I have been perimenopausal for a good 6 or 7 years now, if not more. However, it is only in the last 2 or 3 years that I have realised a lot of my symptoms were down to the menopause and been officially diagnosed by my GP. As well as medication such as HRT, it is advised that women exercise and look at their perimenopause diet. Removing certain things from our diet can help naturally reduce symptoms.
So what should we look to cut from our diet and why. Here are the top 5 things you should remove (or cut down) from your diet.
Caffeine can disrupt your sleep and hormone levels. It has also been linked to an increase hot flushes. Furthermore having more than two cups of coffee a day can affect calcium absorption and is shown to weaken bones.
Try to replace with herbal tea, decaffeinated tea or coffee, and caffeine free drinks. Although be warned it is worth cutting down gradually as you can experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. If you are feeling tired then why not try a brisk 10 minute walk to waken up.
Alcohol affects our bodies dramatically during menopause. Not only can it exacerbate hot flushes and night sweats. It can also disrupt sleep, increase mood swings; and even contribute to depression if drinking heavily.
If like me you’ll struggle to omit completely from your diet, then stick to NHS guidelines and try to have at least 3 drink free nights a week. Or check out some non-alcoholic wines and spirits out there, there are some great alternatives available now.
Processed sugar is sugar not occurring naturally in foods such as fruit; but rather sugar added to foods and drinks. It can raise your blood sugar levels, which can lead to more intense/frequent hot flushes, night sweats and even brain fog.
With the food industry deciding not to play ball, you may find it tricky to track just how much sugar you are consuming. There are over 60 different names for sugar on product labels!
Starchy ‘fast release’ carbs like white pasta, white bread, mashed potatoes, chips, cake and biscuits should be cut out. Not only can they lead to blood sugar spikes, triggering hot flushes; but they can actually lead you to enter the menopause earlier.
Instead, switch to ‘slow release’ carbohydrates, such as wholegrains, root vegetables and oats, instead.
Sausage Rolls. Crisps. Breakfast Cereals. Ready Meals. What do all these foods have in common? They are all processed foods, which are defined as ‘Formulations made mostly or entirely from substances derived from foods and additives, with little if any intact unprocessed food.’
Look for a reduction in symptoms such as inflammation, bloating, weight gain and fatigue. These can all intensify thanks to the unhealthy levels of sugar and sodium found in most processed foods.
So how is it going…
I have worked really hard over the past year or so to cut the above from my diet.
Caffeine was difficult for me, as I was used to coffee all morning and diet coke all afternoon. I also did the wrong thing and went cold turkey on the caffeine, cue awful headaches for several days, but now I can honestly say I don’t miss it at all. Herbal teas and cold infusions for my water are the order of the day.
Refined carbs, sugar and processed foods were easier as my allergies and intolerances meant I already had cut right down. My nemesis was always the cheeky takeaway or easy meals with the kids. I have really tried hard these past six months to cut those out too and it has made a huge difference.
As said, Alcohol was my big issue. I don’t really have any vices bar a nice glass of wine or G&T on an evening. So I really was not for cutting down on this, however I do notice a big difference on my sleep, night sweats and weight when I cut down. So I am where possible following the rule above and trying to have at least 3 nights of no drinking a week. Wish me luck…
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