03 Nov reframing the menopause – part 2: Food
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Here is the link to my recipe e-book:
n part 1 I explained how numerous factors influence how we experience our peri and post menopausal years.
One of the key factors shopping our expense is food:
To avoid the feelings of overwhelm and to eliminate the idea of restrictive diets, the food as punishment or to atone for things we have eaten that we feel bad about – I feel it’s helpful to have some general guidelines that you can incorporate gradually and this means that if you are not following a fixed diet plan then it will help you adapt to any situation you might find yourself in.
6 key principles
Eat whole foods – foods that don’t really need a label as you can see what’s in it.
Eat in Colour – avoid the beige – Include lots of colour and leafy greens
Eat a variety of foods – batch cooking is great if we have use of a freezer or if you do batch cook and keep in fridge try and add in different sides on the day so you are not eating the same meal every day for a week
Eat balanced meals – containing protein, healthy fats and slow release carbs
Hydrate – make water your main source of liquid intake
Don’t aim for perfection
Now these are general guidelines and the exact details of what you eat and the foods that are best suited for you will depend on you unique biochemistry. However, these principles are an amazing starting point
Eating whole foods – mean we are eliminating lots of added bits – additives, colourings, preservatives, minimising our exposure to seed oils like sunflower oil.
We are eating things as close to nature as possible. Minimising the amount of processing the food has been through. Minimising the amount of food we buy that comes in boxes.
Stepping away from sugar laden breakfast cereals. Breakfast doesn’t have to come out of a box. It can be far more colourful.
Talking about colour – try eating in colour – increase your plant intake. Include lots of vegetables – visualising the rainbow can help you try and eat one thing from every colour every day. These will be bursting with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibre to support your health.
Challenge yourself with how many colours can you get on your plate? Step away from the beige and those processed boxed carbohydrates with all their health claims and eat the colourful foods and try and add lots of leafy greens.
Another important reason to include more plants in your diet is Phytoestrogens – you might have heard of these – these are found in some plants and they share a similar chemical structure to our natural oestrogen. Eating some of these can be helpful during peri and post menopause as they can help our body believe that it has enough oestrogen.
The key thing to know is that our body has 2 types of oestrogen receptors beta and alpha receptors. Alpha receptors are found in breasts, ovaries and womb whereas the beta receptors are found in our brain, bones, blood vessels and bladder. So eating a varied selection of foods that stimulate the beta ones ( as phytoestrogens do) can help support healthy bones, brain, bladder and blood vessels. So include a variety of sources like soy, chickpeas, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Soy should be organic and fermented – so for example organic unsweetened soy milk, tofu, tempeh miso. Balance – is key with everything – don’t over consume any one item. So also remember variety.
One type of phytoestrogen – lignans – are also useful. Flaxseeds are an excellent source. These hep stimulate a protein that binds to excess hormones and and also are transformed into health supporting compounds in our gut which can also help balance oestrogen. Freshly ground flaxseeds are the best – you can buy a simple spice grinder and grind them in one of these. In my e book there’s a lovely flaxseed porridge recipe.
Include Healthy proteins: poultry, fish – white and oily, red meat (slow low cooked), eggs, some legumes beans if they suit you ……
Oily fish (SMASH) sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring – fantastic sources of Omega 3 fatty acids – EPA and DHA – anti inflammatories – helping to protect our heart, bones, joints and brain.
I know oily fish can be a tricky one for people to consider incorporating into their diets but I have a few suggestions that can help you hide it and then you can gradually increase the hidden amounts as your taste. Buds adapt. Consuming sources of EPA and DHA is very important as these forms are ready to use by the body and don’t need to be converted within our body. They are good to go!
As there are so many delicious foods out there I don’t usually recommend forcing yourself to eat anything you hate – however EPA and DHA from oily fish are the exception – so give it a go and try the suggestions and see if you can manage it. If you just can’t do it – then consider supplementation.
Check out the recipes in the e-book – you’ll find some simple ways to sneak some omega 3s into your recipes.
Healthy fats: first I must say – please don’t use vegetables oils like canola oil, sunflower oils these can promote inflammation in our bodies and create rigid cell membranes – whereas we want flexible cell membranes to support cell communication
So avocado, olives, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut, coconut oil, grass fed ghee are great options. Again the oil that’s right for you will depend on your own unique situation.
Eat eggs, oily fish, nuts and seeds. Try not to fear the fat.
Please avoid low fat products – they often contain extra sugar and or artificial sweeteners – we want to avoid these. Go full fat or go home.
So how do you balance each meal?
A balanced meal is important – a mixture of healthy fat, protein and slow release carbs as explained above.
So at Breakfast or the first meal of the day – as the timing of this might vary according to your needs, consider thinking about the fact that your digestive system has rested overnight and all your gut microbes will be ready for food.
So think about the first thing that you eat in the morning.
Those gut microbes that love what you eat are given a real leg up. So If you’re eating a sugar laden breakfast you are giving those sugar loving microbes a head start. You want to feed the microbes that are health supporting.
Balanced meals also help to stabilise blood sugar so we keep our energy levels stable and avoid highs and lows of blood sugar roller coaster and help prevent insulin resistance and T2DM.
So for breakfast – think outside the box – it doesn’t have to be what’s traditionally regarded as breakfast – toast jam croissants, cereal orange juice etc.
it could be anything – pressed for time it could be an omelet with leftover vegetables or scrambled eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach watercress or a bacon wrap but loaded with leafy greens avocado tomato slices.
Chia puddings – can be delicious – with added yoghurt and a dash of vanilla essence and the beauty of these is that they can be made in advance. Or if you forget make it in a jam jar and simply shake – and leave to stand while you go to shower or get dressed.
The e-book recipe book that I’ve created for you gives you some suggestions and ideas for different meals – use it as a starting point and gradually introduce some new meals – google for different ideas and tweak any of your favourite meals to follow the guidelines above.
Hydration is so important for optimal body function – it can be easy to mistake hunger for dehydration so do focus on your water intake. Hydration and fibre are also key for eliminating waste. Ideally we want to be having a poo once or twice a day. It’s important that we eliminate hormones that are bodies have used and processed and so we want to avoid constipation.
Avoiding perfection – foods should be eaten without feelings of guilt.
If you follow the principles most of the time – they will become second nature then your body
Don’t fear that piece of birthday cake or drink with friends – just be mindful that you can enjoy these occasionally.
Let’s not make food about punishment or guilt or fear,, but rather about nourishment and joy.
Give some of these suggestions a try (see the link to my ebook of some recipe suggestions).
If you still feel you need help to resolve your health concerns or you are looking for more support please reach out by clicking the link below to book a discovery call with me.