Sonya Anderson of Her Fitness Journal contributed this timely guest blog post. The holidays are here and overindulging is hard to avoid. Her common sense diet guidelines can help us get through them in a healthy, balanced way, while also helping ease some of the symptoms of menopause.
In addition to this helpful post, Sonya offered this question to all of us: if we know what and how we should eat for better health, why don’t we do it? I’d love to hear from any and all goddesses about those things that get in our way. (I’ll share mine at the end of this post.)
The Six Diet Guidelines To Ease Out The Symptoms Of Menopause
A normal occurrence for women between the ages of forty to fifty, the cessation of menstruation is mainly caused by a physiological factor; ovulation no longer occurs. The clinical manifestations of menopause vary from mild to severe. This may be accompanied by psychological symptoms like; feelings of loss, children grown, the aging process starts to occur. At the same time a menopausal woman experiences hot flashes and nervous symptoms such as, depression, insomnia, weakness and dizziness. Women must keep in mind that during this time diseases like Atherosclerosis and Osteoporosis are more likely to develop. These characteristics are completely irreversible but with the help of a proper diet it can be alleviated and help the menopausal woman cope well and adapt to the changes they may experience while the symptoms occur.
Here are six diet suggestions to help ease out the symptoms of menopause.
Have Enough Calcium
Every menopausal woman must be aware that their bones are prone to being brittle and fragile. It is important to consume more calcium, take supplements and exercise as well. Sources can be found mostly in dairy products, nonfat milk, yogurt, cheese, and canned salmon with bones, dried beans and dark leafy green vegetables. An ideal intake of 1,200 milligrams a day is generally advised.
Load Up On Iron Intake
Having a minimum of three servings daily ensures that Iron, an essential constituent of hemoglobin is fully supplemented in the body. The best sources are; liver, kidney, heart, cooked dry beans, lean pork and beef, dried fruits such as apricots, peaches, prunes and raisins. Fair sources include; spinach, mustard, nuts and greens.
High Fiber Foods
A high roughage (fiber) diet is prescribed to avoid constipation and reduce the presence of cholesterol in the body. Have enough servings of fiber from the following sources; whole wheat breads and pastas, cereals, oats, rice grains, unrefined bran, fruits and vegetables. Fiber helps lower cholesterol level by keeping the cholesterol intake from being absorbed into the body. Consume more than 20 grams daily.
Fresh Fruits And Vegetables
They are valued because of the essential vitamins and minerals they contain. Incorporate at least 2 cups of full servings daily for better absorption of its nutrients.
Eat Less Fat
Foods that are rich in fat content are a definite no. Limit the intake of food loaded with saturated fat. Consuming too much fat is unhealthy and may lead to weight problems and heart disease. Saturated fat usually comes from animal meat sources (fat portions of pork, beef, and chicken skin). Trans-fat sources include cakes, pastries; butter/margarine based foods and processed foods (hotdogs, bacons, sausages, etc.). The goal is to limit fat consumption to less than one third of the required calorie intake.
Moderate Use Of Sugar And Salt Intake
The presence of too much sodium contributes to high blood pressure levels. Avoid highly salted foods and sugar based food products such as; canned soups, potato chips, carbonated soda or beverages. Reduce intake of processed foods as well since they contain too much salt and nitrates which are linked to fatal diseases (cancer, heart attack, diabetes etc.).
Visit Sonya’s blog at Her Fitness Journal.
OK, back to the question: what keeps us from eating healthy on a regular basis? As I promised, I’ll go first. Hmmmmm. Well, I’ll eat cake or pie if someone made it so I don’t hurt their feelings. (Also a good rationalization.) Oh yes, when I gained weight no matter how much I exercised or ate properly. Because then I felt like it just didn’t matter. Or when I just get too lazy to make something say, gluten free, when I can just buy something already made with processed flour and such.
What gets in your way? I think this might be a very good conversation – and we might all gain from it. So let us know your thoughts right here in the comments. Thanks, Sonya, for starting a thought provoking discussion.
That the great food for diet.
Weight gain, specifically a thickening around the waist, is another sign of changing hormones levels during menopause. While some sources claim that menopause has nothing to do with weight gain , hormonal changes during menopause actually influence weight gain and redistribution of fat. For example, fewer circulating estrogen hormones lead the body to retain more fat cells as an alternative source of components of estrogen.
Women going through the menopause should increase their intake of food sources of calcium, magnesium and vitamins D and K to maintain integrity of the skeleton. In addition, high amounts of phosphorous – found in red meat, processed foods and fizzy drinks – should also be avoided. Too much phosphorous in the diet accelerates the loss of minerals such as calcium and magnesium from bone. Reducing sodium, caffeine and protein from animal products can also help the body maintain calcium stores.
Studies have shown that increasing the intake of soy foods, like soy drinks, soy nuts, tofu and miso, can cut the frequency of hot flashes in half. In addition, soy foods have much less fat than their non-soy counterparts, which can be a big help for those trying to lose weight.
Please be careful about making diet and nutrition recommendations when you are not a nutrition professional. As a Registered Dietitian, and in menopause myself, I know never to recommend increased iron when menses stop. Also the recommendation for fat has changed. WE don’t say “eat less fat”, but instead recommend healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, olive and coconut oils, etc. And only 2 cups of Fruits and Veggies?? Try 4-5 cups per day.
You are absolutely right, Heidi. Guest posts don’t always reflect my beliefs and philosophy, however I will monitor more closely any recommendations. (As an RN, I agree with the decreased iron, unless of course one has been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, like my mom.) Your comment is a perfect segue into the next blog post on the dietary regimen I use now – the Fast Metabolism diet (should be called the healthy living diet, really). I do believe that no diet is the one best diet for each woman – I know some Menopause Goddesses who actually only thrive on the Adkins style diet, others who follow Dean Ornish’s very low fat diet with great results, etc. The hard part is finding the best diet for yourself – alas a little trial and error is involved. For me, your recommendations are spot on: healthy fats, loads of fruits and veggies, and healthy carbs like quinoa, amaranth, and brown rice. Thanks for reading and for your insights.
Awesome! Looking forward to your next post. I agree that one diet approach doesnt fit all. Unfortunately, Hormone changes — change all the rules.
Oh yes, Heidi. You can say that again!
The good news here is that if you are a woman going through menopause, hot flashes are within your control. It may take some diet and lifestyle changes on your part, but you don’t have to suffer through hot flashes and accept them as a “normal” part of that time in your life. You can fight back with food, and, best of all, the foods you eat to help curb hot flashes will benefit your overall health as well.