Avoiding Menopause Weight Gain

January 22, 2022

There are many common symptoms to perimenopause and menopause, one of them being weight gain. The first step in achieving a healthy weight during menopause is to get rid of that diet mentality and replace it with eating to nourish your metabolism, energy, and well-being. Many women come into menopause already nutrient deficient, with low energy, hormone imbalances, and extra weight, so tune in to find out what numbers to pay attention to (hint: not the ones on the scale!) and what steps to take to nourish the body as you experience this stage of life.

Podcast Powered by Podbean

Similar Podcast Episodes:

Print Transcript


TERESA: Hello, this is Teresa, one of the dietitians at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Before we start today's podcast, I want to let everyone know about a new online class that we just made available on our website. It's called Menopause Solutions. Menopause is a natural stage in a woman's life, but suffering is not. Whether you are in perimenopause, menopause, or post menopause, our comprehensive online class led by registered nutritionists Kara and Melanie will help you understand the root cause of your symptoms and walk you through real food solutions to help you navigate each stage with ease.

Our Menopause Solutions class includes six prerecorded videos with in depth education on every phase of menopause, the symptoms in how to remedy them, a private supportive community of educators and class peers for your questions, and a robust 79 page menopause survival guide e-book. Plus, you'll get access to all of these wonderful resources for one full year.

Our hope is that this class will empower you to make real food and lifestyle changes that alleviate the frustrating menopause symptoms so that you can thrive through all the years of your life. Learn more at weightandwellness.com/menopause. That's weightandwellness.com/menopause or call one of our six twin cities locations at 651-699-3438. Thanks for listening to Dishing Up Nutrition and enjoy the show.

Menopause Solution Seminar

KARA: Good morning. Well, welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today's show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. My name is Kara Carper. I'm a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist. I'm also a wife, happen to be a mother of a 10-year-old girl, and I've been with Nutritional Weight and Wellness now for 15, a little over 15 years.

And I just, because of all the information that I've learned working here over a decade, I just, I actually feel better. I feel probably just as young as I did when I started working here. And today I'm really excited to be in person in the studio with Nikki Doering, who is a registered dietitian, and she's had a lot of different, great work experiences, including really interesting work at a bariatric clinic. So she knows a lot about weight loss and that's related to our topic today. Nikki's a mother of a five-year-old son. She's also a wife, soon to be mom to a new baby, I believe in May.


KARA: That's so just a few months away. So Nikki's very busy. One thing I love when I I've been on the show with Nikki before, and I just love when she's able to kind of share her personal stories that all of our listeners I know can relate to. And you and I both, we were talking before the show, we're, neither one of us are perfect with our eating.

NIKKI: Yeah.

KARA: I mean, for that matter, any nutritionist or dietitian at our company is not.


KARA: So we want to just emphasize that.

NIKKI: Yes, we are real people.

KARA: We are real people. So we're going to talk about some of our stories. And our topic today is “Avoiding Weight Gain During Menopause”.

NIKKI: Yes. I know. I always say been there, done that. I feel like that's my mantra. So yes, Kara, I'm not perfect for sure when it comes to sugar. I do love sugar. At least I've loved sugar. I feel like I've been able to handle that relationship a lot better now that I work at Nutritional Weight and Wellness and eat, eat the real food plan.

But you know, I did learn very rapidly that sugar does not love me back. So as much as you love sugar, it typically does not love your body back. It may seem like it does, but it really doesn't. And so for me, sugar and processed carbs cause me to have higher than normal blood sugar levels. So during pregnancy that's specifically not a great thing for you or your baby. And so I have to watch my blood sugar levels and glucose numbers very closely because I actually do have gestational diabetes which is you know, I'm not afraid to share that. I'm a dietitian. It happens to dietitians too.

KARA: Of course it does.

NIKKI: You know, I had it with my first son, and I have it with this pregnancy. So I, you know, you want to keep your glucose numbers very, you know, very balanced so you avoid any complications from that condition. And really it's just, it, you know, it really has helped me learn a lot about blood sugar control, insulin resistance, and what foods can do in your body positively and negatively.

Later in the show, we'll kind of talk about health issues that kind of start how you eat, you know, from how you ate when you were a child and young. And that's definitely me. So we'll get into that later in the show too.

KARA: Mm-Hmm.

