Is It Warm Or Is It A Hot Flash?

September 9, 2023

If you are in the perimenopause or menopause cycle of life, the heat you are feeling may not just be the summer temperatures! Today, we’ll commiserate with you over those hot sensations and share ways you can make changes nutritionally to manage your symptoms, including hot flashes, while also keeping your body healthy as you age with grace and ease.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm Melanie Beasley, and I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian who has helped many women understand how to navigate their menopause with more ease and minimal symptoms. You may have noticed that this summer has been exceedingly warm, and I often hear women of that certain age say, “Is it just warm? Or am I having a hot flash?” I think I've said that phrase myself many times.

KARA: It's been a hot summer.

MELANIE: It's been a hot summer. And sometimes you're like, is it hot in here or is it just me? Many times it was me. So today we'll discuss some possible reasons for hot flashes or other perimenopause or menopause symptoms and what women can do nutritionally to control or to possibly eliminate their menopause symptoms. Joining me today is our cohost is Kara Carper, who is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Licensed Nutritionist. Good morning.

KARA: Good morning Melanie. Great to be here with you.

MELANIE: I think of Kara as the menopause specialist, honestly, because along with myself we filmed a six hour Menopause Seminar, which is available on the Weight and Wellness website. We had a great time.

KARA: We absolutely had a great time. I want to talk more about that later because that was about a year long process, so…

MELANIE: It was a lot of fun. And with the filming, the hope was the education of women about menopause, is that they could navigate some of those pretty pesky menopause symptoms, how to avoid them. If you have questions about today's live show and podcast, you might consider signing up for this Menopause Solution Seminar. I don't think you'll be disappointed. We cover so many things that many times we're afraid to discuss. So…

Sign Up for Menopause Solutions - Online

KARA: Yeah. The things that maybe women aren't talking about amongst themselves and their peer groups or their families, or even their doctors. Sometimes we hear that. Right?

MELANIE: If they have time to discuss in a doctor's appointment at all.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. And so we really do get to the nitty gritty. We get to all the details in the seminars.

MELANIE: We weren't afraid.

KARA: There's a lot to know and understand about how to make the most out of the perimenopausal and menopausal years. And as dietitians and nutritionists, we approach menopause symptoms through the eyes of nutrition; always nutrition first.

MELANIE: Always nutrition first. That's our gig.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. And recently a friend said to me, “Kara, what does food have to do with my hot flashes?” And I said, well, let me tell you.

MELANIE: Sit down.

KARA: More than more than you realize. How much time do you have? So let's start with the foods that seem to result in more hot flashes and maybe what you can eat to calm down or even eliminate those pesty hot flashes. And I shouldn't just say pesty, because sometimes they are very debilitating. I know you shared in the seminar you were having, well, more than 20 per day.

MELANIE: Oh yes. More than 20 per day. And there's sleep disrupting.

Statistics on menopausal women & effect on adverse work outcomes

KARA: Yes, exactly. And then that can, you know, set up failure for the whole next day if you're not sleeping well. So, well, a study by the Mayo Clinic found that 13% of women reported at least one adverse work outcome due to having a menopausal symptom, an unpleasant, menopausal symptom in the past year. So what does an adverse outcome mean? I mean, that can mean a lot of things: missed days at work, reduced hours resulting in lower pay, or possibly even being laid off or fired. Or some women had stated that they needed to leave their jobs.

MELANIE: Oh my goodness.

KARA: 'Cause They weren't able to perform. And so the Mayo Clinic study also found that menopause costs American women an estimated 1.8 billion in lost work time per year.

MELANIE: I had no idea actually. I'm glad you brought that up.

KARA: I didn't either until, you know, doing research for this show, and the Mayo Clinic study, it was the largest study of its kind ever done in the United States on the effects that menopause has on the workplace. So I found that study just very interesting. And clearly, you know, this is something that women are struggling with.

MELANIE: And I think we, we were told you just hammer through. Everybody goes through it and you just toughen up and hammer through. But that's now working for everyone.

KARA: Right. And there are solutions and you know, that's what our goal is today, right Melanie; is to give women who are struggling, or even women who maybe have not even hit perimenopause yet, just to give them, you know, some direction for when they do experience that change.

