Mood swings, weak bones, slower reaction times, hot flashes, and unsightly rolls of flab – menopause can be quite daunting, to say the least. This is nothing but a reality check that your body is changing. Every woman struggles to terms with this “change” during her last period, which is both physical and emotional. On an average, it is reported that women reach menopause at age 51, but it can also be earlier or later.
Understanding What Causes Menopause
Blame your hormones, ladies. As you age, your ovaries start producing less estrogen and progesterone, the two main hormones that your body needs for reproduction. Your estrogen levels going down signals one of the very first signs of “menopausal transition” – irregular periods with unusually heavy or light bleeding. The interval between your periods may also become much longer.
Symptoms Of Menopause
Menopausal symptoms vary from woman to woman but some of the most common symptoms include:
- Hot Flashes
- Weight Gain
- Vaginal Dryness And Decreased Libido
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Difficulty In Sleeping
- Depression And Mood Swings
- Skin, Hair, And Other Tissue Changes
What Foods To Avoid During Menopause
It is very clear that in
1. Refined, Artificial Sugars
The hormonal fluctuations during menopause can make it difficult for your body to maintain the right blood sugar levels, hence reducing your sugar intake is important to maintain your weight.
Therefore, it is best to avoid anything that contains artificial, refined sugars like cakes, cookies, ice creams, chocolates, processed fruit juices, etc.
Instead, Try – Natural sugar-rich sources, like fruits. Do not make the mistake of eliminating sugar altogether. Your body still needs a balanced diet to function – it’s just that with age, it has more trouble with refined and artificial sugars. The natural sugars found in fruits are good for your body and your diet, so stick with those.
High Glycemic Index Carbs
If you’re a pasta lover, giving this one up might be devastating for you. Foods like bagels, pretzels, pasta, and surprisingly, even cereal, have been known to be responsible for accelerating the aging process of your skin and can cause skin-related nightmares like acne and rosacea, so you might want to consider twirling zucchini strands around your fork instead.
Make sure to steer clear of self-proclaimed ‘healthy’ cereals with whole grains; they might be lower in glycemic index, but can be loaded with can be loaded with ingredients made from genetically modified soy, canola, sugar beets, corn, and toxic pesticides which are useless for your body.
Instead, Try – Loading your pasta with extra vegetables, or eat it with a salad. That way, you will be consuming less of the carbs, and will also get your healthy dose of vegetables.
3. Fat-Free Foods
Reduced-fat or fat-free foods spell bad news for menopausal women for a couple of reasons.
They stop you from eating the healthy fats needed by your body to fight heart disease, something that menopausal women may find themselves at increased risk of due to reduced estrogen, lack of exercise, and a poor diet. American Heart Association.
By eating fat-free foods, you gain in sugar what you lose in fat, which is not a wise choice if you’re trying to lose or control your weight, preserve your energy and maintain your overall health.
Instead, Try – Minimally processed, plant-based fat sources like nuts, avocados and salmon which are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin E, and omega-3s. Ingesting these fats help reduce low-density cholesterol (LDL) or bad cholesterol and is even linked with colon cancer prevention. Plus, they also lead to better, brighter moods!
4. Fast Foods
You may argue that menopause or no menopause, life still goes on and continues to be
Instead, Try – Lunches packed at home that are made with leftovers from home cooked meals. If you have to eat a meal on the go, ditch the cheeseburger and opt for something healthier on the menu like a grilled-chicken sandwich with whole-grain bread and lots of vegetables.
5. Fatty Meats
Not only do meats like brisket and bacon contain high levels of saturated fats, they can also decrease the serotonin levels in your body. This will only further aggravate your rotten moods and make you feel cranky and irritated.
Instead, Try – Trimmer alternative options that are 90% lean like turkey, chicken, and ground beef.