NIKKI: But that's an important piece of where my health is today was from years, years, years, years, and ago.

KARA: Sure. And yeah, you've shared that in past shows as well. So, a big piece of this, it's not like, I mean, yes, we've established that no one's perfect.

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: You and I are not perfect with our eating.


KARA: However, I mean, I, I don't know, percentage wise, I'm guessing you're at like 80-ish percent.


KARA: Doing the correct things.


KARA: So if people are wondering, well, why, you know, why would she have gestational diabetes?

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: What you just said is a lot of that is genetics.


KARA: On top of maybe just a whole childhood of eating more sugar, processed carbs.

NIKKI: Exactly. And I know there's women listening that have had gestational diabetes and kind of can relate to that. Like, how did I get this? Because I eat, I eat healthy. I do this, I do that. So it, yeah, it's not just about, I'm sitting down with a bowl of ice cream every day.

KARA: Right.

NIKKI: Or eating donuts for breakfast every day. It's very much, like you said, there's a genetic component. And then just, what have we done our entire life that kind of leads us to that insulin resistance?

KARA: Right. And, but also, I mean, you have to still use caution even, it's not like, oh, I'm just going to throw on the towel because of that.

NIKKI: Yes. I have to definitely be more careful. And I think it's really, you know, I think not being perfect helps, it helps me to be a better dietitian because I truly understand the struggles that many, if not, most of my clients struggle with. Like I said before, you know, been there, done that. I can really relate. And one of the biggest struggles is that sugar. So I try and help clients understand and accept that health is much more than just the number on the scale.

And I actually really appreciate the fact that I have to check my blood sugars because it's a great measurement of health that's not a number on the scale. So it's kind of a nice break from what is the scale doing; especially when you're pregnant that you, you kind of have to throw the scale out the window anyways.

KARA: Right, right. I would recommend that to anyone listening who’s pregnant or will become pregnant.

NIKKI: Yes, exactly. Mm-Hmm

KARA: Well, that's so true Nikki, and thanks for sharing that. And that just kind of reminds me of the show last week, Darlene and I, we had the pleasure of hosting a show and we introduced Anita and TJ Skinner and they're two longtime clients at Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Anita and TJ: they've really been on a mission to get healthy ever since about 2003, I think when they first started coming here.

NIKKI: That’s amazing.

Health is more than the number on the scale


KARA: And so if you haven't heard that show, it's a great, you could listen to the podcast, but Anita had some really wise words and she said, “I have to, or I've learned to love the process of getting healthy and not just the end goal.”


KARA: The end goal meaning what you were just talking about, like that number on this scale or that size of pants. And so she had a great story, but that is truly what was, you know, know just that really helped her. So “I have learned to love the process of getting healthy and not just the end goal.”

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: She also shared in the show that she ended up donating her scale and it's, that was so that the scale was no longer controlling her thoughts, controlling her feelings; what the number on the scale was, wasn't going to determine how she felt about her day. So yeah. Take a listen to that podcast, if you haven't heard it yet.

NIKKI: That’s a great one. I love testimonials from our, from real people.

KARA: Mm-Hmm.

NIKKI: You know, I think you hear our voices on the radio and sometimes, I hope I sound real because I am certainly a real person. But sometimes it does feel like, you know, there's that disconnect. So it's nice to have, you know, people that have lived it too, speak their story. So with that said, let's get into today's topic of menopausal weight gain. Let me repeat that: Anita Skinner wisely got rid of her scale because she no longer was willing to have the scale or the number on the scale tell her if she's been bad or good. And I love that because I think that is such a battle, excuse me, between that good and bad.

And it's so easy to get lost in that and so we need to get rid of it, rid of that mentality. She didn't want the number on the scale to determine what kind of day she was going to have. Think of yourself: do you have that perfect weight number in your head? When you step on the scale, if your number is up, will you berate yourself, kind of give yourself some, a hard time or feel really bad about it? Or if it goes down, will you think it's reward time? So, oh, it's time to, you know, maybe I don't need to plan as much, or maybe I can grab that chocolate. I have clients that have said that in the past, and I have a specific client that comes to mind that came to see me to work on weight loss during the perimenopause, menopause, you know, section of her life.