IMELANIE: t's not that we're going to circumvent going through menopause, but we certainly don't have to be absolutely miserable going through menopause. The Mayo Clinic surveyed 4,000 women, mostly Caucasian. But researchers found that menopause can have a greater effect on black and Hispanic women. This isn't the only menopause study reporting the effect that menopause has on women in the workplace. Another study found that 20% of women took time off because of menopause.

KARA: So women, yeah, kind of just picture sitting with four of your friends and based on that study, one of you had to take time off because of a menopausal symptom.

MELANIE: Yeah. One of my symptoms was migraines.

KARA: Well, and that can be very debilitating.

MELANIE: Extremely debilitating.

KARA: With those hot flashes that we were getting.

MELANIE: And I have more and more clients that say they're having anxiety, they're having depression, and you add sleeplessness on top of it, it's, it can make a, a person pretty miserable.

KARA: Exactly. And you know, the studies that we've been talking about, underscore the physical, the economic, and the social challenges women face as they age. The co-author of the Mayo Clinic study, Ekta Kapoor; hopefully I got that name correct. Ekta Kapoor said, “The topic of menopause seems to be taboo in general, but even more so in when we're talking about the workplace.” And then she went on to say, “Women don't want to bring up their discomfort with menopause because people tend to just kind of roll their eyes and view the woman as being a complainer.”

MELANIE: Yep. You want to seem like you're a competent professional person so where do you go to talk to somebody?

KARA: I think that's a big reason it's not talked about. And then people are suffering quietly through it because they don't want to be the complainer in the workplace.

MELANIE: Yeah. They just, yeah. They just mop their foreheads and, and power through. I can remember sitting in concerts for watching my children in high school, made the mistake of wearing, you know, some sort of sweater 'cause it was winter and you're wedged in there between other parents and just sweat dripping down my, my temples.

KARA: Oh, how uncomfortable.

MELANIE: So uncomfortable.

KARA: And not a way to enjoy a concert.

MELANIE: Had no idea what I know now. So well from the findings of this Mayo Clinic menopause study, menopause symptoms are a major concern and it's affecting women's productivity. So what can women do to manage symptoms? What foods lead to more hot flashes or mood swings, sleepless nights, the anxiety that we were talking about? As women, we all need more information about what we can do to not only manage our menopause symptoms, but how to keep our body healthy as we age.

KARA: Mm-Hmm.

MELANIE: Maybe for you it isn't hot flashes or dry vaginal tissue or even sleepless nights, but the blood pressure is creeping up and your cholesterol numbers are concerning. So what can you do nutritionally to manage these health issues?

KARA: I agree with Mel that most women need more information about menopause and their general health. We know that many media outlets report that since the pandemic people, especially women, are faced with more stress in the workplace, more stress at home. I mean, if we kind of rewind to 2020, there was distance learning, workplace closures, you know, all those changes, the fear around the pandemic. It was very stressful and still is to some extent. So I think women really need to prioritize their nutrition and so as so as to not get overwhelmed.


Beverages to consider avoiding to reduce menopausal symptoms

KARA: So let's kind of look at one of the first challenges: beverages, and this is a really big one when it comes to menopausal symptoms. Caffeine is a biggie that Mel and I are going to talk about. Maybe it's the morning coffee that ends up being the culprit for a mid-morning hot flash. So what can women do, Melanie, to either cut down on their caffeine, eliminate it in some cases, maybe replace it with other beverages?

MELANIE: Other beverages. I remember when I was going through this for years, I always had my cup of coffee in the morning and I would go downstairs, I'd make my cup of coffee, I would grab one of those lunch ice packs, put it in the my robe pocket, go upstairs to read. I would drink my coffee, I would hot flash, whip off the blanket and slap the ice pack on my neck. So…

KARA: So it was…

MELANIE: That was my routine.

KARA: Wow. So caffeine affected you that instantly.

MELANIE: Instantly.

KARA: Okay.

MELANIE: Once I got that first few sips of the caffeine rush, but it's time for our first break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. Today we are addressing food habits that can lead to hot flashes and night sweats. If you're experiencing hot flashes or night sweats, you may want to reduce or eliminate caffeine, sugar and alcohol. And then adding a protein at each meal with a healthy fat will help offset the frequency and the severity of those pesky flashes. We'll be right back.


