How Your Emotions Impact Menopause



Expert’s Name: Susan Joyce Proctor

There seems to be a widely held belief that people will gain weight in middle age, and that weight gain is an inevitable symptom of menopause.

I don’t believe this, nor has it been my experience. But since it unfortunately is the experience of many women, I’d like to suggest another way of looking at midlifeweight gain: a lifetime of imperfect habits has finally caught up with us, and they’re starting to show. We just can’t get away with the choices we’ve been making up until now.

And on a deeper level, and perhaps even more importantly, our relationship with food just isn’t working for us.

The Pleasure Principle

The other night, I was watching Dr. Christiane Northrup talking about menopauseon public television, and was again inspired by what she has to say about this important life transition. Basically, she sees it as a fantastic (and inevitable) opportunity to finally complete all our unfinished business, and fully claim and re-create our lives. Dr. Northrup explains that anything unresolved will be “in our faces” now on every level – physically, emotionally, spiritually, in our relationships, everything. And she reminds us of the importance of pleasure in our lives.

It makes sense, then, with so many women having issues with food and weight that these would be showing up at midlife. And I’m suggesting something a bit radical here, that it’s not only our weight that we should be addressing, but our relationship with food in general.

Is Food The Enemy?

I must admit, there was a time in my life when food did feel like “the enemy.” I was caught in an awful cycle of dieting and bingeing, and had unwittingly bought into the whole cultural assumption that women needed to deprive themselves to look good. Ironically, my weight didn’t stabilize until I let go of all that and developed a more joyful relationship with food. So I can personally attest that no, not only is food is not the enemy; but seeing it as the enemy can actually be the source of our weight problems.

The French Paradox

In contrast to the American woman’s obsession with dieting is “the FrenchParadox”: the French eat all that rich food, and they never seem to gain weight. Is there something we can learn from this?

Perhaps not surprisingly, it turns out that Dr. Northrup’s reminder about the importance of pleasure turns out to be the answer. In her delightful book, French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano shares a complete A-Z strategy for using pleasure (not deprivation!) to successfully keep ourselves slim and beautiful.French women apparently have mastered the delicate balance of intake, activity, and enjoyment.

And Guiliano includes sections for each decade of a woman’s life, so she understands the menopausal transition, too.

While I don’t necessarily resonate with Guiliano’s understanding of nutrition (more about that below), I just love her philosophy. Hers is a book that I recommend to most of my clients, and I think it’s especially valuable for menopausal women.

A More Sophisticated Approach to Nutrition

While my Gourmet Wellness program is completely aligned with Guiliano’s philosophy of pleasure, it takes a much more sophisticated and personalizedapproach to nutrition. Not only do I look at each woman’s own imbalances, but I offer blood type-specific recommendations that help her fine-tune her metabolism.

For each blood type, there are a handful of (often innocent-looking) foods with proteins that actually mimic insulin and contribute to weight gain; and when women stop eating those foods, they tend to drop excess body fat very quickly and easily. Here is a brief summary:

Blood Type O: Thrives on protein, including red meat; is OK with healthy fats; doesn’t do well with carbohydrates or dairy. Important foods to avoid: wheat, corn, kidney beans, navy beans, lentils, peanuts, potatoes.

Blood Type A: Does well as vegetarian; doesn’t metabolize red meat, dairy or saturated fats well but is OK with poultry and most fish. Important foods to avoid: potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bananas, kidney beans, lima beans, cabbage, certain white fish, tomatoes.