced hormones. It is also dependent on having a digestive tract that is healthy. Constipation, bloat, heartburn and gas, indicate an unhealthy gastrointestinal tract. An unhealthy digestive tract will not perform correctly and weight imbalances occur. Food allergies also constitute an onslaught on our digestive and immune systems often causing weight gain as well.

One health regimen that I have become a big proponent of is a regular detoxification program, twice a year (spring and fall) if you can. This process rids the body of an accumulation of toxins hindering our body's ability to eliminate properly often creating excess weight.

Also, thyroid and other hormonal imbalances naturally are a common occurrence during the perimenopause and menopause stages of our lives, however many of the above causes could also be culprits when it comes to those impossible pounds.

Eating is an important shared human experience. However, it is not only what we eat but also how we eat. Are we racing out the door eating our breakfast or munching on our lunch in the car on our way while doing a myriad of errands?

These habits not only stress out our already burnt-out adrenal glands creating us to constantly be in a state of fight or flight, but they can strongly affect how we process and utilize what we consume. Are we creating possible food allergens because we are not digesting our food properly? As we go through these "wise years" we can no longer get away with many of our "non-nurturing habits," we can not do what we used to do so we need to take better care of our whole selves.

Now for the specific dietary guidelines I recommend in helping you with hormone balancing and weight loss:

  • Eat 5 meals per day - 3 meals and 2 snacks. Eating every 3-4 hours is best.
  • Always eat proteins with carbohydrates - to balance hormones. Proteins alone will stress your adrenal glands and eating carbohydrates alone could prove problematic for blood sugar/insulin balance.
  • Protein portions are usually determined based on body weight, however on average I would recommend between 2-5 ounces per meal and 1-3 ounces per snack.
  • A Good Balanced Diet - This includes quality proteins, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, limited amounts of starchy carbohydrates which include starchy vegetables, beans, complex grains and fruits - those are pretty much the "4 Food Groups."
  • Adequate amounts of pure filtered water - You should be drinking - your body weight in water (ie 150 lb. woman should drink 75 oz of water per day). This helps to cleanse your body, improve elimination and improve hydration of the skin. In addition if you take a high quality fish oil much of the menopausal dry skin should be relieved with this combination.
  • Sleep Maintenance - It's important to have at least 8-10 hours of uninterrupted sleep. This helps bring your overworked adrenal glands in order.
  • Stress Management - Many techniques to manage stress are used in my programs. I often call my Hormonal Balancing Program "The Do Less Program" - learning how to make that a reality in your life.
  • Healthy Exercise - Adaptive and stretching versus excessive aerobic exercise will have beneficial benefits for your adrenal glands and insulin balance. Overdoing the aerobic portion of your exercise will increase Stress Hormones which is something we do not want to do while trying to restore balance.
  • High Quality Supplements - It's very important to get the best quality supplements available, usually found in your health care practitioner's office. Especially when using products like fish oil, CoQ 10, Vitamin E, virtually any supplement containing oils, it is so very crucial to get the best quality. Oils are vulnerable and can easily become rancid during and prior to processing.

In closing, it's very important to consider what you are eating first and foremost and then supplementing your daily regimen with the additional herbs, homeopathic remedies and if needed HRT. As Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, so eloquently stated "Let Food Be Your Best Medicine."

If you would like to reach me for further information or to schedule a phone or office consultation please contact me at or 818-991-4510. I am also listed on the Schwarzbein Principle Web site as a Schwarzbein Referral Practitioner.

Here's to your continued focus on having a well balanced life!

RJH Communications 
Brentwood, CA 94513  
(818) 425-2886 


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