Good fats vs. bad fats and impact on health

KARA: Welcome back. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. During menopause, the types of fats and oils that you used makes a very big difference in vaginal tissue health. Also in maintaining great skin, reducing wrinkles, improving hair. If you want thick, shiny hair, you know, the way to go is by consuming these natural fats and oils. I'll just give some examples: butter, avocado, olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, really any coconut products; nuts, seeds, olives.

And so when we talk about good fats and oils versus bad fats and oils, really the ones that are more inflammatory that are going to lead to more menopausal symptoms for women would be margarine. Anything like a vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil; cottonseed oil is very refined and processed. And so in all of the processed foods typically contain these refined oils.


KARA: So if you think about the freezer foods, the packaged foods, canned foods, bakery goods.

MELANIE: The more processed it is; I, you know, I had forgotten a salad dressing at work and I thought, well I'll zip into the grocery store that was nearby. I read 18 salad dressings and could not find one that didn't have soybean oil, canola oil or sunflower oil, which is actually a very processed oil. It's not what we think where it's just cold pressed.

KARA: That's another one to avoid.

MELANIE: Sunflower oil. So it, it was a battle. I ended up buying a jar of olive oil and some vinegar.

KARA: That's a tough one. I mean we could talk about that later too, but Primal Kitchen is one that I know a lot of us in the office use.

MELANIE: It's very clean.

KARA: And if it's not available at the grocery store, it's absolutely available online.


KARA: Primal Kitchen usually is an avocado oil base.

MELANIE: Yes. You can get them on Amazon 'cause of course Amazon rules the world I think.

KARA: Me too. So I guess to wrap up like healthy fats, we need these healthy fats to kind of lubricate, I like to think of it as lubricating from the inside out. Whether it's our skin, our hair, all of the tissues, including the vaginal tissues need to be hydrated from our healthy fats that we're eating.

MELANIE: So a little interesting; there's a product, Cool Whip, which we all grew up with. And I love to ask a class when I'm teaching a class, what is the one food component that is in this container? And everyone says, well is it cream? Nope. Is it this? Is it that? The only thing that's real food in that container is water.

KARA: Oh, interesting. I mean, I feel like I knew that, but it's been so long…

MELANIE: I grew up on that stuff.

KARA: …since I've looked at a Cool Whip label.

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. So get the real cream, whip it up, you're going to do a body good; and it tastes delicious.

KARA: You're talking about the heavy whipping cream in the carton.

MELANIE: The heavy organic whipping cream in the carton that our mothers used.

KARA: It's delicious too.

Strategies on cutting back on caffeine and/or balancing the blood sugar

MELANIE: Yes. Well, my grandmother used. So, well, working with my clients, we decided to try circling back to the coffee issue. We decided to try cutting their coffee from maybe two cups to one cup of regular and one cup of decaf. Or maybe just half and half, to do it slowly because I don't want them to want to poke me in the eye when they get that headache or those withdrawal symptoms.

But I just have them wean it really slowly. It takes usually about a week and to cut that coffee back. But when they slowly reduce their caffeine intake, usually there's fewer hot flashes and they sleep better. So just a little small side note, if you're going to decaffeinate and you want to go to decaffeinate a coffee, find one you love. But we recommend organic and water processed to avoid any harsh chemicals that are used in the chemical process of decaffeinated coffee. So water processed and organic. And then wean yourself slowly. I personally am such a weak link when it comes to caffeine. If I have a decaf, especially from like a coffee house that's really strong, if I have a decaf after three, there's enough caffeine in that decaf, I won't sleep well.

KARA: I wonder if listeners are aware that decaf does have a little bit of caffeine in it.

MELANIE: I don't hot flash from it. But I'll toss and turn and do that surf sleeping that makes it so miserable.

KARA: It's important to know 'cause I'm sure there are folks out there that are just as sensitive as you to caffeine. And so I wanted to also give a little tip coming from myself who I'm pretty sure is going through the change. And Melanie, I do want to share a quick story. When we were filming the Menopause Seminar, that is when my hot flashes started. And I thought to myself, there must be a reason for this. I truly think that it occurred so that I would feel more empathy towards women that are going through this. It, being under those lights and you know, it was hot. And we filmed long days. So I, anyway, it was just very interesting timing.

MELANIE: Well, you handled it beautifully. Yeah. I don't think I even knew that.

