How Chocolate Craving in Perimenopause Results in Weight Gain

Menopause and Chocolate
Menopause and Chocolate

Before menopause, many physical changes take place during a transitional period known as perimenopause. This transitional period can last from 4 to 8 years and usually takes place anywhere between the ages 40 and 51. The usual symptoms of perimenopause are hot flashes and night sweats. Another common symptom women notice is weight gain. While weight gain in perimenopause can partially be attributed to the fluctuating hormone levels, other factors such as dietary habits such as frequent chocolate consumption also play a great role in perimenopause weight gain. If you’ve been experiencing noticeable weight gain lately and are a victim of frequent chocolate cravings, we offer some explanations these cravings may be influencing your weight.

Why women crave chocolate

First of all, we need to understand what exactly are chocolate cravings. Food cravings refer to an intense desire to eat certain foods, and in this case, this food is chocolate. Food cravings are extremely common with 97% of women and 68% of men reporting food cravings at some point in their life. Food cravings are commonly associated with either nutritional deficiencies or low mood. Chocolate as a food is high in magnesium which is why it was proposed in one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association to be due to magnesium deficiencies. However, there are plenty of other foods with a higher magnesium content but that do not cause such cravings which is why this same study concluded that the combination of taste, nutrients, psychoactive ingredients, hormonal fluctuations, and mood cause chocolate cravings in women.

Hormones and the perimenopause

Menstruation during perimenopause become irregular due to fewer follicles being released from the ovaries and a decrease in estrogen according to an article published in Menopause. The decline in estrogen levels can lead to mood disorders in perimenopausal women as hormones play a large role in the regulation of neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin. Furthermore, these same hormonal changes can in themselves lead to unpredictable weight gain and changes in body composition which can be mitigated with the right menopause treatments such as hormone replacement therapy.

Chocolate cravings and mood

Since women are vulnerable to both weight gain and mood problems during the menopause transition, this could indicate that their chocolate cravings may increase in frequency due to lower levels of estrogen and that they will more easily gain weight at this time in their life as well. One bar of dark chocolate contains as much as 605 calories. Milk chocolate may provide even more calories because it is higher in sugar and fat content. Premenopausal women usually experience chocolate cravings before and during their period. But perimenopausal women don’t have predictable cycles and their food cravings might last even longer due to lower estrogen levels. This might result in a lower overall mood for greater periods of time in the perimenopausal woman which might cause her to have chocolate cravings more frequently.

Other factors
While fluctuating hormones may lead low mood and higher chocolate intake by perimenopausal women, others believe that our habit of regulating our emotions with candy might stem from our cultural background. Dr. Amy Jo Stavnezer, a professor of psychology and neuroscience, explains in Psychology Today that American women, in particular, are more prone to chocolate craving because their culture encourages the idea of chocolate as comfort food in times of stress. This notion was further confirmed in a study on the prevalence of chocolate cravings in women of different cultural backgrounds. The study which was published in Appetite found that up to 60% of American women claimed to have chocolate cravings before their periods in comparison with only 24% of Spanish women. Besides chocolate, other ways you could find relief from perimenopause mood swings is with specially designed menopause product.

Chocolate as addictive but fattening food

Since hormones are not the only cause of chocolate cravings in perimenopausal women, we have to ask what other factors lead to chocolate cravings and weight gain during this period in a woman’s life. Another factor that may play a role is addiction. Relying on chocolate to boost your mood with its high carbohydrate content may cause addictive behavior. This was found to be true in a study on mice which found the mice exhibited behavioral and physical changes in response to sugar consumption.

Conclusion
Perimenopause is a period when many physiological and emotional changes take place. The fluctuating hormones and their effects on a woman’s mood may lead to more frequent chocolate cravings. Since chocolate is highly caloric and since women gain weight easily during this period of their life, chocolate cravings can easily cause unpredictable weight gain. While it may be easier to ask your physician to prescribe medicine for joint pain relief ,for instance, it is also important you address mood problems especially if you are a woman going through menopause in which case your physician may suggest products like Brisdelle.

