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  • Writer's pictureJo Leccacorvi

Are You Always Thinking About Food?

Navigating perimenopause can feel like an emotional and physical roller coaster. Amongst the hormonal changes, one common struggle many women face is a change to their weight and a preoccupation with food. If you find yourself always thinking about your next meal, battling cravings, or feeling out of control around food, you are not alone.

 



 

Does this sound familiar, you’ve Tried Every Diet There Is, and They Work at the Start, but Eventually They’re Too Hard to Maintain and You Fall Off the Wagon?

Many perimenopausal women have been through the diet cycle multiple times. You start a new diet with enthusiasm, and initially, it seems to work. You might lose a few pounds, feel more energetic, and even receive compliments. However, as time goes on, the restrictions become harder to follow. Social events, stress, or sheer monotony make it difficult to stick to the plan. Eventually, you "fall off the wagon," and the weight often comes back, sometimes even more than before. This cycle is not your fault. Perimenopause brings about significant hormonal changes that can impact your metabolism, hunger cues, and even your body's preference for certain foods. Instead of blaming yourself for a lack of willpower, recognise that these diets are often not designed with the unique needs of perimenopausal women in mind. The key is to find a sustainable way of eating that supports your changing body.

 

Do You Use Food to Soothe Feelings Like Stress, Boredom, Low Mood, and Anxiety, but End Up Feeling Worse After Eating?

Emotional eating is another common issue during perimenopause. The hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings, anxiety, and depression, making you more likely to reach for food as a coping mechanism. While eating may provide temporary relief, it often leaves you feeling worse afterward, both physically and emotionally. The guilt and shame associated with emotional eating can further exacerbate stress and anxiety, creating a vicious cycle. It’s crucial to develop healthier coping mechanisms. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises, can help manage stress. Engaging in activities that bring you joy, like hobbies or spending time with loved ones, can also provide emotional fulfilment without resorting to food.

 

Do You Try to Control Your Weight, but Find It Going Up Over Time?

Perimenopause can make weight management particularly challenging. Hormonal shifts often lead to weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Despite your best efforts to control your weight, you might find the number on the scale steadily increasing. This can be incredibly frustrating and disheartening. Understanding that weight gain during perimenopause is common and partly due to biological changes can help you approach this issue with more compassion. Rather than focusing solely on the scale, consider other measures of health and well-being, such as energy levels, strength, and overall mood. Incorporating regular physical activity that you enjoy and building muscle through strength training can also help manage weight and improve overall health.

 

Do You Know How to Eat, and What You “Should” Eat, but Find It Hard to Actually Do this

Knowledge is not always the problem. You might be well aware of what constitutes a healthy diet, yet putting that knowledge into practice can be a different story. The constant barrage of information on what you “should” eat can also be overwhelming and confusing, leading to inaction or rebellion against strict guidelines. Behavioural change is often more about forming new habits rather than acquiring new knowledge. Start with small, manageable changes that fit into your lifestyle. For instance, if you know that you should eat more vegetables, try adding one extra serving to your dinner rather than overhauling your entire diet overnight. Gradual changes are more sustainable and less overwhelming.

 

Do You Feel Like Food Controls You Every Day

When food occupies a significant portion of your thoughts and dictates your daily actions, it can feel like it has taken over your life. This preoccupation can stem from a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. The pressure to maintain a certain body image, coupled with the emotional and hormonal challenges of perimenopause, can make food seem like an ever-present concern. Acknowledging this issue is the first step toward regaining control. Developing a more mindful approach to eating can help you reconnect with your body’s natural signals and reduce the power food holds over you.

 

Practical Tips for a Healthier Relationship with Food

Breaking free from the cycle of food obsession is possible. Here are some practical tips you can implement right away:

 

Focus on What Nutritious Foods You Can Start Adding into Your Day, Rather Than What to Stop Eating

Rather than depriving yourself of certain foods, focus on incorporating more nutritious options into your diet. This positive approach can help you feel more satisfied and less restricted. For example, add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins to your meals. This way, you’re nourishing your body and supporting your health without feeling like you’re missing out.

 

Listen to Your Hunger and Fullness Cues as a Guide to When to Begin and Finish Eating

Reconnecting with your body’s natural hunger and fullness signals can help you eat more intuitively. Before eating, take a moment to assess your hunger level. Are you eating because you’re truly hungry or because you’re bored or stressed? Similarly, pay attention to your body’s signals during meals. Eat slowly and mindfully, and stop when you feel satisfied rather than stuffed.

 

Consider the Labels You Place on Foods (Like “Good” and “Bad”) and How These Might Be Fuelling Binge and Comfort Eating

Labelling foods as “good” or “bad” can create an unhealthy relationship with food. This black-and-white thinking can lead to guilt and shame when you eat something you consider “bad,” which in turn can trigger binge or comfort eating. Try to view food more neutrally. All foods can fit into a healthy diet when eaten in moderation. By removing these labels, you can reduce the emotional charge around eating and make more balanced choices.

 

The journey through perimenopause is challenging, especially when it comes to maintaining a healthy relationship with food. Understanding the factors at play and implementing practical strategies can help you break free from the cycle of food obsession. Focus on adding nutritious foods to your diet, listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and reconsider how you label foods. These steps can empower you to regain control and find peace with food during this transitional phase of life. Remember, it’s not about perfection but about making small, sustainable changes that support your well-being

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