For those of us who experience symptoms of perimenopause/menopause and post-menopause life can be challenging at times, the symptoms can be a literal pain in the proverbial. 😉
BUT. Yes – hallelujah – I have a lovely but for you! There are some natural and simple steps you can take to help reduce your signs.
1. Reduce Your Intake Of Refined Carbohydrates
Women in the meno years are going through a myriad of physiological changes and it becomes more difficult for our bodies to process refined carbohydrates – they’re the ones with their fibre and nutrients removed – particularly white rice and pasta. I would add white sugar in there too. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that a diet high in these products was likely to coincide with menopause occurring one and a half years earlier than average. There are a lot of reasons we don’t recommend refined carbs: they cause major swings in blood sugar levels, which can promote hunger followed by tiredness (we don’t want any more of that do we ladies?), and increase our risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
That said, not all carbs are bad news so don’t go cutting them out completely. Oats, bananas, sweet potatoes (kumara to Kiwis!) are our friends. 😊
The bonus of getting rid of refined carbohydrate foods? More energy, a general feeling of wellbeing and (probably) weight loss
2. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Before you groan, I absolutely know this is a bugbear for many women during the meno years. It’s completely normal to put on weight during menopause, particularly around the tummy area. Your body shape will probably change during this time but you can maintain a healthy weight. It comes down to altering a lot of what you eat and how you exercise. Focus on whole foods, lots of vegetables and no hard out exercise that sets off your stress levels but things like walking and consistent resistance training.
3. Eat More Fruit and Vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are packed with nutrition and your body doesn’t have to work too hard to digest them (unless you have a health condition that disagrees with this statement). The oft-heard mantra to ‘eat the rainbow’ rings true and should infuse your body with vitamins and minerals which leads to better moods – something we all need during the meno years, stronger bones and all-over better health. A reduction in estrogen can lead to an increase in the incidence of a lot of health issues so robust health becomes more important than ever.
4. Eat More Phytoestrogens
Phyto means plant, and the estrogens, in this case, refers to naturally occurring estrogens in some foods. When you think that the meno years occur because the estrogen levels in our bodies decrease it makes sense to eat more phytoestrogens doesn’t it? They help balance our hormones and studies have shown they help with night sweats and hot flushes. So, where do you find them?
- Edamame beans (soybeans)
- Mung Beans
- Sesame seeds
- Soy milk
5. Avoid Known Triggers
Some food and drinks can trigger signs like hot flushes, night flushes, night sweats and mood swings. These include caffeine, alcohol and spicy victuals like curries and chillies. It’s a sad fact that for some of us (but not for our waistlines(!)) that our customary glass of vino may have to go on hold for a while.
6. Get Your Thyroid Checked
Some women going through the meno years begin to experience issues with their thyroid. This is quite a common malady. A tell-tale sign can be excessive weight gain that you can’t shift. This is often thought to be ‘middle aged spread’. However, mid-life weight gain is not an absolute given so it’s important to check your thyroid health.
7. Some Easy Tips
- Large meals
- Quit smoking
- Drinking coffee after 2 pm
- Having daytime naps (tempting as it is!)
- A regular walk
- A relaxing pre-bed ritual like a warm bath
- Meditation (try headspace)
- Gentle yoga
- The above may be out of your comfort zone but your body and mind will love you for taking up practices like these.