Cortisol (the stress hormone) and insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar) can also contribute to midlife hunger pangs.
While they may not be directly associated with menopausal hormone changes, many women’s insulin and cortisol hormones may be off-balance at midlife. If that’s the case for you, cortisol and insulin could be contributing to an increase in appetite.
That wouldn’t be so bad if you developed a craving for leafy green vegetables. Unfortunately, these cravings usually send us straight to the cookie jar as we look for easy-to-digest, simple carbohydrates.
Insulin’s job is to keep our blood sugar from going too high, while cortisol keeps it from plunging too low. It’s not hard to see that sugar and carb cravings will occur when either of the two is out of balance.
Insulin and cortisol are like the bookend hormones that control blood sugar and stress. And unfortunately, in our modern, western society, most women have accumulated significant cortisol dysfunction by the time they reach midlife.
What’s more, because cortisol and insulin levels are not routinely checked in mainstream medicine, many doctors are unaware of the relationship between these hormones and appetite changes in midlife women. That makes it difficult for them to offer any meaningful help.
We often don’t realize how imbalanced our hormones are until it becomes a problem. So we continue on the “stress train” of overwork and over-worry, both of which contribute to even higher cortisol levels and insulin resistance.