Tackling Weight Gain, Cravings, and Emotional Eating at Menopause
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Navigating Nutritional Challenges in Menopause

Andrea Holwegner as published in Calgary Herald Newspaper




This segment is sponsored by my client The California Dried Plum Board

In our practice, navigating weight gain, food cravings and emotional eating are a few of the most talked about struggles for menopausal women. While there may be a shift in body composition at menopause due to a more central or upper body fat distribution, the majority of changes in weight have a lot to do with the natural decline of muscle mass experienced with age. As muscle mass declines, so does our metabolism and how much food our body requires. At menopause sleep disturbances, lowered energy levels, and emotional roller-coaster mood changes can trigger overeating, more food cravings and emotional eating. All of these factors couple to make weight management throughout menopause challenging. The best way to navigate some of these challenges from an eating perspective is to be mindful of what you are eating, how much you are eating, the way you are eating and why you are eating.

What you are eatingfood journal

Keep a food journal for a week and take a look at your overall food choices. Without judgment, take an honest look at where extra calories might be sneaking in due to poor planning, skipping food and getting too hungry, which can lead to overeating. 

  • Do you need to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables?
  • Do you need to stop eating foods mindlessly from the pantry that are not on a plate?
  • Do you need to drink more fluids to prevent eating when you were actually just thirsty?

How much you are eating 

If you currently eat quite well then perhaps the biggest way to reduce your calories is to keep your food choices the same but work on shrinking down your portion size habits:toast and egg

  • Are you truly hungry between breakfast and lunch or are you snacking out of habit?
  • Check in to see how you feel having one toast and one egg with fruit instead of double this amount at breakfast.
  • Determine if having three ounces of meat, fish or poultry would suffice with half a cup rice instead of slightly larger portions of these at supper. Fill up your plate (and your eyes with more veggies).

The way you are eating

While sometimes there is no substitute for chocolate chip cookies or ice cream, sometimes a sweet craving can be satisfied by a healthy choice which is a win-win for your wellness. 

  • Could a baked apple or pear with cinnamon, pecans and crunchy bran cereal with psyllium cereal satisfy a dessert craving? This would be an energizing make ahead breakfast after a sleepless night that also contains plenty of soluble fibre beneficial for heart health. 
  • Would snacking on five naturally sweet prunes with about 100 calories curb a candy craving while also improving your digestion? This amount has also been shown in research to slow bone loss in post-menopausal women. 
  • Could a smoothie made with chocolate almond milk, banana and ice do the trick to curb a chocolate craving and also supply necessary vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D and potassium?

Why you are eating

One of the most challenging parts of navigating eating at menopause is emotional eating triggered not only by hormone changes but by personal, work and family life changes which are often significant at this stage.

  • Am I eating enough food and do I have enough fun and flexibility in my diet so I don’t feel deprived and unsatisfied?
  • If I am eating because I am sad, mad, worried or angry, could I come up with a game plan for next time (such as take a bath, call a friend or head out for a walk) to help nourish myself without food?
  • Could I seek support from a trusted friend, group or health professional such as a registered psychologist and registered dietitian who specializes in emotional eating?

Try these Rite Bites

Rite Bites Snack Dried PlumsThis energy ball recipe courtesy of www.californiadriedplums.org is the perfect nutty, soft and chewy healthy snack.


  • 2 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 cup California dried plum bits (diced prunes)
  • 1 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup almond butter
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon grated orange peel


  1. Combine cereal, oats, almonds, dried plum bits, chocolate chips, and in a large bowl; mix well
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, stir together almond butter, honey, cinnamon and orange peel. Microwave on HIGH for 90 seconds or until bubbling. Stir well and add to dry ingredients, mixing until well blended.
  3. Shape into 1-inch balls and place on a baking sheet or shape for ice trays. Chill for at least one hour, then store in the refrigerator or freezer to keep firm.

as published in the Calgary Herald

Calgary dietitian Andrea Holwegner, “the chocoholic nutritionist,” is a corporate wellness expert and motivational speaker specializing in workplace health, stress and productivity. Contact her at healthstandnutrition.com or call her at 403-262-3466.


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Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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