Eating For Menopause
Like time and tides, nothing is more certain - all women will experience menopause at some stage in their life. Symptoms vary from person to person but the most common symptoms include; hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, poor memory and fatigue. Long term consequences linked to reduced estrogen levels can include a decline in libido, osteoporosis, heart disease and even dementia.
You may have heard what you eat can make a difference. For some people, eating, and avoiding certain types of foods can make the menopause a lot more bearable. So here’s the low down on common problems women going through menopause may face and some foods to watch out for:
1. Hot flushes
Stay away from stimulants such as coffee, alcohol, chocolate and spicy foods, especially at night - they're notorious for setting off hot flushes. If needing a pick-me-up, try drinking fruit or herbal tea served over crushed ice and served with lemon and fresh mint. Delicious!
To be honest, life can make you tired let alone menopause.
Fight it by:
- making sure you are getting plenty of good quality sleep.
- eating well and choosing fresh, whole food where you can.
- eating regular meals and not too much.
- exercising regularly.
Sadly, there's no magic bullet.
3. Weight gain
Ask any woman in her fifties, almost overnight there it is, 5 lbs that wasn’t there yesterday. What to do?
- Choose wholegrain breads and cereals such as brown rice, whole-meal pasta and wholegrain bread. These foods are healthy and have the bonus of keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
- When preparing and serving meals, aim to have half your plate vegetables.
- Include a wide range of colorful vegetables and experiment with interesting flavor combinations. These foods will maximize your intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber and keep your saturated fat levels low.
- Choose healthier cooking methods like stir frying, baking and broiling rather than frying.
- Look hard at your plate size, getting a smaller plate is a great hack for losing weight.
- Slow down. If you are a quick eater, take more time over your meals. This gives time for your mind to receive the signal that you’ve had enough. Don’t know how to slow down – chew more and put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls. You’ll be surprised how much less you’ll eat and still end up feeling like you’ve had enough.
- Drink water or soup before a meal – fills you up with less calories.
4. Dry skin
Save money – save your skin. Eat legumes, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin, sunflower, and almonds. These foods are rich in vitamin E, zinc and calcium which help to prevent dry skin and normalize hormone levels.
5. Depression and irritability
To reduce blah feelings associated with menopause make sure you eat enough protein foods rich in tryptophan. You can find it in turkey, cottage cheese, oats and legumes. Tryptophan helps make the neurotransmitter serotonin which helps you feel good, sleep well and promotes a healthy appetite. Remember to always eat breakfast and don’t skip meals.
6. Bone health
Women need a higher intake of calcium and vitamin D after menopause to help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Excellent dietary sources of calcium include:
- dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- dark green vegetables, (e.g. broccoli, spinach)
- fish with bones in (e.g. sardines, salmon).
To help maximize calcium absorption make sure you get out in the sunlight so that your body can make enough Vitamin D to help with calcium absorption. Ten minutes exposure (with your sleeves rolled up) each day is considered enough. Limiting alcohol and caffeine and not smoking are also important.