By Kristen Bunich, The Intuitive Dietitian
Have you started to notice symptoms of hormonal changes?
Skin feel more dry? Hair feel more thin? Abdomen feel more full? Are you thinking about these changes while you lay awake at night with your newfound insomnia?
Puberty and Perimenopause/menopause mark the biggest changes in a woman’s life (physical, metabolic, hormonal). The prior is celebrated with movies, books and a sense of new beginnings. The natural phase of menopause is often viewed with a sense of fear, dread and some sadness with the end of youth.
Let’s Add In some options to help with symptoms!
While it’s a normal transition, it often comes with a range of physical and emotional symptoms due to hormonal fluctuations. Nutrition plays a pivotal role in managing and alleviating these symptoms.
Common Menopause Symptoms
Before we dive into the impact of nutrition, let’s briefly review some of the most prevalent menopause symptoms:
- Hot Flashes: Sudden, intense heat sensations, often accompanied by sweating and a rapid heartbeat. The changes in body temperature may not always feel like a “flash.”
- Mood Swings: Emotional fluctuations, including irritability, anxiety, and depression. This is also an age where we have gained greater confidence in ourselves and opinions.
- Weight Change: Hormonal changes can contribute to increased fat storage, particularly around the abdomen. The average gain is typically 1-1.5 pounds per year but there could be a change in how we carry this.
- Bone Health: Decreased estrogen levels can lead to a loss of bone density and an increased risk of osteoporosis.
- Sleep Disturbances: Night sweats and insomnia are common sleep disruptors during menopause.
- Cardiovascular Health: Changes in cholesterol levels and blood pressure can raise the risk of heart disease.
Six Nutrition Tips To Help
1. Managing Hot Flashes
- Certain foods, such as spicy dishes and caffeine, may trigger hot flashes in some women. Be your own investigator; if you notice a hot flash think about these foods and seeing if limiting them helps.
- Try adding in more cooling foods like cucumbers, watermelon, and leafy greens into your diet.
2. Balancing Mood
- Omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (like salmon) and walnuts can support emotional well-being. Don’t eat fish? What about a supplement? One of my favorites is an Omega that has vitamin D. Click HERE to check it out on my Fullscript dispensary.
- Complex carbohydrates from whole grains can help stabilize mood and energy levels. Try to find fiber foods you love!
3. Weight Management
- Focus on a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains.
- Practice mindful eating to eat to a point of just fullness. Our goal is to be more in tune with hunger and fullness but conscious of the nutrients.
4. Bone Health
- Ensure an adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D through dairy products, fortified foods, and supplements if necessary.
- Regular weight-bearing exercises, such as walking or strength training, can help preserve bone density.
5. Sleep Improvement
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and create a comfortable sleep environment. I also love to add in 5 minute relaxation or calming practices.
6. Heart Health
- Opt for heart-healthy fats like those found in avocados, nuts, and olive oil.
- Reduce salt intake and include potassium-rich foods like bananas and spinach to support blood pressure regulation.
It’s essential to remember that individual experiences of menopause can vary widely, and consulting with a healthcare provider or registered dietitian can help tailor a nutrition plan that addresses specific needs and goals.
Empowering yourself with knowledge, support, and giving yourself grace with the changes can lead to a smoother and more comfortable transition into this new chapter of life.
October is Menopause Awareness Month and I have a 4-week nutrition program. It is filled with meal plans, recipes, videos, meet ups, workouts from a local trainer and the option to add on home delivery meal. Find out more HERE.
Ready to add bring some calm to the evening chaos? Try my Meal Planning E Book. This 20 page FREE Ebook has everything you need to know to start your meal planning system.
Kristen Bunich MA RD LDN. Is a registered dietitian, certified intuitive eating counselor and owner of The Intuitive Dietitian. She is passionate about rebuilding her clients relationship with food, image and self care.