How to Stop Menopause Hunger: 5 Effective Strategies

Last updated 03.29.2024 | by Sabrina Johnson | 9 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.

We were discussing menopause online on World Menopause Day, and a woman in her 40s who was a part of the discussion expressed her concern. She said, “I know menopause makes you sick, but does it make you hungry also? I don’t understand what’s happening to me. After a wholesome meal at noon, I feel hungry in an hour. At times, I wish to finish everything in the refrigerator. I know it isn’t normal. What is it? Is it the hormones or something else? ” We can term this as menopause hunger, which many women experience in menopause or while transitioning through it.

Menopause isn’t the only time when you tend to eat more. You may have noticed that your appetite spikes before menses and during pregnancy. A lady once asked, “Don’t men have food cravings?” Yes, they do. But their cravings aren’t as severe and intense as those of women. Studies show that more men, around 50%, can ignore their food cravings than women, which is less than 20%.

So, what causes food cravings in menopause? How can you stop menopause hunger? That’s what this article covers.

Why Do Women Experience Intense Hunger In Menopause?

If you thought menopause only resulted in hot flashes, mood disruptions, and sleep issues, you were wrong. There are umpteen symptoms that menopause could trigger, more than you can think of. When in menopause or transitioning into it, your hunger hormones may also go a bit topsy-turvy, increasing your food cravings immensely.

A study conducted on 94 postmenopausal women with an average age of 49.9 years showed that women experience increased hunger during menopausal transition and postmenopause. Hormonal fluctuations cause increased food cravings in menopausal women. Let’s see how hormones influence your hunger in menopause.


When estrogen levels are normal or higher, they could lessen your appetite. In perimenopause, these hormones fluctuate, and their numbers decrease. So, estrogen eventually loses its ability to hinder appetite like it did before. Thus, after your 40s, you could find yourself feeling hungrier than before.


Produced by fat cells, leptin helps regulate energy. Its ability to inhibit hunger gives it the nickname satiety hormone. When leptin levels are high, they signal your brain that you are full and shouldn’t eat anymore. Leptin levels eventually start declining with age. A study showed that obese postmenopausal women had lower leptin levels than their premenopausal counterparts. So, low leptin levels mean a rise in your hunger pangs.


Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. In the menopause transition phase, ghrelin levels are high, which causes cravings for more food. Studies have shown that individuals with high baseline ghrelin levels have increased hunger. Another study showed that postmenopausal women, compared to their premenopausal counterparts, experienced a more significant decline in ghrelin after a meal, which again increased within an hour after food intake.

Ghrelin’s function is just the opposite of leptin. Your gastrointestinal tract has cells responsible for producing ghrelin, which sends signals to your brain if you have an empty stomach. Its function is to let your brain know you must have food. During the time between meals, ghrelin levels are high, whereas once you have eaten, the levels decline.


Cortisol is more commonly known as a stress hormone but also has other functions. Low estrogen levels during menopause elevate cortisol levels, making women more susceptible to stress. Moreover, in stressful times, cortisol levels rise by around nine times compared to when one is relaxed and calm. If you are persistently stressed and your cortisol levels are elevated, you could feel more hungry.

In stressful times, people resort to unhealthy eating and consume foods high in fat, sugar, and salt. Binge-eating was my thing, but I consciously gave it up and resorted to healthy eating.

Menopause also affects sleep because of the several symptoms you experience. Less sleep leads to more ghrelin and less leptin, which means you’ll feel less full and more hungry. I have often heard women say they spend sleepless nights gorging on their favorite snack and watching a movie. That’s unhealthy.

5 Essential Tips to Deal with Menopause Hunger

When you know that the hormones are making you crave more (food), you must find ways to minimize them. In menopause, the fluctuating hormones could trigger abdominal weight gain. So, if you don’t control your food cravings, it could adversely affect your health. Let’s look at a few ways in which you could take charge of your menopausal cravings.

Add Fiber and Protein to Your Diet

Dietary fiber helps you to remain full and lessen incidences of frequent hunger. Menopause could also make you prone to constipation due to hormonal imbalances. So, adding adequate fiber to your diet will help soften your stool and make it pass quickly.

Protein is another nutrient that could help you remain full and lessen your tendency to snack frequently. There’s a reason. Protein lowers the levels of ghrelin, your hunger hormone, which could trigger hunger pangs when its levels are high.

