You have arrived! You have worked hard building a career, taking care of your home and family and building relationships with friends. Now it’s time to start focusing on you. There are so many things you want to do….and then IT starts. Insomnia, hot flashes, night sweats, fatigue, aching joints, mood swings, forgetfulness, weight gain, anxiety, vaginal dryness, sagging libido AARGH!! All the things you have done in the past to maintain your weight, your mood and your energy levels aren’t working anymore. The menopause monster has sneaked up behind you and pulled the rug out from under you. Your hormones (or lack of them) are taking control. But you can take back that control.
OBLIGATORY DISCLAIMER: Serious menopause symptoms, such as extreme anxiety, depression and mood swings should mean a consult with a doctor. END OF DISCLAIMER In my 30 years experience as a health and PE teacher, and more recently, a certified personal trainer I know that many adverse physical symptoms we experience can be improved with the proper diet. But what is the proper diet, now that the game has changed???
I’ll be chatting about that in depth over the next few weeks. I can’t give you a meal plan. You’ll need a registered dietitian for that. I’ll give you some guidelines to follow to steer you in the right direction.
One important thing you want to increase in your diet is phytoestrogens. Most of you are thinking, “What the h%&* are those? There is no way I can find them in the grocery store!” Phytoestrogens are just a fancy way to say plant based estrogens. They are important to you now because your body is producing way less estrogen than it used to. You need a way to balance this lack of estrogen out at the cellular level. So what foods contain plant based estrogens?
Fruits and vegetables and whole grains should be a main staple of your diet. Here’s why: Your lower estrogen levels are slowing down your production of lean muscle. Lean muscle requires more fuel to operate than the same amount of body fat. Less muscle means a slower metabolism, which equals weight gain. Estrogen also acts as an appetite suppressant, so even though you need less calories to get through your day, you are hungry for more.
Other benefits of fruits and vegetables:
- Fiber– this keeps you feeling full longer and aids in proper digestive health
- Folic Acid-lowers risk for cardiovascular disease, which goes up after menopause
- Antioxidants-reduces hot flashes
- Vitamin C-boosts your immune system
- High water content-Keeps your skin and mucous membranes hydrated
- Natural sugar-helps avoid the insulin spikes and crashes associated with processed sugar (which causes fatigue and over eating)
A 53 year old woman weighing 130 lbs. needs 2 cups of veggies a day and 1 1/2 cups of fruit to maintain her weight. (Be honest, how many of you are eating that much right now?) Fresh are best, followed by frozen, then canned. Fresh retain the most nutrients. To find out how much fruits and veggies you need, go to choosemyplate.gov
- B vitamins-boosts energy
- Fiber-digestive health
- Complex carbohydrates-keeps you full longer and helps avoid those nasty insulin spikes and crashes
- Folic acid-lowers cardiovascular disease risk
A 53 year old woman weighing 130 lbs, needs 5 oz. of whole grains per day to maintain weight.
What counts as whole grains?
- 100% whole grain bread, flour or pasta
- Stone ground whole grains
- brown rice
Take back control from the menopause monster, head to the grocery store and load up on phytoestrogens! Get cooking and let me know how you feel.