There is increasing evidence that what we put into our bodies plays as big a role in the presence or absence of disease than just about anything else we do. A healthy, balanced diet is known to increase your protection against some diseases such as heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
This post outlines some healthy habits to get into with regard to your diet.
You’ll read a lot about different diets that can help with menopause and I’m not going into that here. Whilst I’ve done every faddy diet known to man over the years, what I’ve eventually found is that just eating everything in moderation and keeping some balance is the key. So, this post is about healthy eating in general which is helpful at any point in life but more so during and after menopause when you become more at risk for things like osteoporosis, heart disease and stroke.
During menopause, you take a hammering. whether it’s physical or mental symptoms, a lot of us turn to comfort eating to help us feel better. Comfort eating is known in wellbeing/medical circles as emotional eating.
This is a common strategy that many of us employ but it often leaves us feeling worse. (You can find out more about emotional eating in this post). I really wish I was one of those people who go off their food when they’re having a stressful time but no. I’m first to reach for the Pringles and the chocolate ☹️
Regular emotional eating isn’t the best coping strategy but one that many of us use to deal with stress, pain, fear, and loneliness and use food almost like a drug to deal with them. It’s so easy to get stuck in the vicious cycle of binging when your problems or symptoms become too overwhelming.
⚖️ watch portion sizes
Educate yourself on what a standard portion size is for the foods you eat. For example, a portion of steak is the size of the palm of your hand and 2 plums is 1 portion.
🥗 Make your meals colourful
Recognise the value of colourful fruits and vegetables, especially orange, green and yellow fruits and vegetables. Each offers unique health benefits and many colourful foods contain helpful antioxidants which scavenge for unhealthy oxygen free radicals in the body.
⏰ take your time
There is about a 20-minute lag time between the time you fill your stomach and your brain signals that your body has had enough food. If you eat slowly and mindfully, you can avoid symptoms of indigestion, and weight gain. Try having a mouthful of water between every few forkfuls as this will slow you down. It also has the added bonus of being another glass of water you’ve drunk that day!
🥜 recognise the value of snackS
Your energy levels can be impacted by the highs and lows of your blood sugar over the course of the day. Eating regularly can help avoid this. When you incorporate snacks into your diet, you avoid having too many highs and lows and have more consistent levels of energy throughout the day. This can help with focus, concentration and brain fog. Try things like dried fruit and nuts or a piece of fruit like a banana.
🍽 don’t eat large evening meals
It’s far better to have your bigger meal at lunch than it is to eat a large meal at 7 pm not long before you go to bed. This allows your body a chance to metabolise a large meal and avoids the trap of eating too much before sleeping—something that can lead to insomnia and acid indigestion. This is something the French have right. Lots of workplaces (including shops) close for lunch between 12 pm and 2 pm. Many people will have a 3-course lunch and then go back to work. In the evening they tend to just have what we would consider lunch food such as a sandwich or some soup. Good luck talking your boss into letting you have a 2-hour lunch though 😉
👨👩👧👦 eat with others
Food is great as part of a social experience involving chatting and sharing. It also forces you to eat more slowly and be mindful and present while you’re eating.
🫒 focus on unsaturated fats
Lean toward plant oils when cooking and away from fats and oils that come from animals, including butter and cream. Saturated fats tend to raise cholesterol levels and are not particularly heart-healthy. Given that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women, it’s really important to look after your heart health.
🥦 eat more fruits & vegetables than meat
Meals should contain more fruits, vegetables and whole grains than they do meat products. This means using meat more sparingly as part of a larger vegetable dish rather than meat being the focus of the meal. It’s also good for the environment and animal welfare.
🍚 choose whole grains
Rather than eating white bread and processed rice or pasta, choose the whole grain variety. Whole grains are especially high in fibre, which helps your bowels move more easily. This is great if you have bowel symptoms or conditions such as IBS.
Foods high in soluble fibre like oats can also reduce cholesterol levels and help maintain a healthy weight. These types of carbs also release energy more slowly and consistently which again means better focus and concentration which is great if brain fog is problematic for you.
How about you….recognise any of the habits in yourself? If so you’re on the right track!! Keep up the good work and see how many more you can try that you aren’t already.