Women approaching age 35 may recognize the changes: unexplained weight gain, extreme moodiness, increased fatigue. Chances are, it’s your hormones talking. They’re out of balance.
Women can talk about the unpleasant changes with their friends, family, and ob-gyn, or they can search the internet, often leaving them with more questions than answers. That adds even more stress to an already stressful situation. While hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an option for some women experiencing menopause, it is not without risks. The good news is there are a few effective strategies that you can incorporate daily to help minimize hormonal changes. Here are four tips to bring balance back to an unbalanced situation.
Acknowledge It: Take a deep breath and realize you are not alone during this time in life. It’s common and normal to think, “I never used to feel this way” or “My periods were never this big of a problem before.” Calling out a problem puts it into context and helps get a handle on the situation. It moves it from being an unknown thing to a known thing. It’s easier to solve a known problem than an unknown one.
Eat In Order: The foods we eat and the order we eat them can matter. We feel better and maintain our weight more easily when we keep our blood glucose lower and in a nice curve after meals. Our glucose spikes when we begin our meals with bread or something sweet, or when we eat starchy, sugary foods. “Start your meals with vegetables or protein to keep blood sugar lower overall for the meal,” says Heather Awad, M.D., a family physician and certified weight-loss coach at Vibrant-MD. “You’ll notice good energy for the hours after the meal by avoiding a blood sugar spike, and you may find it easier to maintain a healthy weight.” Giving our bodies healthier energy sources that take longer to metabolize slows digestion and can stabilize hormones. (Wouldn’t it be great if restaurants brought us bread AFTER the meal?)
Walk It Off: For years we’ve heard that cardio exercise needs to be high impact for us to see results. We’ve also heard that for cardio activity to be effective, it needs to be for 45 to 60 minutes multiple times per week. But recent studies show that walking short distances several times per day, rather than a long and rigorous cardio workout, can help aid in both regulating hormones and improving mental health. We no longer need to feel like fitting in exercise needs to be a planned event. Quick 10- to 15-minute walks or even a two- to five-minute walk in the backyard a few times daily can provide real benefits when it comes to taking care of your body. Research also encourages walking after meals.
Look Into Integrative Medicine: Integrative medical doctors work within a wider context of medicine inclusive of evidence-based holistic methods, in addition to conventional methods. Many treat fatigue, anxiety, and pain, alongside providing hormone balance. Their treatments can also bring healing to patients who suffer from chronic issues, especially ones who have been unable to find relief in traditional medical systems. With more than 30 years of experience in healing hormonal imbalances, Rose Kumar, M.D., founder of The Ommani Center for Integrative Medicine and author of Becoming Real: Harnessing the Power of Menopause for Health and Success encourages women to find balance overall to balance their hormones. She says, “During this 12- to 15-year process, the task before women is to truly understand themselves and learn how to balance their lives at all levels.”
The next time you start to feel your hormones and health are out of control, remember these tips and incorporate them into your lifestyle. You are not alone on this journey, and you can take back control.