KARA: Yeah. I don't, I don't think I knew what was occurring at the time in hindsight. Oh yes. 52 years old.

MELANIE: I guess I do remember you saying, is it hot in here? I do remember you saying; yes.

KARA: So the reason that I shared that I am 53 years old and going through menopause, I am also a caffeine drinker. And so personally, what I have found is I don't necessarily need to give up caffeine, but if I get up in the morning and have a cup of coffee, even if it has the organic heavy whipping cream, I will hot flash. However, if I pair that with a breakfast that contains protein, healthy fat, maybe some eggs cooked in butter, sauté a little spinach. So I have my protein, my healthy oil and my veggie.

MELANIE: And not on an empty stomach.

KARA: It's not on an empty stomach. So the caffeine does not spike my blood sugar as much.

MELANIE: That's interesting.

KARA: And then it does not come crashing down as quickly, which biochemically is one thing that can lead to more hot flashes.

MELANIE: You know, that makes sense. You're, you're literally buffering the effect of the caffeine. So it is seeping and slower. Yeah. I wish I would've had your wisdom back in the day.

KARA: Yeah. And not everyone can handle caffeine though, even with a protein, fat, veggie meal.


KARA: So I just wanted to share my personal experience with that.

MELANIE: Yeah, that's good information.

Caffeine & sugar can increase menopausal symptoms

KARA: And when we're talking about coffee, you know, there's different kinds of coffee. The kind that I have is black coffee that I brew at home, organic, chemical free. And I put some heavy organic whipping cream in. What about the fancy coffee drinks when you go to the coffee shop? I wonder if listeners realize how those drinks affect hot flashes and how those coffee shop drinks affect sleeping at night.

MELANIE: I like to think of those, you know, the sweetened coffee drinks, they're really like a heated up milkshake. If, if you took a milk milkshake that had coffee and you heated it up, that's really what you're drinking.

KARA: It can be deceiving, especially if, if you're not reading labels looking for sugar content. But a 20-ounce salted caramel mocha contains over 500 calories. Most of those calories though, are coming from sugar. It's the equivalent of almost 20 teaspoons of sugar, a couple hundred milligrams of caffeine. You know, one regular cup of black coffee has less than a hundred milligrams of caffeine and no sugar. So there's a difference definitely from brewing your own organic at home or getting the 20 teaspoons of sugar at the coffee shop.

MELANIE: Yeah, yeah. You know, another study from the Mayo Clinic found that postmenopausal women who consumed caffeine had more hot flashes than those not drinking beverages with caffeine. So even your black tea might be triggering you. By reducing that caffeine, postmenopausal women usually have fewer hot flashes and night sweats. So think about that when you, you know, that's, that might even be your iced tea. When we were talking about coffee houses, full disclosure, one of the things I'd like to do after a radio show is I would swing in and get a decaf coconut milk latte. That was my treat on radio show mornings.

Well, I got to thinking about it. And so I started doing some research on the alternative milks and what they contained. They have sugar. Even if I didn't add sugar, I would add my own stevia. So I started asking all of the three or four coffee houses that I go to, all of the alternative milks: coffee, coconut milk, almond milk. I never used oat milk. It's just so high in carbs and processed. But yeah, they're full of sugar.

KARA: That was so wise to make that inquiry. 'Cause I don't even know that I would've thought of that, but certainly, yeah, the dairy replacements, unless they're unsweetened, which apparently they're not at the coffee shops. They're going to contain sugar.

MELANIE: So I just, now my treat is an iced black coffee.

KARA: Sure.

MELANIE: And then I put my own stevia in. But, well, it's time for our next break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. If you are having sleep problems, hot flashes, mood swings, anxiety, and just overall menopausal weight gain, let me suggest making an appointment for a nutrition therapy appointment with one of us, one of the nutritionists or the dietitians. And let us help you get back to feeling like your old self again.

So, or maybe even better than your old self. And I want to add some symptoms to the mix might be loss of libido or memory issues. It's amazing what good nutrition can do. It is like magic. So think about setting up an appointment. Check with your insurance. The appointment may be covered. I see clients at our Eagan office, and of course virtually, we'll be right back.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling


Drink sufficient water & eat healthy fats to treat or prevent menopausal symptoms

KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. I'm Kara Carper, a Licensed Nutritionist. I'm here with Melanie Beasley, Licensed Dietitian. And we're talking about hot flashes, night sweats, menopausal symptoms and how women can reduce those by using the right nutrition. You know, a lot of clients complain about dry, brittle, maybe coarse hair. So what is going to help with that issue? Well, of course we know to drink water. I mean, ideally half of half of your weight in ounces. So take however many pounds you weigh, divide by two, and strive for that many ounces per day.