6. Multiple Helpings
It is understandable that “the blues” may make you want to turn to alcohol for comfort, but remember to stay well within the limit, which according to The North American Menopause Society should be no more than 7 drinks per week and no more than 3 drinks on any single day.1 Heavy drinking may be responsible for increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes. Sometimes, too much alcohol – especially red wine, may also make you more susceptible to hot flashes, because it relaxes your blood vessels and brings in more blood to the surface of your skin.
Instead, Try – Wine that is naturally low in alcohol (as low as 9%). Try a white wine spritzer with fruit, which is much lower in alcohol than most standard drinks.
If you are a member of the clean eating brigade, get yourself a glass of matcha
Low-alcohol beer is also a good option; it may be a little more watery than the usual, but still tastes good.
7. Spicy Foods
You may dislike bland food, but putting in that extra effort to stop yourself from adding more spice to your food will help you in the long run. Foods that perch themselves high on the heat scale are responsible for triggering those unpleasant hot flashes.
Instead, Try – Adding spices like cumin, turmeric, basil, and curry to your food. These can add a more interesting kick to a boring dish by bringing in more flavor, without the excess heat.
Your beloved morning cup o’ joe could actually turn into your enemy by worsening your menopause
Instead, Try – Hot caffeine-free peppermint or ginger tea, both caffeine-free. Or better yet, go for a stroll in the fresh air, if you need some extra energy. That way, you can kill two birds with one stone – not only do you avoid giving into caffeine, but you also keep yourself more fit.
Lifestyle Habits That Can Make Menopause Better
Whatever age you’re at, health is the ultimate gift – one we should work hard to preserve. Try not to focus your thoughts on what you can’t change, when there are so many things that you can do to help you age healthily and gracefully. Keeping that in mind, here are a few healthy lifestyle choices you can make to help you better tackle the inevitable.
1. Go Easy On Calcium Supplements
It is true that bone density declines during and after menopause, but ingesting calcium supplements of more than 1000 mg per day could be a grave mistake. Ingesting excessive quantities of calcium carries health risks like constipation, kidney stones, constipation, and even heart disease. It is instead, wiser to have a calcium-rich diet by including natural sources of this mineral like green leafy vegetables, and dairy products
2. Exercise Often
Exercising both during and after menopause can combat a lot of the menopause symptoms. Regular exercise can help in preventing weight gain, reducing the risk of breast, colon and endometrial cancer, and preventing diseases like type 2 diabetes. Exercise is also known to be a great mood booster and can lower the occurrence of depression and cognitive decline. You can also maintain the strength of your bones by doing a few resistance-based exercises that will put your bones under healthy stress and keep you from popping too many calcium supplements.
3. Hydrate Yourself Regularly
Hydration and metabolism are very closely related. If you are under-hydrated, you may find yourself reaching out for junk food which is going to sabotage your energy levels and weight maintenance plans. Hydrate yourself regularly to keep salt and sugar cravings and weight gain problems at bay.
4. Don’t Encourage Eating Your Feelings
The transition into menopause is never smooth and can be emotionally intense for many of us. It is, therefore, very easy to fall into the habit of emotional eating to help cope with this tumultuous phase. This habit can extend into the postmenopausal phase – leading to worse emotions, low body image issues, weight gain, and decreased energy levels. Do not beat yourself up if you stress-eat once in a while and look up alternative ways like exercising, talking to friends, meditating, etc. to address your emotional well-being other than through food.
5. Eating Moderately And On Time
Everyone’s bodies work differently, which is why it’s such a mistake to set rules about how often menopausal and postmenopausal women ought to eat in a day. Some women do their best when they eat several small meals throughout the day, while others do better by sticking to the three balanced meals a day plan. It is important to listen to your body and see what works the best for your health. It is also equally necessary to be consistent by avoiding eating at odd hours. This way, your body has a chance to feel hungry without feeling ravenous, and then feel happily satisfied after eating. If your eating pattern allows you to experience this cycle multiple times in a day, you know you’re on the right track.