So, if you are thinking about what to eat to prevent yourself from feeling hungry often, here are some suggestions. An oatmeal platter for breakfast will keep you full for at least three hours as it is loaded with fiber. A vegetable salad comprising broccoli, beetroot, Swiss chard, and carrot is another perfect option. A bowl of boiled potatoes, an egg, or a fish meal will help you meet your protein intake and lessen your possibility of feeling hungry often.

Here’s a word of caution: Do not go overboard and add a lot of protein and fiber to your diet at once. It could trigger digestive disorders. Do it slowly and gradually. It’s better to seek medical advice when making any dietary alteration.

Try To Cope without Food (When Stressed)

A woman once said my cravings spike at noon, an hour after lunch. I cannot stop eating whatever I get at hand then. A therapist who was also a part of that discussion said, “Why don’t you stop thinking about food then? Go for a walk, take your dog out, or do anything that diverts your mind.” She’s right.

Thinking of food makes you hungry, as the hunger hormones are stimulated then. So, if increased food cravings get bothersome, try to avoid them. Don’t starve yourself, but don’t eat when tempted to, especially if you had food a while ago.

Increase Your Activity Levels

If you feel that exercising will make you feel hungrier, you are mistaken. New research suggests that intense energy workouts, even if done for a short span, lessen ghrelin levels, which are responsible for increasing appetite.

This study counters the previous notions that exercise increases hunger. Aerobic exercises such as running and cycling alter ghrelin levels and make you less hungry. However, the mechanisms responsible for controlling the hunger hormones after a workout need more research.

A researcher, Dr David Stensel of Britain, said that if you perform high-intensity exercises such as running in hot weather, you will feel less hungry. In contrast, swimming in cold water could raise your hunger hormones and make you crave high-fat food. Medium or low-intensity exercises like slow walking or light jogging will not impact ghrelin much. The findings could confuse you. The bottom line is that exercising and eating healthy can significantly control binge eating.

Work On Your Stress

Chronic stress increases cortisol, which messes up hunger hormones. You will feel hungry too often. More than 50% of women have reported stress issues in menopause. At this point, calming your mind through relaxation and breathing techniques is essential.

Do what gives you pleasure, like walking in the garden, talking with friends, reading a book, etc. If your stress levels become difficult, seek a counselor’s consultation.

Improve Your Sleep Pattern

We have already mentioned in the above section how lessened sleep makes you more hungry. Let’s look at the results of this study, which was conducted on 57 participants. It showed that those who slept insufficiently craved more unhealthy foods. Most menopausal women have sleep issues, especially if they experience hot flashes at night or are troubled with vaginal dryness or any other discomfort.

If you are sleep-deficient, work consciously to improve your sleep. Fix a sleep schedule and avoid napping late in the afternoon or during the evening. If you fidget with your phone at night, it’s time to stop. Electronic gadgets affect sleep, mainly if you use them before bedtime. Talk to the doctor if you have been facing sleep issues for a long time.


When to consult a doctor regarding menopausal cravings?

We have understood so far that menopause causes your hunger hormones to go haywire. However, you cannot pass your hunger cravings as an outcome of hormonal imbalances if you experience the following symptoms.

• Feel hungry most of the time.
• Have irregular eating patterns and crave a lot of junk food
• Have mood swings
• Feel bloated most of the time
• Feel fatigued
• Keep eating till you are uncomfortably full
• Eat when you aren’t hungry

Under such circumstances, you must contact the healthcare provider immediately, as this may indicate an underlying medical condition like Type 2 diabetes, hypoglycemia,m hyperthyroidism, and chronic depression. Increased food cravings are also an aftereffect of medicines like those taken for stabilizing mood and antipsychotics.

Can hormone therapy help with food cravings in menopause?

The role of hormone therapy in managing several menopausal symptoms isn’t unknown. It will also help to tackle food cravings if the hormonal imbalances have caused them. Consult the doctor and seek advice on the kind of hormone therapy to avail of to experience maximum benefits and fewer side effects.


Controlling your cravings doesn’t mean you have to give up all your choicest foods in a go. You need to control yourself from eating too often if that’s what you have been doing lately, as that may trigger weight gain and increase your susceptibility to other health hazards. Hunger cravings once in a while are fine, but if they prolong, you must get to the core and understand what is causing them.


  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.