So we know about water, but also fats and oils and essential fatty acids can be very helpful for tissues and hair and nails. So the essential fatty acid, it's called GLA, gamma linolenic acid. That is helpful for dry skin, dry hair, nails. And then there's the essential fatty acid called DHA. And that's helpful for anyone struggling with dry eye. So, you know, we always say, start with food, start with your nutrition first. And that looks like including at least a tablespoon of natural fat or oil or the equivalent of a tablespoon with every meal and snack. Maybe you like pumpkin seeds. Maybe you like walnuts, avocados. Avocados would be, you know, half of an avocado is a serving, a tablespoon of olive oil or coconut oil. Those are all, again, hydrating from the inside out.

Why does sugar and caffeine increase hot flashes?

MELANIE: Yeah. That's really good information. So I still want to talk a little bit about the coffeehouse drinks, because they're so popular. Well, a 20-ounce salted caramel coffee drink has a little over 18 teaspoons of sugar. So how does sugar cause hot flashes and night sweats? Sugar in any form, especially high fructose corn syrup found in the specialty coffee drinks, affects your glucose levels naturally before menopause. But after menopause with a decrease in estrogen and progesterone, the effect is more pronounced. And this liquid sugar can cause blood sugar levels to swing high and swing low. And these highs and lows of blood glucose can cause hot flashes and sweating.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. And when you shared at the beginning of the show how you would have, it was just a caffeinated beverage in general.

MELANIE: Caffeinated beverage.

KARA: And then you would start sweating immediately.

MELANIE: Hot flash.

KARA: Right. Right. And so there's really a direct connection between caffeine and blood sugar spiking and crashing.


KARA: And increased hot flashes or night sweats.

MELANIE: Right. So when you add the caffeine and the sugar together, it's a, it's a double whammy.

KARA: It's a double whammy for sure.

MELANIE: That's, that's the clinical term.

KARA: And you know, there's a great article on our website. It's called “Hormone, Hot Flashes and Holiday Fare”. And that is from, it's dated December 21st, 2021. And in our Menopause Solutions Seminar, we describe the connection between sugar and hot flashes with a little bit of humor. So this is, I think this is good though. People will remember this. Every time you consume one teaspoon of sugar, that's one more hot flash. So if you want to eliminate hot flashes, if you want to eliminate one hot flash per day, reduce your sugar by one teaspoon per day. One teaspoon of sugar equals one hot flash.

MELANIE: Yes. So if you're hot flashing four or five times, you want to look and see how much sugar you're consuming.

KARA: Where's the sugar sneaking in? And the coffee shop is just one example. Sugar can be very sneaky.

MELANIE: Or even the coconut milk with your unsweetened coffee drink. Right?

KARA: Yeah. Yeah. So it's important to read labels, look for added sugar, look for total carbohydrate contents too.

MELANIE: That’s good.

KARA: Some of our long-term listeners may know this equation. 24 grams of carbohydrates on a label, that's six teaspoons of sugar.

MELANIE: And how'd you get there?

KARA: I took the total carbohydrates and I divided by four.

MELANIE: So if you take the total carbohydrates, listeners, you divide it by four, that's how many teaspoons of sugar impact you're getting in your bloodstream. So you don't need to look at added sugars, blah, blah, blah. Look at total carbohydrates. So think of if you're having breakfast cereal, look at the box. What's the total carbohydrate per serving? Divide that by four. That's how many teaspoons of sugar you're getting before you even add sugar to the cereal.

KARA: And that's an example of, you know, a breakfast that would create higher blood sugars leading to that crash.


KARA: Which would lead to more hot flashes for most women.