Author Bio:

Annie Lizstan works as a health and beauty consultant for online websites and an independent researcher by profession. She had completed her studies from university of Arizona and live in Wasilla, Alaska. She always like to explore her ideas about health, fitness and  beauty . In her recent period ,she got an opportunity to explore best skin brighteners. She has experience researching as a passion as well as profession. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

New Year’s Resolutions – how to make those health resolutions actually stick

Addictions Specialist Mike Delaney shares his tips on how to make your New Year’s resolutions stick and explains why abstinence rarely works

Give up smoking!
Give up smoking!

If, like so many people, you’ve resolved to stop doing something in the New Year then you might be surprised to learn that only about one in twenty people actually succeed by going cold turkey.

Rather than embarking on a likely doomed strategy of total self-denial, Mike Delaney, a leading authority in the treatment of addictions with over 30 years’ consultancy experience in the UK and internationally, says that you will be far more successful if you introduce substitutes instead of cutting something out altogether.

The all-or-nothing total quitting approach is particularly problematic after the inevitable excesses of the festive period. Cognitive psychologists also don’t like it, as there is no margin between success and failure; one moment of weakness and you’ve “failed”, which can lead to the mentality – “why bother trying again?”


Mike’s top five tips to beat the vicious circle are as follows:

  1. Don’t set your goals too high as you will be setting yourself up to fail; make your resolutions reasonable and achievable and you will have a greater chance of success
  2. Don’t plan too many at once as this is also the road to failure, e.g. trying to stop smoking, lose weight, stop drinking and do more exercise is a huge piece of work to undertake on top of all the other challenges that a new year brings
  3. As they say, “take it one day at a time”; stopping something for 24hrs is easier than thinking you have to do it “forever”
  4. Use all the support you can muster! Family, friends, healthcare professionals and support groups all have a part to play if you use them; it also helps you to stay focused and strong every day
  5. Be kind to yourself and reward success; try putting money away every day that you have managed to save by not indulging in your bad habit; at the end of every week or month that you have achieved success, buy yourself something that you have wanted, treat yourself to a spa weekend etc.

 

So, whether your habit is eating too much chocolate, drinking too much, or smoking, watch our video to hear Mike explain his top tips on making this year’s resolutions ones you can truly stick to.

The Health Benefits of Chocolate – 5 great reasons to crack open a bar now.

The benefits of chocolate
The benefits of chocolate

There are certain parts of a healthcare bloggers working life which always appeal.  In particular it is when we can write a blog to explain why doing something we all love is healthy.  I am planning a rather extensive blog on French red wine to prove the point.  Granted the benefit  is not just for our “heart” when we have a glass of Burgundy.

Today is one of those happy occasions because, as most small children can tell you, this week is “Chocolate Awareness Week”.  For some (my daughter for example) perhaps the most important week in the calendar!

So it gives me great pleasure to share with you (on this medical blog) a brief rundown of the health benefits of eating chocolate.  Yes (and before I’m rushed off my feet in the comments box) I know that chocolate should be consumed in moderation.  Even so here goes:-

a)      Makes you feel better.  Chocolate contains serontin which helps elevate your mood.

b)      Fighting fatigue.  It has been suggested that athletes who eat drank chocolate might perform better than those who use sports drinks.

c)       Anti-oxidants.  It seems that chocolate is a great source of anti-oxidants.  For more information of these health boosting chemical please check out our blog http://patienttalk.org/?p=252

d)      Eye sight.  Yes that’s right!  Some tests show that chocolate may have the same effect as carrots.

e)      Memory .  Eating a bar of chocolate can make you feel better (see above) but it may also  help your memory.

Some scientists suggest that there are quite a few other benefits of chocolate but that is for another post.

I should mention that these benefits refer to eating dark chocolate as oppose to milk or white chocolate.  The darker the better in fact.  This is good news for me as I prefer it that way.

Oh and finally yes the picture is of my daughter consuming chocolate after her first outing as a bridesmaid (in Australia)!