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  • Writer's pictureLouise Atkinson

Menopause and weight gain: why won't diets work?

Updated: Mar 2, 2019

By Louise Atkinson

I’ve spent my life watching my weight, tried every diet plan ever invented and even turned my fascination with weight loss into a specialism, narrowing my journalism skills to the point where I have become the Daily Mail’s ‘go to’ diet expert.

It’s my job to read every diet book that comes out, try it, analyse it, and to decide whether it’s good, bad or downright bonkers.

You want to know the pros and cons of any diet? Ask me.

I definitely know my diet stuff. But when I hit 50 I noticed that suddenly none of the old rules worked anymore. No matter how much sweat I poured over the exercise bike, how many downward dogs I perfected in my power yoga class, or how many calories I slashed or meals I skipped, I was horrified to watch my middle-aged middle expanding - and fast!

That’s one big reason why I got together with psychologist, Dr Meg Arroll last year to write the world’s first NON DIET diet book, The Shrinkology Solution.

People were always asking me ‘what’s the best diet?’ and I always answered ‘it’s the one that works for you that you can stick with long-term’. It struck me that 5:2 is super-tough for some, and low-carb impossible for others, but I knew I needed a bit of expert input.

Dr Meg is an expert in personality typing and a wealth of experience in what makes people tick – particularly when it comes to food and eating.

Together we came up with the concept of SHRINKOLOGY – how to think like a ‘shrink’ and uncover any hidden emotions and behaviours around food.

It soon became clear that the hormonal upheavals of mid-life were reeking havoc with my Shrinkology. I know I’m not alone. Hormones have SO MUCH to answer for. That menopausal apple shape is evolution’s way of helping you hang on to as much oestrogen as possible (abdominal fat cells helpfully produce a version of oestrogen to help bolster your dwindling supply).

But when hunger triggers anxiety or hot flushes, and you’re feeling so knackered and miserable and lethargic you just don’t have the energy or drive to eat healthily or lift your head off the sofa, keeping a healthy weight can feel like double the battle with zero will power.

I’ll fess-up and tell you that HRT has certainly helped me get back on track, but through writing The Shrinkology Solution (and having a few sneaky ‘on the couch’ sessions with Dr Meg in the process) I’ve really grasped an understanding of why I eat the way I do.

Together we came up with six distinct and very different ‘Shrinkology types’ – I’m definitely a Magpie: someone who loves to flit from one shiny diet plan to another. But we’re all different, and we can shift between types as we move through life. Maybe you’re a Scrambler rushing to keep all the plates spinning with no time for a square meal? Or a Rebel who is either fully on a health kick or fully off and face first in trifle. You might be a Traditional who can’t imagine a roast without roast potatoes or fish without chips; or a Gourmet with a love of fine dining, and most of us have tendencies of Soother who lives for treats – for themselves as well as for others.

To help you find out, we’ve created a fabulous fun quiz (which you can take for FREE here) and we are regularly posting tips and tricks on Facebook and Twitter as @shrinksquad and Instagram as @shrinkologyHQ.

Whatever stage of life you’re at, we are convinced that understanding your type is the first step towards self-awareness - and that’s key to weight loss and weight maintenance. In our book, we dedicate a big fat chapter to each type, and we’ve packed it with fantastic research-backed advice to get you on the straight and narrow when it comes to food.

Knowing your type is also key to understanding which diet plan is most likely to work for you and the diet plans that really won’t.

Put Dr Meg’s psych hacks together with my tailored diet advice and you get as close as dammit to a truly personalised weight loss plan that will work for you long-term.

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