And she really was just like, “It's impossible to get this weight off and I just need help.” And so with, you know, some time, some follow up, we were able to get a really good routine going and all of a sudden weight loss started occurring. And then all of a sudden she hit that landmark weight on the scale, you know, where it had been a while since she had seen that number and she was super excited. And it was maybe even over a year since she had seen that number on the scale and she was really excited. And all of a sudden, boom, a week went by and she kind of went off this off the rails and we can kind of looks like it's time for a break. And we can kind of pick that up when we come back.

KARA: Yeah, no, I want to hear definitely more about that story. But we will take our first break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. And today our topic is How you can avoid menopausal weight gain, which is one of the things that as dietitians and nutritionists, we hear most at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, you know, “I've hit perimenopause. I'm hitting menopause and all of a sudden I'm two or three sizes up” or whatever that may be. So stay tuned for more helpful and life changing tips.


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. We are so pleased to announce that our six-hour Menopause Solution Seminar has been recorded and is ready for viewing. That's so exciting. I'm so excited about that. Enrollment officially starts Monday, January 24th. So that's this coming Monday and it's virtual. So it's ready to be, you know, watched just via wherever you have a screen, you know, computer.

So to sign up for this virtual class, you go to weightandwellness.com or call 651-699-3438, and we can help you get signed up. It's an amazing series with so many menopause solutions. So really set an alert on your phone or get it on your calendar to enroll on Monday. We have solutions for hot flashes, weight gain, fatigue, incontinence, low moods, and even anxiety. So take this series and get your menopause health questions answered.

Menopause Solution Seminar

KARA: There's a lot of information in there.

NIKKI: Yes. I can't wait. Yeah, I can't, I can't wait to view it myself and get a good review and some new information, I know that it was researched a ton. So I'm excited.

KARA: I know there's a team working on that for, I think at least a couple of years.

NIKKI: Yes. Yep. Yes. They put some like their blood, sweat and tears into that.

KARA: Exactly, exactly. That's really exciting.

NIKKI: So before break, I was mentioning a client story and she was getting some success with weight loss on this scale. And then all of a sudden, you know, a really big, you know, milestone number hit. And she, when we met the next time, she said, “I started going off plan immediately when I saw that and I didn't track anymore.” And she, you know, she wasn't just focusing on her goals. She's like, it's like she gave herself a break because she just didn't she just, that scale was the opposite of, you know, motivating. It was like, okay, now I can rest. And it's like that diet mentality.

KARA: Kind of like I got to the goal and now I'm almost like now I'm done.

NIKKI: Yeah. Yep. Exactly.

KARA: Which we know that it's always a journey. Right? There's never an end goal when it comes to that.

NIKKI: Exactly. And she definitely, you know, that was, yeah, she definitely had other goals she wanted to meet and she definitely wanted to, and she wasn't necessarily at her goal weight yet even. But it was just cool to kind of watch her show and learn about herself that, oh my gosh, that number on the scale kind of gives me permission if it even goes to where I want it to go to maybe not eat healthy for my body.

KARA: Mm-hmm.

NIKKI: And so it's just a great learning experience all around. And I'm glad I was able to experience that with her and we were able to talk it through, and our goal was throw out the scale for a month. We didn't, we stopped weighing.

KARA: Sure. Similar to Anita Skinner.

NIKKI: Exactly.

KARA: I don't know if she ever got the scale back. I don't think she did.

NIKKI: Yeah. Yeah.

KARA: So even just taking a break from it

NIKKI: There's solutions for everyone and they're all different. Right?

Diet mentality behavior #1: weighing yourself


KARA: Well, and you Nikki, sadly, a lot of women have kind of the, we call that the diet mentality. So Nikki and I are going to cover some common diet mentality behaviors. We have a few of them to talk about. The first one is, so this is all for all you listening. Do you weigh yourself several times a day? And I think if so, you know, what is your relationship with the scale; more importantly.

NIKKI: Is it a positive or a negative? I mean, does anyone, in my opinion, I don't think anyone needs to weigh themselves several times a day unless they have some kind of medical condition that would require that or something.

KARA: I think that way it would be very easy to go down a rabbit hole, like oh, I'm up three pounds in the last eight hours, when we know the weight can fluctuate depending on so many things; how we slept the night before, how much water we drank, did we go to the bathroom?


KARA: There are so many factors and the body is so complex that there is no possible way that the scale can be a good indicator of what's happening on the inside.

