Don’t Let Menopause Get The Best Of You!
By Nutritional Weight & Wellness Staff
March 14, 2023
Now that you are in menopause, do you find that you’ve had a personality change? Are you easily irritated, feeling uptight and having mood swings? You may have seen your doctor for relief from anxiety or depression, but you don’t want to be on one more medication.
Natural Alternatives To Hormone Replacement Therapy
In the past, many women sought relief from these menopause symptoms and started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) or estrogen replacement therapy (ERT). Sometimes hormone replacement therapy provided short term relief, but for some women it created long term health issues. In 2002, the Women’s Health Initiative research discovered that estrogen therapy increased the risk of breast cancer, stroke, blood clots, and heart attacks. While there have been more reviews and research on this study since then, the general consensus seems to show that it’s a very individual issue, depending on age, how estrogen dominant a person already is, and how much risk of cancer they have in their genetics.
Many women come to Nutritional Weight & Wellness desperate for relief from the emotional turmoil and the physical symptoms that can occur during the menopause years. Our nutritionists help women turn these challenging years into more positive, stress-free years by changing their diets to real foods, and we can help you, too. In this article, we’ll cover some tips you can incorporate today to help relieve bothersome symptoms.
Coffee drinks (mochas, lattes, etc.) and alcohol increase your blood sugar and are dehydrating. For a woman going through menopause, this can be a big problem. Dehydration also causes fatigue, headaches, constipation, and can increase wrinkles, too. Not to mention, coffee and alcohol often cause more hot flashes.
At Nutritional Weight & Wellness, we recommend drinking 8-10 glasses of water each day or half of your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weigh 180 lb., drink 90 oz. of water each day. You will absorb more of the water you’re drinking by spreading it out throughout the day, instead of drinking large amounts a few times a day. This will help to prevent frequent urination. If your bladder tends to wake you up at night, consider limiting your fluids before bedtime. If that sounds like a lot of water to you, start slow and add in more over time as your body adjust to your new habit.
Foods That Increase Anxiety During Menopause
Many of us turn to sugar and processed carbohydrates, such as muffins, chips, pasta and brownies, when we are anxious and stressed. However, sugar and processed carbohydrates are major contributors to anxiety and sleeplessness. Excess sugar also leads to insomnia, mood swings, hot flashes and night sweats, and weight gain. For less anxiety and better moods, practice decreasing the amount of processed carbohydrates and added sugars you are consuming.
Eating In Balance
To balance your blood sugar, balance each meal and snack by including a quality protein, healthy fats, and nutrient-dense carbohydrates such as:
- Protein: steak, eggs, chicken and salmon
- Fats: olives, olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, nuts and butter
- Carbohydrates: choose primarily vegetables and small amounts of fruit or whole grains
Don’t Let Holidays Or Weekends Sabotage Your Efforts
With many of our clients—not just those going through menopause— we hear that holidays and social situations can be a challenge. When you are at a social event, pay close attention to the effect alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods, and additives (such as MSG) have on your mood, anxiety, sleep, and your body temperature. All of these foods can increase unpleasant and emotionally-draining menopause symptoms. For example, I have noticed that when I have a glass of wine, a late dinner, or eat chocolate or sugar that I am much more anxious and more likely to have a sleepless night. Which foods and drinks trigger your menopause symptoms? See if you can start linking the connection between what you eat and how it makes your body feel. Keeping a food journal for a few days can help with this awareness!
Stay Mentally Sharp With Healthy Sleep Tips
Many menopausal women we work with complain of insomnia or restless sleep. Is this an issue of you? Sleeping less than 6.5 hours sets you up for a slurry of menopause symptoms because it decreases your overall brain function and your ability to fight stress. It also drives your blood pressure up, creates low grade inflammation, and makes it harder to regulate your blood sugar. For better moods and less anxiety:
- Plan for 8-9 hours of sleep (set a bedtime for yourself)
- Follow a regular sleep schedule
- Eliminate sugar from your diet and follow a balanced eating plan
- Eliminate caffeine from your diet
- Eat a balanced bedtime snack (such as berries and cream or ½ apple with nut butter)
- Since blue light interferes with your sleep, turn off the TV, computer, and cell phone at least one hour before you go to bed if you can (this is a hard one for most folks!). Dimming the lights in your home is also helpful to get your body prepared for sleep.
As a result of poor sleep, the sugar cravings increase, and the possibility of weight gain in menopause is even greater. Sleep is a tricky issue and we have many resources to help you problem-solve getting a good night’s sleep.
Respect Your Body’s Changes
Yes, your metabolism does slow down a little when going through the menopause transition. Allow yourself to feel all the feels that come up with this change. Show yourself care and love. If you want to lose weight, start a healthy, balanced eating plan. Remember, balancing your blood sugar is so important for reducing or eliminating menopause symptoms, but also for losing weight and it is possible to change body composition. The Nutrition 4 Weight Loss Program is a great way to learn an eating plan that will keep your blood sugar balanced and help you lose weight at a healthy pace. Be patient! Remember, the faster you lose weight, the faster you can gain it back!
Exercise as you are able. Start with a 30-minute walk three times a week and build up to include strength training and flexibility exercises.
Get Support For Your Hormones
There is a lot you can do to make the menopause years happy and healthy! Remember that menopause is due to the hormonal changes that happen in your body as you age. Following these above lifestyle tips can support you as you navigate the transition of hormones in your body and, when you’re ready to go a layer deeper, our dietitians and nutritionists can guide you through nutrition and supplementation to find more balance with your hormones.
Focusing on hydration, eating real foods in balance (protein, fat, carb!) at meals and snacks, decreasing sugar and processed carbs, striving for quality sleep, incorporating exercise, and being mindful on weekends will give you a solid foundation for better energy, even moods, and a sense of well-being.
For additional help with your menopause symptoms…
- Book a one-on-one consultation with a nutritionist or dietitian: we will help you individualize a plan specific to your needs, lifestyle, and symptoms. We are the experts in helping you with anxiety, balancing blood sugar, lifting your moods, and balancing hormones.
- Take the Online Menopause Solutions Seminar: you will receive six 1-hour recorded videos full of content on every menopause symptom you can imagine. Join a private Facebook group to get your questions answered by our nutritionists and dietitians plus get ideas from fellow women in the group. You’ll also receive a robust 79-page E-Guide with recipes, meal planning tools, symptoms tracker, articles, and more.
For more information on menopause, check out these resources: