Eating Well

The significance of your dietary choices becomes even more pronounced during the perimenopause and menopause. The fuel you provide your body directly impacts your physical and mental well-being. Understanding what your body requires during hormonal changes and implementing manageable adjustments can substantially affect how you feel and your future health.

In the context of perimenopause and menopause, it’s advisable to focus on foods that support bone health, promote gut health, provide essential fats and B vitamins for mood stability, and include a diverse range of plant-based foods that offer valuable nutrients without causing weight gain.

Initiating significant changes to long-standing habits may initially appear daunting, but it’s not about embarking on a restrictive diet. Rather, comprehending some fundamental principles of healthy eating is key to introducing gradual, health-improving alterations. Incorporating new foods into your diet and adjusting mealtime routines can yield significant benefits over time.

Recommended Dietary Choices...

Numerous studies have highlighted the remarkable benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet for overall health.

This diet emphasises the consumption of plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.

It also includes fermented dairy products, seafood, and sources of Omega-3 oils and unsaturated fats, like olive oil.

Meats and dairy are consumed in smaller quantities, with minimal salt, sugar, or processed foods.

Post-menopause, bone density decreases, rendering bones weaker.

Calcium is crucial for maintaining strong bones and can be found in cheese, yogurt, milk, as well as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, and the soft bones in canned fish.

Vitamin D aids in slowing bone loss and calcium absorption, which can be obtained through sunlight exposure and foods like oily fish and egg yolks, or fortified options like cereals and bread. Considering a vitamin D supplement, especially during autumn and winter, is advisable.

Iron is essential for bone health and maintaining healthy blood cells, along with promoting hair growth. Red meat isn’t the sole source of iron; you can also obtain it from spinach, broccoli, kale, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, cashews, and baked potatoes, among others.

Many women experience abdominal discomfort, bloating, and cramps due to poor gut health.

Your gut contains millions of beneficial bacteria that aid digestion and enhance bowel function. Maintaining a healthy gut can positively impact emotional well-being, serotonin production (the ‘happy hormone’), inflammation reduction, weight management, and overall health.

Foods that support gut health are categorised as prebiotic (stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria) and probiotic (containing live bacteria and yeasts).

  • Prebiotic foods include bananas, blueberries, apples, garlic, onions, and leeks, among others.
  • Probiotic foods, rich in live bacteria and yeasts, encompass options like kefir, live yogurt, kombucha, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

To maintain stable blood sugar levels and avoid mood swings, opt for carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (GI).

Steer clear of refined white carbohydrates found in white bread, rice, and pasta, which can cause rapid glucose release followed by a subsequent drop.

Instead, choose whole-grain bread, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta. Numerous vegetables, such as salad leaves, carrots, and greens, also have a low GI.

Many women turn to alcohol for relaxation or mood elevation, especially during perimenopause and menopause. However, any positive effects are short-lived, while regular alcohol consumption contributes to bone weakening, elevates heart disease risk, reduces mood, disrupts sleep, and may worsen hot flushes and night sweats.

If possible, aim to reduce alcohol intake and incorporate alcohol-free days into your week. If you do choose to drink, limit yourself to a small glass of wine, beer, cider, or a single measure of spirits.

Your Dietary Principles...

Emphasise Variety and Vegetables

Prioritise a diverse range of plant-based foods, often referred to as ‘eating the rainbow’ of fruits and vegetables. Fill half your plate with vegetables during lunch and dinner, encompassing not just fruits and vegetables but also whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. Shift your perspective to consider vegetables as the central element of your meals, with two or more vegetarian meals weekly.

Embrace Healthy Fats

Not all fats are detrimental; some are essential for your health. Healthy fats, found in olive oil, nuts, butter, and avocados, should be included in your diet. It’s saturated fats, frequently present in processed foods, that you should aim to avoid.

Allow breaks between meals

Although it can be challenging with busy schedules, ensuring that your gut has ample time between meals is vital for various physiological processes that sustain good health. Aim for a 12–14-hour gap between your evening meal and breakfast the following day. Late-night snacking has been linked to higher obesity levels.

Gradual, realistic changes

Begin introducing healthier dietary changes by incorporating more vegetables into your favourite meals. Adjust the proportions on your plate to prioritise vegetables gradually. This approach doesn’t entail food restriction, and you can still feel satiated after consuming a healthier meal. Plan your meals for the week ahead and make alterations to include healthier options in your online shopping basket while reducing processed snacks.