NIKKI: Exactly. And I think even daily weights can be difficult for some. Some people it's okay, but it can be very negative because you don't see those trends. I always talk about trends. Like up and down trends. You are going to pop up and down on the scale. It's just, where's our top number? Where's our bottom number of that trend? And where is that trending to?

KARA: So yeah, if anyone listening, if you, if this resonates with you and if you're like, oh my goodness, that's me, I have a scale. And maybe, maybe it's not positive reinforcement. It's more of a negative reinforcement creating some self-sabotaging behaviors, you could get rid of your scale. We're giving you permission, you know, or take a break from it or go to weighing once per week or once per day, if you are someone that weighs several times per day.

NIKKI: Yep. And I definitely have clients that have had the opposite of rewarding themselves with food if they've met a goal, but like kind of just tossed in the towel when they have not met their goal, you know, like I'm up so big whoop, I'm going to go, not eat in balance anymore. You know, whatever that looks for that person.

KARA: Similar to your client's story.


Common diet mentality behavior #2


KARA: So here's another this second common diet mentality behavior. Do you say to yourself, you know, I'm just going to start on Monday. I'm going to start my diet on Monday. So today I'm just going to eat this treat because it doesn't really count. Cause I'm not going to know that weight until five days from now on Monday when I weigh myself.


KARA: Or when I, when I start my diet, excuse me,

NIKKI: We all hear that. You know, there's always that date set point, which sometimes it's good to have a set point for a goal. But I think if we're starting and stopping something continuously, one, we're never getting in that consistent routine, which is pretty much what makes my client successful is the ones that can get into that continuous, consistent routine. And then think of the stress on the body and the mind of not having that good routine where it's like, okay, sometimes I'm on, sometimes I'm off. It's like you're jumping on and off.

KARA: It's kind of exhausting.

NIKKI: Yeah. So, and I have a little, like what I came up with myself when I'm stepping on the scale. And again, I sometimes step on the scale because it's, I'm, it's positive for me for, to kind of know where I'm at, but for a lot of people it's not a positive experience. It can be very negative. And so for those folks that it's very negative, I would not recommend weighing even at all, you know, just like Anita. She's like I measured my success by how I was feeling and my health. And I do think that's most important.

But my little tip that I did, if you find if you're one of those that just kind of, I use the scale and the number on the scale as data is I weigh myself on Monday morning because if you, you know, there's a lot of people that weigh themselves on Friday, so then they can kind of go, okay, here's my number on Friday. And then the weekend goes by. And that's kind of when a lot of the sneaky eating, you know, or different eating or just out of routine eating happens. So I always felt like to keep myself accountable over the weekend, I would weigh that Monday morning.

Common diet mentality behavior #3: calorie counting


KARA: I think that's a good tip. If the scale first, any listeners is a more of a positive reinforcement and wondering what day of the week to weigh. I think that's a really good tip. So here's our third common diet mentality behavior. Do you, are you someone that knows all of the calorie counts of every food? So you're shopping and instead of thinking about, oh, what are the ingredients? Is this, are nutrients in here going to nourish my body?

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: What's the protein? Is it a healthy oil? Instead of that, it's like, oh, it's 350 calories.

NIKKI: Yeah. So that, so I want to get the thing that's 325 or 300 or 250.

KARA: I think kind of like really obsessing about how many exact calories someone's eating or what is in a certain food, that for some is not the healthiest of behaviors either.

NIKKI: Yep. And we kind of, you know, had a conversation between us too. I haven't looked at calories in years. You know, I look at the label so differently: grams of protein, grams of healthy fat, grams of carbs.

NIKKI: Mm-hmm. ingredients.

KARA: And what do they make, what's made up of, you know, what type of proteins? Is it a quality protein?


KARA: So we will get, we just have, I think one more diet mentality behavior, but we are going to go to a quick break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. And if you are listening as a podcast and you enjoyed the show, tell a friend or a family member. You might inspire them to start taking care of their health.

If they have questions about cholesterol, there is a great show from January 8th on cholesterol management. Another thing you can do to help us out is just write a quick review about our podcast and that helps others to be able to make the decision to listen and benefit from this life changing information.


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Marianne, our culinary nutrition educator, is back in her kitchen January 25th and 27th, teaching us how to make delicious and nutritious soups. I've seen the recipes that she's doing. They look amazing. It is always great to have a big pot of soup ready for hearty lunch at this time of year, just in this cold weather we're having in Minnesota. Check out which class day works best for you. These are both Zoom classes. So sign up and sign up, to sign up call 651-699-3438. Or you can sign up online at our website, weightandwellness.com.

