Menopause can be one of the trickiest times for women to get their head around. One minute you’re 30, full of energy to do all the things you want in your life and all of a sudden it seems life and age have snuck up on you. You start to notice you get tired more easily, some days you’re literally dragging yourself through the day, you’ve lost your get up and go for no reason, the weight you used to be able to lose in the run-up to an important event stays stubbornly in place no matter what you try, and you can’t seem to shift that foggy feeling in your brain.
The menopause actually refers to a time when you haven’t had a single period for at least a year. The run-up to it can last for years, known as the peri-menopause. Think of it as the menopause transition. It can take eight to ten years! Women typically start to experience it in their 40s – and often the most obvious signs are that there are changes in your period (bleed length & heaviness) – though for some women it can even start in their 30s.
In the peri-menopause, levels of one of the main female sex hormones, oestrogen, rises and falls unevenly. The length of time between periods may be longer or shorter, your flow may be light to really heavy and with worse PMS than ever before, and you may even skip some periods – before they come back with a vengeance.
You might also experience some of the symptoms traditionally associated with the menopause, like night sweats, hot flushes, sleep problems, mood swings, more UTI’s like cystitis and vaginal dryness. Around this time, you might begin to notice that weight loss becomes trickier and your digestion gets a little shaky.
If you are really struggling with your energy levels, it’s worth getting your thyroid checked, if it hasn’t already been. Peri-menopausal and menopausal women are at greater risk of thyroid dysfunction. Added to this, thyroid symptoms can mimic menopausal symptoms. The ovaries, uterus, adrenal glands and the brain require adequate thyroid hormones to function.
WHAT ARE MENOPAUSAL FOODS?
There are things you may want to think about including in your diet when approaching or going through the menopause. Remember there is no ‘one size fits all’ diet, so it is about establishing the right diet for you. This will depend on your lifestyle, age, activity level ect.
- Maintaining stable blood sugar levels by eating at regular times everyday is key. Try to avoid snacking between meals.
- Include a wide variety of vegetables. Abundance and variety is key.
- Remove all grains.
- Include healthy fats at every meal. Organic extra virgin olive oil, organic grass fed butter, avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds; especially flaxseeds.
- Include good quality protien with each meal. This can be vegetarian plant protien or organic animal products.
- Vegetarian protien options include organic eggs, lentils, almonds, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, mung beans, chickpeas, almonds.
- Include a variety of cruciferous vegetables, especially broccoli.
- Focus on dark berry fruits. Blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries. Avoid adding sugar to berries.
- Include fresh herbs and spices in your cooking and herbal teas. Parsley, coriander, sage, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon & ginger.
- Herbal teas such as sage, liquorice, nettle, chamomile, ginger, rooibos.
- Phytooestrogens are a type of environmental oestrogen. They are plant based oestrogens that you may want to include regularly in your diet. Include organic miso, organic tofu & flax seeds (30g/day).
- Include sea vegetables. Wakame, nori, seagreens, arame & sea buckthorn.
What should I avoid eating during the menopause?
- Processed sugar.
- Processed meat – non organic sliced hams, salamis, sausages, bacon, cured meats.
- White carbohydrates. White bread, white rice, white pasta. Switch grains for high carbohydrate vegetables, such as sweet potato, pumpkin, squash, carrots, beetroots, parsnips, celeriac.
- Alcohol. Have at least 5 alcohol free days every week.
- Excessive spice.
- Excessive salt.
- Excess caffeine. Max one coffee per day.
- High stress. Managing stress levels is essential.
- Processed soy products. Soya milks and soya yogurts.
Include a variety of fresh herbs abundantly in your cooking!
In terms of lifestyle support, it is important to find activities that you do for pure joy, enjoyment and relaxation. This will be different for everyone, but carving out some time each day to do something for yourself will help lower stress levels in the body.
Cooking, a long bath, reading, walking in nature, yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, listening to music, painting, dancing, tai chi, laughter, playing with your kids, calling a friend, lying in the garden, gardening…or even a simple siesta!
Sleep. Poor sleep impacts the adrenals, thyroid and hormone regulation, whilst also increasing the risk of metabolic dysfunction. A good quality diet may reduce the severity and frequency of night sweats. To help promote good quality sleep, introduce a bedtime ritual & stick to regular bedtimes. Consider your sleeping environment and make sure it is conducive to good quality sleep. You may like to include tryptophan rich foods (organic poultry, organic egg whites, spinach, organic soy, spirulina & sweet potato). Be conscious of having caffeine too late in the day, heavy foods late at night & alcohol too close to bed.
Where possible try and reduce your exposure to environmental pollution, through a healthy diet, filtered water, pure air & reducing exposure to allergens.
A Healthy Menopause Diet will include an abundance of vegetables, fresh fruits, high quality protien & healthy fats. Eating consciously may help to reduce menopause symptoms. But remember the exact make up of your menu plan will be unique to your lifestyle, tastes & preferences.Beanie Robinson
Key Menopause Vitamins, Minerals & Adaptogens
You may like to consider:
- Vitamin D. Particularly if you live in the Northern Hemisphere. Take from October to May.
- Collagen peptides.
- Antioxidants e.g glutathione peroxidase.
- Adaptogens e.g. rhodiola and ashwagandha.
- Black cohosh.
- B complex, including B2, B5 & B6.
- Vitamins A, C & E.
- Sea buckthorn oil.
- Epsom salts to add to your bath.
Needs some help with a Nutrition Plan?
If you would like support getting started, book your FREE discovery call today. I will be happy to put a personalised Nutrition Plan, with supplements & exercise routine together for you or simply do a food diary review on your current diet.