Alcohol can increase menopausal symptoms

MELANIE: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Well, as long as we're talking about beverages that are linked to hot flashes, let's talk about wine. How does one or two glasses of wine lead to hot flashing or night sweats? Again, let's look at what the Mayo Clinic says about menopause and alcohol. Dr. Juliana Kling of Mayo Clinic Health Center in Arizona says that alcohol during menopause can worsen symptoms and increase a woman's risk for serious health problems like heart disease and osteoporosis. Also, Dr. Kling says that alcohol can make it harder to get a good night's sleep. While many people believe a glass of wine might help to make them sleepy, alcohol disrupts the quality of the sleep. In addition, alcohol is associated with a higher risk of breast cancer. Think about that. What are your priorities? And then you get to make the decision.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. Mm-Hmm. And the reason that we're talking so much about beverages, caffeinated beverages and beverages containing alcohol is because those really are two of the biggest culprits when it comes to hot flashes, night sweats, and other menopausal symptoms as well. We haven't talked a lot about weight gain.


KARA: But certainly alcohol can lead to more weight gain, especially during menopause.

MELANIE: And sugar.

KARA: And sugar. Yeah. So those are really the three biggies: caffeine, alcohol and high sugar or high carbohydrate foods as well.

MELANIE: And when we focus on eating real foods, they're naturally no sugar added. They're naturally no caffeine, right? They naturally are balanced.

KARA: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. It's more of the processed foods that are going to contain, you know, either the caffeine, the sugar, the bad fats, things like that.

MELANIE: Yeah. There's a popular beverage right now that someone asked me to look at the label. They said it's like a, has energy. It's sweetened with stevia, perhaps with “natural energy”. And when I read it, yes it's sweetened with stevia, but it's loaded with caffeine.

KARA: Oh yeah. They're advertising one positive thing about the beverage, but then there's all the caffeine in it.

MELANIE: All the caffeine, yeah. And it was natural because it was what from coffee bean. It just said coffee bean.

KARA: Sure.

MELANIE: So yeah, that's natural, but…

KARA: So important to, again, read the labels, look at the nutrition facts, look at the ingredients.

MELANIE: Ingredients is key, really.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: Right there.

KARA: Yes, exactly. I wanted to share something. My mother-in-law, Cheryl, she has given permission for me to share this story, but she struggles with hot flashes and night sweats.


KARA: And I, you know, when, whenever we get together for dinner, it's the discussion wine or no wine. Nine times out of 10 she is saying, “No thank you because I want to sleep tonight.”

MELANIE: Oh yeah.

KARA: It's a direct connection. And so I bet a lot of other women can relate to that too.

MELANIE: So you get that initial sedate of effect of wine that's relaxing, but unfortunately it prevents you from getting into the deep REM sleep that gives us restoration. And that's when our bodies heal. So we just don't sleep well. We don't deep dive into the, the restorative sleep when we have alcohol.

KARA: And also people may be more likely to wake up in the early morning hours or maybe two or three in the morning.

MELANIE: 'Cause they're hot, they're hot flashing.

KARA: They're hot. And what happens is the blood sugar spikes from the wine and then middle of the night you're trying to sleep, it crashes. So you not only wake up sweating, but you have a hard time falling back to sleep.

MELANIE: Because your jammies are wet and your bed clothes are wet.

MELANIE: Yes. And a lot of my clients have to get up and completely change outfits. And that's going to wake you up.

KARA: It is. You have to turn the lights on usually, rummage through your closet, maybe even change the sheets.


KARA: That hasn't happened to me, but I've heard of women needing to change the bedsheets.


MELANIE: Yeah. It's miserable. It has happened to me. Thank goodness those days are gone. I want to bring up a client story. I have a client. She loves me now because this poor woman was waking up drenched. She not only had to change her pajamas and bed clothes once, but twice a night minimum, because she would wake up drenched. And really, when we looked at what she was eating, it really wasn't that bad. But she was overeating fruit and caffeine. She was eating real food, but she was really overeating a lot of fruit. And the natural fruit from the sugar was just too much. I mean, it's really hard to eat a half a cup of watermelon. So when we cut it back, she did so much better. It was a silly little change, but it made a big impact.

So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. I have a passion to help women with their bone health and avoiding osteoporosis, which can escalate after menopause. If you are concerned about your bone health, please give us a call and we can help you offset the impact of menopause on bones. Our number is 651-699-3438. Or you can email us at We'll be right back.