Cooking Classes

KARA: Marianne's amazing. I was so fortunate to be able to do a show with her in the past year. She's a wealth of knowledge.


KARA: So back to our topic on avoiding menopausal weight gain and we were, we're just about wrapping up four common diet mentality behaviors. And so the last one was, you know, are you a calorie counter?

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm.

Common diet mentality #4: skipping meals


KARA: We talked about that. And then the fourth one is, are you someone that gets up in the morning, you have your coffee? Or maybe a diet soda is another really common one. Just usually caffeinated; and then just kind of are sipping on either coffee or soda or maybe it's an energy drink and just sipping on those for most of the day, and find yourself not really eating meals.

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm.

KARA: It’s almost like that's a substitute for food.

NIKKI: It's like fake metabolism, you know, you're like looking for that energy.

KARA: It is really, it can be a sense of false energy for some people or just a little stream of keeping that blood sugar high enough so we're not eating food.

NIKKI: Exactly. It can backfire though, at the end of the day, you know, you start eating and then all of a sudden it's hard to stop eating.

KARA: Yes, yes. And also we know that that's not helping our metabolism; that kind of starvation with the caffeine. Yeah. So we will, we're going to dive deeper into blood sugar and how that's a big part of, we need to keep our blood sugar balanced to avoid menopausal weight gain and all of the other symptoms that we want to avoid during menopause.


KARA: But that is one thing, I think people that are drinking the caffeine and the beverages all day, once they realize that they are hungry, it can be really hard to stop eating. We have some clients who I guess we would, they would even say I'm kind of an overeater, a binge eater at night specifically. So eating more in the earlier part of the day, balanced meals can help to avoid that pattern.

NIKKI: Yep, exactly. And so a for a lot of women, they've just been programmed into the diet mentality that, you know, “I'm eating, whatever I'm eating is for weight loss. It's based on the outcome of weight loss and not the outcome of health.


KARA: So who benefits from that? Well, the diet industry makes a lot of money on that, but it's, it's not a healthy way to live. And many women start with perimenopause or menopause and they they're nutrient deficient. They may have low energy, may have osteopenia or osteoporosis, which we know of course is like very low bone density.

NIKKI: Exactly.

KARA: And start gaining that extra weight.

Eat to nourish your body to lose weight during menopause


NIKKI: Yeah. So first step, what do we do? First step to achieving a healthy weight during menopause is to get rid of that diet mentality. So toss out those questions, toss out those things in your head that maybe are keeping you from being healthy and replace them with eating, eating, to nourish your metabolism, your energy and your wellbeing.

KARA: And I just have an example of what that looks like: eating for nourishment. And it's related to a client who had IBS. This was years ago, which is irritable bowel syndrome. And, but she used to come, come in and meet with me. And, you know, she would say, when I'm eating real protein, let's just say like four ounces of chicken or some grass fed meat, when she would have her vegetable carbohydrates and focusing a lot on organic veggies. And then these healthy, natural fats, like butter or coconut oil or olive oil.

When she ate in balance like that, she was nourishing her body and she was able to avoid the diarrhea. So, but if she just had maybe just a simple dessert with some gluten, some flour and some sugar, she found herself running to the bathroom again. So, but not only could she avoid the diarrhea from eating in balance, but she also found herself naturally losing weight. And so it was kind of a win-win situation.

NIKKI: Mm-Hmm. I think that's such a great story. So I, and I like that example that it's not just about weight loss. You can see what nourishing your body really does for your health, besides the weight loss.

KARA: Right. Right. So for her it was weight loss, but then it was also avoiding the IBS. And actually she noticed she had less knee pain as well.

NIKKI: Oh, perfect. Even better.

KARA: Yeah.

NIKKI: It, so it can take a really long time to erase the diet mentality from our brains. I still battle with it. I will say, because I spent a lot of my, my life in that, I mean, those four questions we mentioned were me, you know, weighing a ton and counting calories and all that. So I get it; been there, done that. So we have, you know, we have been having these messages for the past 40 years.

