Most women experience a change of body shape during menopause. Women are generally pear shaped up until menopause. During menopause, your hormones start to fluctuate and change. Basically, estrogen decreases by around 35% and progesterone decreases by around 75%. Both hormones decrease, but the balance changes. This condition is known as estrogen dominance. The change in ratio between these two hormones, disturbs the balance between them and thyroid, insulin, and cortisol, which are hormones that regulate major functions in your body. As a result, these hormones function less than optimally. This disturbance has been responsible for the change from a pear to an apple body shape.
The less than optimum functioning of thyroid, insulin and cortisol, causes your body to produce and store fat. Estrogen determines where that fat is stored. Prior to menopause, it causes fat to be stored on your thighs, buttocks and hips. After menopause, it causes fat to be stored in and around your mid-section….giving you an apple body shape look.
As the change in your body shape is caused by hormone imbalance, the first step to take to halt the storage of fat around your waist is to get your hormones tested. Hormone tests reveal the treatments that will re-balance your hormones. While you are taking these treatments, you can expedite the re-balancing of your hormones by adjusting your diet, according to the hormone deficiencies revealed by your tests.
If you do not re-balance your hormones, neither diet nor exercise can help you to lose your apple body shape.
Dietary advice for estrogen dominance
The general dietary advice to help you to lose your apple body shape that is triggered by estrogen dominance is
- stay away from processed foods
- try to eat organic food as much as possible
- eat lean meat and poultry
- eat fish a couple of times a week
- eat lots of fruit and vegetables
- eat whole grain breads, cereals and pasta products
The specific advice is that there are foods that help to help remove excess estrogen from your body and thereby fight hormone imbalance. These include
- Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts all contain a chemical called DIM, a compound that naturally binds to estrogen and removes it from the body
- Citrus fruits – they contain flavonoids that help regulate hormones
Specific dietary advice for under-performing thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism)
Thyroid requires 2 crucial minerals to carry out everyday functions….iodine and selenium. Some iodine rich foods for hypothyroidism include iodized salt, seaweeds and seafoods, salt water fish, sushi, nori rolls, and Celtic sea salt. Some selenium rich foods for hypothyroidism include meat, chicken, salmon, tuna, whole unrefined grains, Brazil nuts, dairy products, garlic, and onions.
Specific dietary advice for insulin imbalance (insulin resistance)
- Stay away from processed foods (refined carbohydrates) and sugary foods. They cause your blood sugar levels to surge, which triggers insulin secretion
- Eat foods that take time to digest. They allow for a more gradual, gentler rise in insulin levels. These foods include foods with higher fiber content such as whole grain breads and brown rice, non-starchy vegetables like broccoli, green beans, asparagus, carrots, and greens, fibrous fruit like berries, apples, pears and citrus fruit, and lean protein like fish, skinless chicken and turkey, and lean meat
Specific dietary advice for high cortisol
High cortisol levels are caused by stress. You can reduce your level of stress by regularly doing a stress reduction technique like yoga, meditation etc.
However, the cells of your body can experience stress as a result of the way you eat. If you do not eat often enough, your blood sugar levels will fall. When this happens, your body secretes cortisol. To prevent this from happening, eat something every 2-3 hours. Have a small to moderate sized breakfast, lunch and supper. In between each meal have a healthy snack like a piece of fruit or nuts.
Certain foods have been found to lower cortisol levels …. foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin c. Some foods rich in Omega 3 are salmon, halibut, almonds and walnuts. Some foods rich in vitamin c include citrus fruits and dark green leafy vegetables.
To lose stomach fat and your apple body shape, it is essential that you also do at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day, while making the necessary dietary adjustments.