Millions of women suffer with the peri-menopause and then menopause proper, often for decades, not knowing what help there is at hand. They may not even talk about it, just accepting it as their lot.
But some simple diet and lifestyle changes can bring great relief; you don’t have to take HRT: If you do go to a doctor, they may palm you off with drugs or HRT because it takes too long to explain diet and lifestyle changes. Of course, if these changes don’t help enough then an appropriate prescription can indeed help. Suffering is not an option.
So here are my top ten tips for controlling symptoms when they appear; hot flushes being the one most women despise the most. But don’t forget you are an individual and so may have a unique pattern of symptoms which you need help with. Seek out expert help from a qualified health professional, such as myself, if you need help and support through your menopause journey.
- Eat the right amount for you. You may not need to eat as much as you did when you were younger unless you are very active
- Carrying extra weight can make menopause symptoms worse; so, if you are too heavy try and cut down and you should find your symptoms ease.
- Get active-aerobic, suppleness and also 3 strength sessions a week (using weights), This will offset age related muscle loss (and hence lowering of your metabolic rate) as well as help keep menopause symptoms at bay.
- Avoid excessive amounts of saturated fats; they may encourage weight gain and increase your cholesterol level (levels of bad cholesterol tend to rise after the menopuse).
- Have a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D (which helps you absorb calcium). Calcium is found in dairy foods, tofu, green vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and fish with their bones in. As well as from sunlight, Vitamin D is found in oily fish, eggs and some fortified breakfast cereals.
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily. This is to ensure that your body gets enough disease fighting phytochemicals. Along with wholegrain starchy foods, vegetables provide the mood-regulating mineral, magnesium, which is often low in menopausal women.
- Eat at least 2 portions of oily fish a week, or take a fish oil supplement. This will provide long chain omega 3 fatty acids that can help protect your heart and other organs.
- Have some wholegrain starchy foods rich in fibre with each meal, such as brown rice, brown pasta, wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals. This will help keep your bowels regular and will provide you with a long-lasting supply of energy.
- Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine. They can be toxic to your body and will drain your energy. Alcohol and coffee may make hot flushes worse and pre-dispose you to osteoporosis, and alcohol may contribute to weight gain.
- Cut down on salt. This can lead to high blood pressure and may cause calcium to be lost from the bones, thus predisposing to osteoporosis. A high salt diet may also exacerbate bloating. To cut down on salt, reduce the amount of processed foods you eat and don’t add salt to your food.
Get further help:
The Menopause Exchange gives independent advice about the menopause, midlife and post-menopausal health. We send out a free quarterly newsletter with useful impartial help and support.
They provide information on menopausal symptoms and coping with the menopause using HRT, prescribed medicine alternatives to HRT, complementary therapies and medicines and health promotion advice including nutrition, exercise and self-help lifestyle tips.
‘Our experts have a wealth of knowledge and experience and we are always happy to help.’