Many of us hear it from, you know, our mothers. Not to beat up on moms, but they've heard it from somewhere too. And so it's takes time to replace those messages with things like, how do I eat to nourish my body? How do you end your personal war? How are we going to end our personal war with yourself by practicing the plan, like to bring health instead of that weight loss, you know, how do we switch that mindset of how am I going to be healthy; rather than how am I going to get that number on the scale to go down?

I have a perfect example of that is like I said, my you know, a lot of things we learned from our mom and my mom was a wonderful mom. She never ever made me feel like I needed to go on a diet or anything like that. But she was always in that mentality. So like I observed that as a young child and now, you know, she's and avid Nutritional Weight and Wellness person. She loves eating this way and she does fantastic. And she feels great too.

And she has her struggles just like I do. And we actually have this little family group where we hold ourselves accountable via email. So there's several family members and you usually, her, one of her goals is I'm going to eat the NWW, Nutritional Weight and Wellness way. But one week she said I'm going to eat like skinny people. And I just was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. So I had to reply all and say, hey mom, why don't we eat like healthy people instead of eat like skinny people, because there's, you can be healthy at any size, you know, you can, and you can be unhealthy at any size too.

So there's plenty of people that are thinner that have issues. And there's plenty of people that are maybe have some weight to lose but are very healthy.

KARA: That's such a great point. Cause like you said, this message, I think you said it's been around for 40 years and I, yeah. It might even be longer. I mean, I feel like this low fat kind of calorie counting diet mentality, that's been going on, I believe since the fifties.

NIKKI: Cause moms, I was going to say, yeah, our moms got the message somewhere.

KARA: Yeah exactly.

NIKKI: Grandmas did too.

How to end the war with calorie counting


KARA: So kind of this, when you said, what is, how do we end this war with food and just the calorie counting? I really believe the first step is to have a good understanding of blood sugar, insulin resistance and inflammation. So it's those three areas: blood sugar in balance, insulin resistance, which you can also kind of think of as on the path to like prediabetes, perhaps even diabetes.


KARA: And then inflammation in the body; often catch up with women during perimenopause and menopause. So for example, most women, think like age 18, 19 20, have no problem just eating a bagel that if, if you really want to know how much sugar a bagel turns into, it's about 15 teaspoons of sugar. But at that age, you know, it's, for most that age, it's easier to just kind of like naturally burn that off. Maybe it's just a three mile run right after breakfast and bam, the, the sugar from the bagel is all burned off before it would do any damage to cells or metabolism.

But we get into our thirties, our forties, fifties; maybe you're not a runner. Maybe you don't have time. You're managing children. You are working full time. You're trying to get your kids off to school.

So now when you grab that innocent looking bagel with the 15 teaspoons of sugar, the blood sugar will skyrockets, the pancreas kind of goes on overdrive to pump out a bunch of insulin to try to get the blood sugar, the glucose into the cells. But unfortunately with that excess sugar from the bagel, it's just getting stored as fat.

So that's kind of, that's the biochemistry of what's happening. So that creates a slower metabolism and more inflammation as well.

NIKKI: Yeah. And I, I, it just reminds me that kind of when it was easier, this at this time of my life compared to when it, how it is now, you know, I hear all the time from clients, “This was easier in my twenties or this was easier in my thirties or this was easier 10 years ago, or this was easier before menopause.” I mean, you guys are not alone. All of that is all of that is very, very true. And it's, you know, every time I hear it, I'm thinking, oh my gosh, I just want to group all you ladies together and just say, see, you're all in it together. We're all in this together.

KARA: Yeah.

How do we avoid high blood sugar levels?


NIKKI: So how do you avoid the higher blood sugar levels, which leads to that higher insulin levels, which leads to excess inflammation and weight gain? It all starts with stable blood sugars and optimal insulin levels, which results from nourishing ourselves by eating protein from grass fed meats and wild cut fish, a variety of vegetables and only natural beneficial fats, such as butter, olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. If you eat quality meat or fish, vegetables in place of grains or bread, good fats in place of soybean oil or corn oil or canola oil, you will have more energy. You'll be less inflamed. And you'll enjoy the process of eating healthy and not just is the end goal because you are going to feel way better along the way. Just like Anita said, enjoy the process.

