The Hunger Games
I seem to be bucking the trend for intermittent abstaining and dieting fads such as ‘The 16:8’ or ‘The 5:2’. Rather than fasting and I am feasting. Little – sometimes not so little – but definitely often.
I am calling it ‘The 24:7’ – as I seem to be stuck in a cycle of round the clock, continual chowing.
Since hitting my 40’s it feels like no matter how much I eat and I am still hungry. Not nibbling on a rice cracker peckish. Really bloody hungry. As soon as breakfast is over I am already thinking ‘Right, now what’s next up on today’s never-ending snack-fest?’
Don’t get me wrong, aside from the ‘odd’ (ok, daily) bag of Percy Pigs and a low grade caramel Hobnob addiction, I eat very well. I cook from scratch, include all the food groups and generally hit my 5-a-day It’s not the quality that’s the problem, it’s the quantity.
Whilst I am not yet the subject of a Channel 5 documentary or need to winched out of my home, I know I have put on a bit of weight, a few pounds – let’s call it a nice round ½ a stone – in the last few years.
I am surprisingly relaxed about by more pronounced curves but left wondering what is causing this need to permanently graze?
As usual it’s those pesky perimenopausal hormones at work again. There seems to be a link between lower levels of ovarian hormones and an increased appetite. The decreased estrogen levels in midlife can impair the function of leptin and neuropeptide Y, hormones that control fullness and appetite.
In one study, levels of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin were also found to be significantly higher among perimenopausal women.
Unfortunately in tandem with the increase in appetite is a decrease in our midlife body’s ability to burn these extra calories. Less muscle mass and more body fat means our metabolism slows down.
It’s no surprise then that a lot of women in midlife put on a bit of weight an average of 1-1.5 lbs a year and there is a 12 per cent jump in the number of women who are overweight in their 40’s compared to those in their 20’s and 30’s.
The younger me would have been horrified by these stats and would have baulked at my extra bulk. I was super slim mainly due to a hectic social life and the subsequent (ill-advised) Sauvignon and Silk Cut diet. Food didn’t feature heavily. Not healthy and not to be recommended – but to be honest a winner for keeping hunger at bay and the weight off.
Obviously since hitting my 40’s my priorities have changed, I don’t want to be skinny, I want to be strong. I go running to keep fit, to clear my head and trigger those happy endorphins not to enable me to fit into a size 8.
I may be heavier but I am a lot healthier: I eat better, exercise more, drink less and – thankfully – don’t smoke at all.
I am also less hard on myself. I know I need to reign in the snacking and probably won’t be heading down the Victoria Secrets runway anytime soon, but c’mon I am nearly 50 and doing okay.
Happily my waistband may have tightened but thankfully my attitude is more relaxed.