We doubt that too many women actually look forward to menopause (though we happen to think it’s not a bad idea to start doing so!). Some of the symptoms of menopause include hot sweats (and cold flashes), insomnia, irritability, and weight gain.

Unfortunately, the hormonal weight gain symptoms of menopause aren’t the same as other types of weight gain and can make it harder to lose the excess weight. 

Discover what types of symptoms you should be on the lookout for and a few self-care tips to get you past the hormonal weight gain hump.

Common hormonal weight gain symptoms during menopause

The symptoms of hormonal weight gain during menopause are similar to the symptoms of other types of weight gain, which means this type of weight gain isn’t always easy to diagnose. One of the biggest red flags, though, is if you’re at the age of perimenopause or menopause.  

Some common symptoms of hormonal weight gain include:

How do I know it’s hormonal weight gain?

In this case, the diagnosis is similar to the treatment: look at the hormonal weight gain symptoms above and ask yourself if you need to employ any of the tips numbered below. 

Are you getting seven-to-nine hours of sleep each night? Do you wake feeling rested? Are you suffering from symptoms of menopause? How do you manage stress? Do you make exercise and healthy eating a priority?

If you need to up your self-care routine and/or are experiencing other symptoms of menopause, your weight gain might be linked to hormonal imbalances.

Curbing hormonal weight gain symptoms during menopause

The no. 1 thing you can do to curb hormonal weight gain (from both prevention and maintenance perspectives) is to up your self-care game. Since hormonal weight gain during menopause is much different from gaining a few pounds over the holidays, you’ll need to concentrate on hormone-related factors.

Self-care tip #1: exercise 

Yes, this is what we would suggest if your weight gain wasn’t related to hormones, but we also feel that it’s worth mentioning for menopause-related weight gain too.

Exercise is one of the best ways to regulate your hormones. It helps your body produce endorphins, which are hormones that regulate mood and stress — specifically, they can lower your stress and boost your mood. 

But whatever you do, don’t overdo it with exercise. Overexercising can disrupt your hormones even further. 

Self-care tip #2: eat for your hormones

What we put into our bodies plays a huge role when it comes to hormone regulation and weight management. When we eat foods that help regulate our hormones, we’re supporting our own bodies. 

But if we consistently eat foods that disrupt our hormones and throw us out of whack, we might be facing even more weight gain.

Focus on whole foods, including a variety of veggies and fruits. Avoid any animal products that might contain growth hormones (or any other hormones for that matter!). Buy organic produce to avoid pesticides and wash your produce thoroughly before eating it.

If you’re using plastics, always opt for BPA-free. 

Sugar, caffeine and some food preservatives can also affect your hormones. Some women are also sensitive to dairy and soy. 

Try to eat these products carefully and sparingly. Though we won’t ever fault you for indulging here and there — especially during the holidays!

Self-care tip #3: make sleep a priority

One of the biggest factors in weight gain (and loss) is sleep. If you don’t get enough shut-eye each night, it can be even harder for your body to shed those pounds (or keep them off). 

Researchers believe that you need somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Getting less sleep than you need? Your metabolism could suffer. 

Some studies have even shown that cutting back on sleep can affect weight loss up to 55 percent — without changing any food or exercise habits. 

When you sleep, your body makes a hormone called leptin that can suppress hunger. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body instead makes a hormone called ghrelin, which can trigger hunger. This means that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be hungrier than if you got a full eight hours. 

Self-care tip #4: manage stress

Managing stress also plays a major role in weight management during menopause. This can happen in two ways.

Weight gain because of poor stress management

When we’re stressed, we tend to throw all self-care techniques out the door. It’s easier to reach for something unhealthy when we’re busy and stressed than take the time to make a healthy meal. 

Many of us stress eat or binge eat when we’re under pressure. Yet, this is exactly what we shouldn’t do! Alcohol, sugar, salt, caffeine, and additives can negatively affect our stress hormones and make us feel even worse in the long-run — even though that crunch or sugar fix seemed like a great short-term solution at the time. 

Weight gain because of stress hormones

We humans were built to survive. This means that we share many of the same traits as our prehistoric ancestors — including fight-or-flight responses. 

When our ancestors needed to run away from a threat (such as a predator), our hormones would kick into action, giving us stamina and strength to get away. Cut to today: when a debt collector sends a threatening email or letter, our bodies react as if the threat were more immediate and triggers our fight-or-flight responses.

Since we’re faced with stressors all day, every day, these stress hormones can send our bodies into overdrive. We don’t need these hormones to run away from debt collectors or texts from an ex; what we need is calm.

Managing stress 

Sometimes managing stress can be just as stressful as the original stress itself. Luckily, there are a few tried-and-tested ways to keep stress at bay including: 

  • Taking a yoga or meditation class
  • Downloading a mindful app
  • Going for a walk
  • Channeling your stress into a creative project or athletic activity
  • Starting a gratitude journal

Self-care tip #5: love your body

No matter where you are physically or hormonally, it’s important to love your body just the way it is. Sometimes your weight will fluctuate -- menopause or no menopause. 

There are often factors out of our control. 

Maybe you just got back from vacation and saw the numbers on the scale inch up. We tend to eat comfort foods around the holidays. Maybe you just wanted to get a bowl of pasta at your favorite restaurant and now you’re holding water weight from all the sodium.

Whatever the reason for your weight gain, don’t let that number define you. Love your body — all versions of your body — and the number on the scale won’t matter as much anymore.

Whether weight gain has been a struggle for awhile, or if it's a new challenge in your path, we'd love for you to join us and speak up about your experience in our Community forums. You're always invited.