Schedule Nutrition Counseling


KARA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Today I'm here with Melanie. My name is Kara. We're talking about hot flashes, night sweats, uncomfortable menopausal symptoms. Menopause can be complex for many women, but we believe we have some wonderful nutritional solutions. You know, sometimes it's hard for people to make the connection that food and nutrition have such a large impact on our health. But here at Dishing Up Nutrition, Darlene, the owner and all of her employees have been sharing really valuable and, you know, free information for 20 years now. So just consider sharing the podcast.

Natural progesterone cream & how it can help with menopausal symptoms

So Melanie, we have not talked about hormones very much yet, but I kind of wanted to share my own experience with something called a natural progesterone cream.

MELANIE: I was hoping you would. Yep. Yep.

KARA: And I will say that the very first time that I used progesterone cream was postpartum and I was experiencing postpartum depression. And I got on the phone with Darlene, our fearless leader.

MELANIE: Dar Kvist.

KARA: I was crying because I was all out of sorts and I'd had a kind of traumatic birthing experience. And she said, “Kara, are you using progesterone cream?” And I said, no. So she had the front desk ship a tube to me.

MELANIE: That's fantastic.

KARA: It was a game changer, a game changer for my moods. And that's when I realized…

MELANIE: And you're talking about the natural progesterone cream.

KARA: I'm talking about the natural, the natural progesterone cream from yams over the counter.


KARA: I like the brand Emerita Pro-Gest. It's 20 milligrams. I believe it's a teaspoon equals 20 milligrams, which is really the amount of progesterone that the ovaries would be producing. Of course like postpartum, hormones are up and down and progesterone really drops post pregnancy. So we're not really here to talk about that today, but that was my first experience using it. And then fast forward to me going through menopause and hot flashing and night sweating. And that has been a game changer now.


KARA: Current day.

MELANIE: You, you remembered.

KARA: I did remember. I did remember. But it's a calming hormone. And one thing, Melanie, and we talked about this in our survival seminar, in those in the recorded series, a lot of women think to themselves, I must just be low in estrogen.

MELANIE: When actually what happens after we stop menstruation, progesterone plummets. And when progesterone plummets, our bodies have a reaction to this hormonal change. So this simple act of adding in that natural yam progesterone cream on thin skin, maybe morning and night, helps to restore balance. Whereas a lot of times what we think is we need to add more estrogen. And in fact, that creates a bigger imbalance of too much estrogen. And we all know the risk of too much estrogen can lead to certain cancer risks. And so I encourage my clients, let's try the natural route first. And that progesterone cream, like you said, can be very calming, which we all need. It helps with sleep, which I love personally. I use it for sleep. It's great for bone health. So you know, when we, the progesterone drops, we can lose bones and of course it helps with the hot flashes, which that was your experience, right?

KARA: Yeah. And I'm still, I still use it regularly to this day. And when I run out of my tube, I do notice a difference.


KARA: I notice, you know, I don't have terrible hot flashes, but I do notice them coming back if I'm not using it one or two times per day just on a regular basis.

MELANIE: Yes. And it helps me sleep, which for me being a recovering insomniac, I love that it helps me sleep.

KARA: Yeah. Again, it's that calming hormone.

MELANIE: And some people it doesn't work. Right? It's not, every individual is different.

KARA: Yes.

MELANIE: And that's sometimes you need that guided assistance to say, well, let's try this. That didn't work, but we have other options. There are always other options. There's a lot. But, but it's figuring out the fabric of each individual, how they're put together and what's going to work for them. But there always are solutions, but starting with that food first and making sure that blood sugar is balanced, that is key. Sometimes that's all you need.

KARA: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. I, you know, and I wouldn't even recommend starting with the progesterone cream, you know, of course I was already, I had already reduced caffeine.

MELANIE: You knew it.

KARA: And I had paired my, I had paired my caffeine with a protein, healthy fat, veggie carb. I was eating regularly throughout the day to keep my glucose, my blood sugar levels balanced, eating regular breakfast, lunch, dinner, one to two snacks.

MELANIE: Yes. And when you're saying carb, you're talking about vegetable carbohydrates.

KARA: Vegetables predominantly.

MELANIE: Because that's fiber really helps us with the blood sugar balance.

KARA: Yeah. Yeah. And it's going to prevent the, the high spike in the crash. Which usually is what leads to more hot flashes.

MELANIE: And anxiety.

KARA: Yes. And that's another thing.

MELANIE: We’re hot and anxious when our blood sugar drops.