KARA: Exactly. And so too many processed carbohydrates, too much sugar, that raises our insulin levels, which creates excess fat storage in the body. And so it really, the key is eating the right amount of protein. I mean, honestly you can overdo protein as well. Like a 10-ounce steak is not necessary, but for most people for, I would say most women, you know, four ounces of protein with a meal is an optimal amount to jumpstart the body into fat burning mode. And then we'll talk more about like the healthy fats and the vegetables. We're going to go to a quick break though, and you're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition.

Let me just tell you a little bit more about the Menopause Solution Seminar that Nikki had mentioned earlier. So that is now available online. For years, this Menopause Seminar was taught in person and it was just a really fun, a weekend long event. Women loved the interaction and the information. So now that everything is pretty much virtual at this point, we've had a lot of requests on how can women get this information without needing to travel. People used to actually come and get hotels and kind of make a weekend of it.

So for the past two years there was a lot of research put into this Menopause Solution Seminar. It was researched. It was written. It was filmed, edited. There was a lot that went into it. And I am very honored that I was able to be one of the presenters along with Melanie Beasley, who's a Registered Dietitian. So there's just a lot of life changing information in there. So if you want to learn more, you go to our website, weightandwellness.com or call 651-699-3438.

Menopause Solution Seminar


NIKKI: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Next week, I'm sure you'll want to tune in because we have a very interesting show called “Dangerous Foods for Women's Health”. Do you wonder, “Am I eating a dangerous food?” Tune in to hear Teresa and Brandy tell their personal stories and why certain foods are dangerous to women's health.

So before break, we were talking about the importance of eating in balance, you know, having that three to four ounces of protein, you know, getting the healthy fats in, avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, and then making sure that you have those good carbs, vegetable carbs and fruit carbs in, in balance, so you can, it supplies the building blocks for your hormones. Hello, menopause and perimenopause; when your hormones are kind of going all over the place, and that will help fight inflammation and support your metabolism.

KARA: Yeah. That's so important. Especially I think that healthy fat piece, because the fats that we're eating are directly influencing our hormones and how balanced they're going to be.

NIKKI: Yes, exactly.

KARA: So we want to, you know, be avoiding those refined oils you had mentioned before break, like really avoiding the soybean, the corn, even the canola.


KARA: Sticking to the more natural fats.

Why do women gain weight during menopause?


NIKKI: Exactly. So a question many women ask is why do most women gain weight during perimenopause and menopause? Researchers have found a certain type of stress. Yeah. I just said stress that can actually start in childhood. This is called a glycemic stress condition, which results in excess insulin secretion. I might just call it for simplicity's sake, a high blood sugar stress from eating maybe too much bread or cookies, soda, juice, cakes, bagels, waffles, crackers, cereal. As a child, I can relate to that. I mean, that is seriously why I think I have insulin resistance today because I ate, I was on the low fat train. All I ate was carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs, carbs.

So it sets adults up for high insulin resistance, and then they start gaining weight easily and you know, your energy level tanks, so you're less active. And it all just catches up to you and can kind of like seem like it's almost spirals.

A childhood diet that is too high in processed carbs can actually lead to a slow metabolism as an adult. So think about that. If you're feeling your, your metabolism is slow, how was it that you ate when you were a child?

KARA: Mm-hmm.

NIKKI: Especially, you know, the slow metabolism picks up, you know, in the perimenopause and especially after menopause, I find with a lot of clients.

KARA: Yeah. So just, I'm going to repeat how much this is so important, how much sugar levels can slow metabolism. And this might come as a surprise, but whether it is a high amount of a processed carbohydrate, like think pasta or bread or crackers, or if it's a refined sugar, like a dessert or cookies or cake, over time, I mean the blood sugar can cause the insulin receptors on our cells to malfunction, not allowing glucose or blood sugar to get into the cells for energy. And so these processed carbs are really turning into sugar, just like if we were eating sugar.

NIKKI: Yeah.

KARA: And I know that might be a little bit of new information because you might be thinking if you're a listener of wouldn't bread be healthier than a cookie? Well, I mean we could, we could argue that it might be yes, slightly, a little bit better choice, but it all in the end in our bodies is turning into a lot of sugar and most likely getting stored as fat, especially in those perimenopause or menopause years.

NIKKI: Exactly. And you know, I really like that insulin receptor malfunction. I don't know. I like that term because it just, it makes sense. Okay. My cells are my, you know, my cell receptors are malfunctioning. It almost sounds scary. Like it's permanent, but guess what? It's not.

KARA: Oh yeah. It's reversible.

