How to kick menopausal sugar cravings
How to satisfy your cravings without reaching for a block of chocolate or a bottle of wine.
Have you noticed your sugar cravings getting more intense as menopause approaches? Can’t stop dreaming of ice-cream and Tim Tams? Maryl-Ann Marshall accredited dietitian for Lite n’ Easy, shares why many women experience intense cravings for sugary foods during menopause and tips to help manage these menopausal food cravings.
With changing hormonal levels throughout menopause, it can be common for food cravings to start creeping in. Before you reach for sugar-loaded snacks, take a moment to assess all of your meals and what might be causing your hunger levels to spike at certain times of the day. Over consuming sugar can in turn disrupt your hormones and lead to potential weight gain.
1. Protein and good fats
Eating a healthy, protein-rich meal is especially good for curbing hunger. It’s essential to aim for a balance of nutrients in every meal. This will help you keep full for longer and balance your blood sugar levels. Choose protein sources such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products and tofu. Include healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil and avocado to your diet and avoid anything too processed.
2. Eat foods high in fibre
High fibre foods like vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and seeds can increase insulin sensitivity and keep you feeling fuller for longer. And add whole-grain or low GI carbohydrate sources such as multigrain bread, rice, sweet potatoes and pasta to your diet too. These foods are also great for gut health, which many of us struggle with as we get older.
3. Practice mindful eating
Mindful eating can help reduce stress and improve your relationship with food, so you end up eating less. Eat your meals more slowly and don’t rush through your mealtime. Ensure you’re sitting at the table and eliminate distractions like the TV or your phone.
4. Be prepared
Always in a rush? Reduce the temptation of unhealthy takeaways by planning your meals ahead of time. While convenient, these meals can contain large amounts of sodium and fat and can promote weight gain. Need a better solution? Have healthy and convenient meals ready to go in the fridge and freezer. This way, you can eliminate any last-minute decisions to eat unhealthy options and will be less tempted and less likely to experience cravings.
5. Don’t deprive yourself
When it comes to healthy eating, it’s helpful to focus on the all the foods you can eat plenty of, rather than focusing on the foods to limit that lack nutritional value. Don’t deprive yourself of all the foods you like, but take it in moderation. Completely depriving yourself can sometimes have negative consequences and lead to bingeing, so it can be a good idea to plan when you want a treat. Occasional treats helps you to stay on track 90% of the time, and to enjoy these planned treats without overindulging.
6. Healthy swaps
If you’re surrounded by temptation, why not make some healthy swaps? This can help to satisfy your cravings with some healthier options. Many women find their hot flushes can be exacerbated with alcohol. Add some fresh herbs like mint, citrus fruit, berries or slices cucumber to sparkling water to make cocktail hour a little more interesting and healthy. Or brew some herbal tea, which can be enjoyed hot or cold. This can help take the edge off your cravings without the extra calories. Carrots and celery with sticks with hummus or tzatziki, a small portion of cheese and whole grain crackers or some natural yoghurt with berries make for great snacks when you’re feeling peckish.