The time has come to be honest. Yes, we all avoid admitting we’re coming up on, or going through menopause. We try to fool ourselves into thinking that we’re not old enough for that yet. I personally love sayings like, “You’re young at heart” or “You’re only as young as you feel”. They sound terrific and they’re very appealing in and of themselves. Of course the ego wants to think those minor facial wrinkles are hardly visible and that the physical appearance is as it was when we were in our early twenties.
Well, that’s an outright lie! Neither the inside nor the outside is as it was then, or even as it was yesterday. To be brutally honest, it’s about the time a woman experiences the onset of menopause that she begins thinking that it’s the inside that matters more than the outside. I’ve not quite figured out just yet if that’s her way of appeasing her self-worth, or if it just happens to coincide with true wisdom. Regardless, it happens…and your diet during menopause can be vitally important reaching the other side of these changes in a better place than you started.
Is your mind playing “Back to the Future”?
Test yourself. Go to your 30th or 35th class reunion. If you notice that everyone else has aged, but you haven’t, at least in your own mind, you just failed the test. Believe me. Every other woman attending is taking the same test and failing. Keep in mind that most everyone is also wearing glasses because of failing eyesight at this age. Is it any wonder people look better from across the room than in front of the mirror?
I once enjoyed a gentleman’s comment about the women at his 35 year class reunion. He said that if he could repeat the event, he’d decline to attend. When asked why, he replied, “Are you kidding?! Half the women there are fanning themselves with their programs because their too hot, and the other half are complaining their too cold. Then they sit there with a scowls on their faces, or they look 20 years older than they are and dress like their 30 years younger than they should! Have you ever seen bread dough that’s left in the pan to rise too long?” Enough said.
I’ve been to my 30 year and 35 year class reunions and I’m afraid much of what this gentleman had to say was the truth. I’m just grateful I heard that before I attended so I knew what NOT to do.
Recognize the need to “change for the change”
So where does this leave us? Girls, we need to make some changes. There’s nothing like an outspoken middle-aged gentleman to put things in perspective.
Whether we age with grace, or fight it every step of the way, the fact is we are aging and it is inevitable. However, how we go through the process is a choice. Going through menopause is just as inevitable, but how we travel that road is also a choice. We can choose to glide through it like a swan on a lake, or fight it like a bass on a line.
Now and again you’ll hear one of those old sayings you heard growing up repeated again and again. Have you ever wondered why they keep popping up? The answer is obvious. They’re true! So you’ll understand when I say that when it comes to diet during menopause, “You really are what you eat.”
Diet During Menopause – Do’s and Don’ts
If you fill your body with fats, carbohydrates, and nonessential things that your body won’t use other than to line the inside of your skin with heat saving blubber, you can expect to look like a walrus. If on the other hand you pay attention to what passes through your lips, you’ll certainly look and feel much better. When all systems are “go”, of course you’ll have more energy to do the things you love most, which will only compliment your optimistic attitude and vitality. So here are a few tips that can benefit you long term, not just for the moment.
For the thyroid and breasts…
Eat foods that contain high levels of Vitamin E. This wonderful nutrient helps with your thyroid function and can even reduce the frequency and size of cysts that might form in your breasts. Foods with high sources of Vitamin E are fish (especially mackerel or haddock), liver or lamb, brown rice, kale, asparagus, cucumbers, and safflower or sesame oils. Mangoes are also a very good source to include in your diet during menopause. As a responsible precaution, do discuss increasing Vitamin E in your diet with your doctor first if you experience rheumatic heart disease or high blood pressure.
Avoiding urinary tract infections…
If on the other hand, you often experience frequent urinary tract infections, Vitamin C is very effective for relief. By taking Echinacea, drinking lots of cranberry juice, and water, and including Vitamin C food sources in your diet, you’re well on your way to alleviating the problem or heading off another bout. Vitamin C can be readily found in salmon, liver, asparagus, parsley, tomatoes, kale, cabbage, broccoli, and fruits.
Making your body “cooperate” with a drop in estrogen…
If you’d like your body to “think” you’re replacing that lacking estrogen for relief from those hot flashes, you can use your diet during menopause to try Black Cohosh supplements. Both tea and Black Cohosh are good sources of “copycat” estrogen and can relieve the anxiety and touchiness, leaving you with a more relaxed and calm demeanor. Most health food stores carry both.
Vitamin B-Complex can also be found in most health food stores and is vital in allowing your body to correctly perform the metabolic functions. It will help keep your energy up and reduce fatigue, and can even help with that irritability factor. Wheat germ is the highest known source of Vitamin B-Complex.
Another good estrogen replacement food to help reduce hot flashes and mood swings is bioflavonoids. Stop throwing away those peelings from your citrus fruits. The white part of the inside of the rind is excellent for bioflavonoid intake! If you don’t want to eat it outright, add it to your fruit in the blender. It’s a great early morning start or late nightcap. Who knew?
You can also regulate those rollercoaster hormones and moodiness by adding flaxseed, salmon, tuna, mackerel, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower, safflower, or sesame oils. Each of these foods contains the essential fatty acids; Omega 3 and Omega 6.
Keeping your bones strong…
I’m sure you’ve heard the warnings about osteoporosis in the later years. Start drinking milk instead of coffee. The benefits are two-fold because milk is full of calcium for strong bones, and it aids in absorbing the calcium. Other dairy products like butter, cheese and cottage cheese are also good sources. If you’d like to include fresh dark green leafy vegetables, fish, seeds, nuts and whole-grain cereals, you’d definitely be doing yourself a favor.
Speaking of those dark green leafy vegetables; keep in mind that it says “fresh”. Too often we buy those wonderful bags of romaine intending to eat them as a salad later. By the time we work up the nerve to actually begin eating healthy, the once “fresh” greens have now turned brown and slimy and unfit for even the most cast iron stomach. Over time, the nutrients that are in the bag will break down and won’t do anyone any good. So … if you buy it, eat it!
If it’s not good for you going in, than it should be OUT!
So what’s the bottom line? Include a variety of foods in your diet during menopause that will actually do something good for your body. These will also include grains like barley, corn, and oatmeal; nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and pecans; and the highly coveted canola and olive oils. All kinds of fish and poultry can be greatly beneficial. Just leave the deep-fried battered varieties in the store. Then too, if you’re really brave, add soy-enriched products, soy milk, and the ever-beloved tofu.
One final note: During menopause, along with all this wonderful good news about the help you can gain from the foods you eat, there is also a little bad news. If you want to defeat the purpose of the foods I’ve mentioned, or you don’t mind exacerbating your menopausal symptoms, you probably won’t want to read the short list of foods to avoid.
However, if you’re a woman who is more interested in being a gliding swan rather than a fighting bass, let me just finish by stating you won’t want to eat or drink high-fat dairy products, sugar, salt, processed foods, fats, alcohol, or caffeine.
Remember; you’re the one who decides if the road of grace is the path you want to take. If you aren’t quite sure, think about your next class reunion. It might be just the incentive you need to choose correctly.