NIKKI: It's reversible.

KARA: It can be healed.

How can we heal insulin resistance?


NIKKI: Exactly. And the solution is eat three to four ounces of animal protein, one to three cups of vegetables and one tablespoon of natural fat three times a day, at least three times a day. Clinically I see four times is, you get much better results and you have a better metabolism. And so metabolism goes up, weight loss goes, you know, happens.

If insulin excess started in childhood, it may take a couple of years of balanced eating to reverse the course. So and that's in my case, that's true. It's taking years and that's okay. I've come to terms with that. And insulin resistance did not happen overnight. That's something else to tell yourself. This didn't happen overnight. So it's not going to be reversed overnight, but you do start feeling better and it takes time to, to correct the problem. So just be patient with you and your body, with yourself and your body.

KARA: That's really good advice. When you decide to eat a real food balanced eating plan it's really important to not just expect a weight loss miracle because like you said, it can take, it can take time for the cells to heal on the body. What we're doing is we're reversing insulin resistance on a cellular level, so really be patient. And you'll start to notice things like, oh, I have more energy. I have fewer aches and pains. I'm sleeping better. My skin is better. So there's going to be a lot of other benefits. They may not initially show up on the, on the scale or like with a smaller size of pants. So, but the diet really should consist of mostly carbohydrates coming from vegetables and fruits and really focusing on something called low glycemic.


KARA: And Nikki is going to just, maybe you could give a couple examples of low glycemic fruits or vegetables.

NIKKI: Yep. So think of glycemic index as something that the measure of how much a food increases your blood sugar. And so you want to lower glycemic index for health. Lower glycemic fruits are, tend to be berries. So any berries, grapefruit and peaches; high glycemic fruits: pineapple, watermelon, dried fruits, overripe bananas, but I'll tell you underripe bananas are moderately high. So just think of that. Vegetables think non starchy vegetables for low glycemic: greens, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, tomatoes.

NIKKI: High glycemic, or moderately high glycemic vegetables: corn; popcorn ladies. So be careful about popcorn.

KARA: Yeah.

NIKKI: Winter squash, beets, carrots.

KARA: Did you say potatoes?

NIKKI: I didn't say potatoes. That's a really big one. Thank you. Thank you for catching that one. Yes.

KARA: Potatoes are technically I believe a vegetable, but very, you know, higher, higher sugar, high glycemic.

NIKKI: So we're going to, yeah, so we're going to pair those low glycemic fruits and vegetables with high quality natural fats. Plus the three to four ounces of protein from grass fed meats or wild caught fish. And then you're going to eat that like I said, at least three times a day, if not four, four is actually better for your metabolism. Many women do better when they eliminate grains too. So think of that. Should I swap out some of my grains I'm eating every day for vegetables?

And wild rice and quinoa almost seem better for that insulin resistance. They don't seem to be spiking blood sugar as much. And a, a nice portion of those grains is a half a cup cooked. So that's also keep that visual or a measurement. So now our listeners may be asking, “What else affects metabolism for menopausal women? What is the main factor that slows or slows or helps with weight loss?”

Sleep helps increase metabolism


If you said sleep, you are correct. Often as a dietitian the behavior I address first with clients is the amount of sleep they are getting.

KARA: Right. And I I'm looking at the time and thinking, I wish we had more time to dive into this. So we encourage you to listen to a whole podcast on sleep or, you know, because we could do a whole show on that, but for a good functioning metabolism and weight loss, it really is important to be getting seven and a half to eight hours of sleep most nights.

So sleep hands down is the best metabolism booster that we have. Now just really quickly, here's an interesting fact: people who sleep four hours or less per night are 73% more likely to become obese compared to those who sleep seven to nine hours per night.

NIKKI: Yeah. That's an incredible number. And I've heard even less than six hours and even less than seven hours, I find with some of my clients can lead to slow metabolism.

KARA: Mm-hmm. And so as dietitians and nutritionists, we have a lot of sleep solutions. There really isn't one perfect solution. So we encourage you to listen to other podcasts, perhaps even make an appointment if this is an area that you struggle with. So for menopause weight gain, we want to keep our blood sugar balance. We want to be sleeping, avoiding diet mentality. And our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. So it is a simple message, but a very powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. So thank you so much for joining us and have a wonderful day.

Print Transcript

Back To Top