Many women find themselves gaining ten to twenty pounds around the middle as they approach perimenopause or menopause that no amount of dieting will significantly reduce. It’s the dreaded middle age spread! You’ll just have to get used to your changing body, right? Wrong! The middle age spread doesn’t have to stay there; its stubbornness is probably due to hormonal imbalances. Hormones play a big role in your body’s ability to lose weight. Check for these common culprits that might be preventing you from maintaining your ideal body weight.

 1. You have an estrogen dominance problem. When your estrogen levels are too high in comparison to your progesterone levels, this hormonal imbalance leads to weight gain in the hips and thighs. It also causes water retention and a slow metabolism. When you gain weight, your fat cells put out even more estrogen, precisely what your body doesn’t need! If this sounds like you, try eating 30-45 grams of fiber a day. Estrogen is expelled from the body in your solid waste, and fiber can keep this more regular.

 2. You have a vitamin D deficiency. Decades ago, we were getting much more vitamin D because we were spending much more time outside…and because we were not wearing sunscreen. While we’ve improved on the latter, spending too much time inside has caused many of us to be vitamin D deficient. It’s important to get enough vitamin D, since its deficiency is linked to gaining that deep visceral fat, which is so hard to get rid of and the most hazardous to your health! It can be linked to fatigue, food allergies, MS, and cancer. Make sure you’re getting at least 50ng/mL of vitamin D.

Other problems might include elevated cortisol (aka “the stress hormone”) levels or thyroid problems. High cortisol increases blood sugar and insulin levels, adding to fat storage. Thyroid problems are linked to estrogen, and other hormonal imbalances.