As perimenopause and menopause arrive, so does the possibility of weight gain – not the best welcome to this new phase of life, right? As a result, you may be looking for solutions to manage your menopausal weight gain, and your sugar intake could be one of the first things that comes to mind.
But have you been left wondering whether sugar substitutes are the answer? Will they make any difference to your weight, and are they healthy?
Don’t worry. You can still enjoy a bit of sweetness here and there! In this article, we’ll aim to unravel a few of the mysteries surrounding sugar and its alternatives.
Let’s look at why menopause might cause you to pack on the pounds, some of the reasons you could be craving sugar, and whether sugar substitutes can help with weight management during menopause. Finally, we’ll look at some of the healthiest alternatives to refined sugar to help you make nourishing choices without sacrificing the tasty treats!
Why is it Common to Gain Weight During Menopause?
Menopause brings about a hormonal rollercoaster that can have unexpected effects, including weight gain. Take insulin, a hormone that helps you manage your blood sugar levels. During menopause, the reduction in oestrogen and progesterone levels leads to an increase in insulin resistance. It’s like your body’s sugar management system is getting a bit finicky, potentially leading to those extra kilos.
Although they’re arguably the main one, hormones aren’t the sole culprit for weight gain during menopause. Aging introduces changes in body composition, with reduced muscle mass and increased fat storage being a likely scenario. Stress levels and poor sleep quality (common menopausal complaints) play their role, as do alterations in the gut microbiome, changes in fat distribution, and changes in physical activity levels.
Why am I Craving More Sugar During Menopause?
Menopause brings with it some unexpected cravings – particularly for all things sugary. You might find yourself eyeing that candy dish more often, wondering why your desire for sweet treats has suddenly skyrocketed. Well, there’s more to it than meets the eye, and it’s not just a coincidence that your sugar cravings are ramping up during this time.
You already know that reduced insulin can cause trouble managing your blood sugar. Subsequently, your cravings for quick-fix sweet treats may increase.
But that’s not all. The drop in estrogen and progesterone can also tinker with cortisol – the stress hormone that loves to shake things up. It’s a cocktail of hormonal mischief, not only affecting your cravings but also your stress levels and sleep patterns. This hormonal tango can throw your appetite regulation off balance, making those sugary snacks seem more enticing than ever.
Your nutritional needs are changing, too, and if you’re not meeting them, your body might respond with some serious sugar longings. For example, a magnesium deficiency can increase sugar cravings. If you have one, it could be one of the reasons you want to eat more chocolate during menopause, as chocolate is high in magnesium (and often sugar).
Can Sugar Substitutes Help With Menopausal Weight Management?
Healthier Sugar Substitutes to Satisfy Your Sweet Cravings During Menopause
When those sweet cravings hit, plenty of healthier alternatives exist. Natural, minimally processed sweeteners are your allies in this journey. These options indulge your taste buds and provide your body with essential nutrients.
For those mindful of their calorie intake, natural zero-calorie choices like monk fruit and stevia will grant you the touch of sweetness you crave.
Nature has a bountiful array of additional sugar substitutes waiting for you. Sure, they have a few calories. However, they’re minimally processed, offer some nutritional contribution to your body, and, due to a combination of factors, should be gentler on your waistline.
Raw honey, brimming with nutrients and boasting a low glycemic load, is a nourishing dietary addition.
Those yearning for a natural caramel flavour can try dates as a snack or in recipes.
Fresh or pureed fruit such as apples, bananas, or berries packs in vitamins, fibre, and hydration, helping to keep you satiated.
Maple syrup and blackstrap molasses are minimally processed, offering sweetness with a healthy dose of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Coconut sugar is an easy alternative to regular sugar, providing minerals, antioxidants, and a familiar taste and texture.
Check out these recipes to make delicious treats free from refined sugar!
In Conclusion | Sugar Substitutes for Managing Menopausal Weight Gain
As the curtain falls on our exploration of sugar substitutes and menopausal weight management, remember – this journey isn’t black and white. Whether sugar substitutes assist or impede your battle against menopausal weight gain is as complex as the hormones orchestrating this stage of life. Several factors can cause menopausal weight gain, and your hormones have much to answer for!
Artificial sweeteners may or may not help you lose weight, but you might want to minimise them for other reasons.
There’s no need for drastic measures. Swapping out regular sugar for healthier alternatives can steer your path toward improved nutrition and better blood sugar control. So, embrace those nuanced choices, relish the sweet moments, and stride confidently through this chapter of your life – empowered, informed, and nourished.