KARA: So I had already used all of the nutritional tools, so for me, progesterone was something that I added on just to even decrease hot flashes further.


Start with blood sugar balance & cutting back on caffeine & alcohol

KARA: But we encourage listeners, you know, start with that food first and balancing blood sugar approach.

MELANIE: And the caffeine.

KARA: Look at caffeine intake, look at alcohol intake, and definitely start reading labels, looking at total carbohydrates and looking at how much sugar is in a lot of the beverages. And for many women, like you said, that is going to take care of the issue.

MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. That it, the simple solutions.

KARA: Yeah.

Food and recipe ideas

MELANIE: …that are within our grasp. We just didn't know. So if you are looking to, what are some recipes? What are we talking about when we are talking about balanced nutrition? I highly recommend you can go to our website. We also have a cookbook and we are so aware of this balance of animal protein, healthy carbohydrates, and the mostly vegetables and those healthy fats that Dar Kvist put together a beautiful cookbook. It's been updated, it's beautiful. There are colors and there's success stories in there. That's one avenue of some great recipes. One of my favorites is the Thai Chicken Curry. And what I love about in the cookbook is it has all the components, but at the bottom it says “to balance this recipe”, which means to get all the components in to balance your blood sugar, it'll have suggestions.

Check Out the Weight and Wellness Cookbook and Nutrition Guide

And it also has suggestions on how to make something gluten-free and dairy free. So our website is also a lot of great free recipes on there. They're not necessarily told to balance suggestions like it is in the cookbook, but I think we're pretty smart listeners out there, that we can figure out does this have vegetables or if I'm just picking pancakes, I probably need to add some sausage and, and maybe some stir fried veggies in there.

KARA: Mm-Hmm.

MELANIE: But we've got some beautiful recipes. There's one, which right now it's warm weather, but as we head into fall, it is the pot pie chicken pot pie soup.

KARA: I have not made that one yet.

MELANIE: Just delicious. And you can kind of switch out some of the veggies. Let's say you don't love broccoli and maybe you substitute something else in there. But it's great. It does taste like pot pie. It's very comfort food.

We also have great cooking classes when you're just stumped about how to cook and, and pull a meal together. Chef Marianne has got some great cooking classes. They're very reasonably priced. And you get that video. So if you watch it and then you want to make it, you can watch the video again as you're putting it together the…

KARA: The video is sent.

MELANIE: It's sent to you.

KARA: Yeah. And you, I think you have access, I think it's three days. And you get the recipes, of course. But that's a great avenue. And that's a fun way to start transitioning into balanced eating.


KARA: It's like you don't even have to go to a cooking demo. It comes to you.

MELANIE: In your jammies.

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: You can learn in your jammies.

KARA: In your own time. Exactly.

MELANIE: I love that so much.

Sign Up for a Cooking Class

KARA: Also, we have a lot of great smoothies on our website. And the reason I wanted to highlight that, for maybe folks who aren't breakfast eaters and feeling a little rushed in the morning, you know, not all smoothies are balanced, but the ones on our website are. They do contain a good protein powder. You know, a little bit of fruit. You can add I always encourage, add some veggies and a healthy fat, and voila. You have your breakfast within about 15 minutes.

MELANIE: Yes. Remember I was telling you about my client with the night sweats?

KARA: Yes.

MELANIE: That was one of the things that she was doing was she was getting these recipes off the web. She had like a banana, she had like frozen mango in there and she had strawberries and so it was so high in fruit sugar. It tastes delicious, I'm sure. But it was so high in fruit sugar that immediately, as soon as she was done, I would say within 30 minutes she would hot flash.

KARA: Oh. Just too much fruit. Too many, too much carbohydrates. Now, just to clarify, that was not from our website.


KARA: That was just something she found.

MELANIE: Yeah she did a Google on healthy…

KARA: Yeah.

MELANIE: Which it sounds healthy 'cause it was all real food like I said. She, she knew about eating real food, organic food. It was just that tweaking the balance.

KARA: Yeah. And some, some folks are more sensitive to fruit sugars.

MELANIE: So really the next time you're asking yourself, listeners, is it warm in here or is it just me? And everyone else is saying, no I'm comfortable, no, I'm comfortable, this might be a podcast to re-listen.

KARA: Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for listening and have a wonderful day.

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