As it’s World Menopause Day, I thought I’d share my experiences.
Cue dramatic music and a woman screaming (that’ll probably be me!)
After the unpredictability of my teenage periods, it was a relief to take The Pill and have fairly easy, regular periods for the next 20 years or so.
I rarely experienced PMS and only had occasional period pain and maybe one day a month when I felt a bit hot and sweaty.
I heard of the menopause and thought it wouldn’t happen until I’m in my 50s. I’d never even heard of the perimenopause and wasn’t prepared for it.
It started when I was 43. I experienced hot flushes where I felt like I was baking my face in my oven. (I turn a fetching colour of pink!)
Then I missed 3 periods. I had blood tests, hoping there’s a remotest chance I was pregnant but, no. They showed fluctuations in my hormone levels, as characteristic of the perimenopause.
I was ok for a few months. I even had a couple of periods and thought that it wasn’t too bad.
Then, my periods stopped again. And along came insomnia, hot sweats, brain fog, lightheadedness, the worst period pain I’ve ever had, clumsiness and MOOD SWINGS! One minute I feel fine. The next, I want to curl up in a ball and suck my thumb. And then, I’m so irritable, I want to rip someone’s face off!! Grrrr…..!!
I haven’t, as yet, been to the doctor about these symptoms. So, if you have more chance of having an audience with the Queen of England than getting an appointment with your GP, then read on and I’ll share what I do to cope with the perimenopausal demons.
Exercise. Yes. It does help, especially when I’m feeling crap about myself.
Foods to add.
Protein. Spread it out over 3 meals and a snack. E.g. peanut butter on toast, salmon or chicken to a salad, beans for dinner, eggs, lentils and yoghurt.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids have been associated with decreased inflammation, as well as improvement in moods. Fish is a good source, flaxseeds or linseeds to combat bad moods and irritability.
Fibre keeps you fuller for longer. About 21 to 25g is the amount you should be aiming for. The best foods for this carbohydrate are, whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables.
Calcium. Unfortunately, the risk of osteoporosis increases at this stage. Best sources of calcium include:-
- milk, cheese and other dairy foods.
- green leafy vegetables – such as broccoli, cabbage and okra.
- soya beans.
- soya drinks with added calcium.
- bread and anything made with fortified flour.
- fish where you eat the bones – such as sardines and pilchards.
Eat more foods which contain an amino acid called trytophan. Trytophan helps to make serotonin; a neurotransmitter which helps moods, possibly controls sleep and appetite.
Eat breakfast and DON’T skip meals. This will help to balance your blood sugar.
Eat phytoestrogens (Plant oestrogens). Found in soya, linseeds, tofu, other seeds like pumpkin seeds, celery and chia seeds. Phytoestrogens bind with oestrogen receptor sites in the body cells, acting in a similar way to oestrogen, to help to keep hormones a little more in balance. A high intake of phytoestrogens is thought to explain why hot flushes and other menopausal symptoms rarely occur in populations consuming a mainly plant-based diet.
Eat red meat no more than twice a week.
Eat and drink more:-
- Olive oil and coconut oil
- Oats, brown rice, quinoa
- Plenty of vegetables, particularly cruciferous ones like broccoli, spinach and carrots.
Foods to Avoid.
Don’t cry, but they are spicy foods, caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods and junk food.
I know. It’s crap, isn’t it, but when it was Christmas where I had copious amounts of sugar, alcohol etc. my symptoms were noticeably worse. I’d frequently wake up drenched in sweat and suffered hourly, hot sweats during the day. When I went back to my normal meals, I was better.
Here is an example of what I eat.
A.m. Oats soaked overnight in soya milk, with 1tsp of cinnamon and 2-3 tbsp of frozen berries, 3tbsp of a seed mixture (hemp, linseed & chia), 2tbsp of flax seeds, 1 cup of ordinary tea or green tea.
Lunch. Houmous and cucumber or peanut butter sandwich, a clementine and soya yoghurt.
Evening meal. Usually vegetarian chicken, mince, steak slices etc. with rice, quinoa, pasta etc. and spinach leaves and frozen edamame beans.
Supper. 1 red grapes, a handful of any nuts and a kiwi.
I have stopped drinking caffeine after my first drink in the morning. I drink either decaf or herbal teas.
I am an occasional drinker.
I eat mild spices.
I have cut down on sugary foods.
Though I know the perimenopause is unpredictable, I feel much better and attribute this to the above diet.
I’ve endured the perimenopause and now going through the menopause. I’m still finding my current diet and exercise helps me immensely.
healthline.com, kfnutritioncoaching.com, nhs.uk bbcgoodfood.com.