Can diet really improve or worsen the symptoms of menopause? It would definitely appear to be the case. Extreme fatigue is a very real problem for many of us during the menopause, so a diet that maintains steady blood sugar levels instead of the peaks and troughs caused by caffeine, sugar and processed foods will naturally help us feel less tired and irritable. Whole foods, plenty of vegetables, nuts and grains such as porridge and brown rice may be beneficially incorporated into your diet. Cinnamon is another good blood sugar leveller and I’ll often sprinkle a teaspoon of the powder onto my morning porridge which I believe makes a difference.
Omega 3 oils have been demonstrated to improve both mood and memory and are a very good addition to your diet at this time. Importantly they’ve also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. These can be found in seafood and oily fish such as salmon and sardines. Vegan and vegetarian options include walnuts, flax seed oil and spirulina.
It seems inevitable that we will gain some weight around menopause. Hormonal changes, decreased insulin sensitivity, loss of muscle mass, lack of restful sleep, stress and decreased physical activity due to tiredness or aching joints and muscles are all factors. But don’t despair! I don’t advocate low fat diets as they cause more harm than good in my opinion, instead aim to keep those blood sugar levels steady which will reduce cravings, decrease portion sizes if necessary and practice eating mindfully – that is focus on what you’re eating and when you’re eating it. Lastly, don’t beat yourself up if you fall off the wagon sometimes and succumb to junk food and alcohol, this is a time to be gentle on yourself!