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.

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.

The Menopause. Have you ever treated the menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or other treatment?

The Menopause. Have you ever treated the menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or other treatment?
The Menopause. Have you ever treated the menopause with Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) or other treatment?

Over the last week or so my wife and I have started to watch the US TV series “House of Cards”.  If you have any interest in politics and the goings on of the US Congress I’d really recommend it.  But TV reviewing is not really part of the remit of this blog.  The reason I bring the subject up is that Claire Underwood (brilliantly played by Robin Wright) is portrayed as going through the menopause.

Now this really interested both of us.   While the menopause is a reality for so many women it does not seem to feature much in dramas and books.  It is almost seems to be intentionally ignored.  Which is odd for an event which almost all women will experience and  is referred to by some as the “change in life”.

This leads me to the point of this blog.  We are asking our readers to share their experiences of the menopause and how it has affected their lives.

In a nutshell the menopause is when a woman stops menstruating.  This means that she no longer produces eggs and thus ceases to be able to have children.  According to the UK’s NHS web site “The menopause is caused by a change in the balance of the body’s sex hormones.  In the lead up to the menopause (perimenopause) oestrogen levels decrease, this causes the ovaries to stop producing an egg each month (ovulation). Oestrogen is the female sex hormone that regulates a woman’s periods.”

In practice this can mean:-

  • Heart palpitations i.e. a change in heart rate
  • Mood swings
  • Night sweats
  • Insomnia
  • Hot flushes
  • Loss of sexual desire
  • Urinary tract infections

So how is the menopause treated? In fact for many women no treatment is necessary as symptoms can be very mild. But for those women who have stronger symptoms there are a number of treatments. Most notable is Hormone Replacement Therapy  or HRT. This is where the oestrogen produced by the women’s body is replaced by an artificial source. This could be in the form of a patch, tablet or even an implant.  Other women can be treated with a synthetic hormone called Tibolone which acts in a very similar fashion to HRT.

Some women have tried herbal treatments and vitamin supplements to deal with the symptoms of the menopause.

So over to you.  We are very interested in your views and experiences in and around the menopause.  Anything you wish to share will be of great interest to our other readers.  But it would be great if you could consider some of the following questions.

1)      Why does such a major event as the menopause seem to be brushed under the carpet by the mass media?

2)      What symptoms of the menopause have you had?

3)      How did the menopause affect your lifestyle?

4)      What treatments did you use and how successful were they?

5)      What one piece of advice would you give to a woman who has just started the menopause?

Thanks very much in advance.