Menopause – Top tips on how to embrace this new stage of life and transition with ease by Nutritional Therapist Shakela Shan.
Managing the menopause through good nutrition, relaxation, sleep, and movement can have a positive effect on how you feel. Let’s begin with making small changes with nutrition:
- Eating a balanced and healthy plate consisting of all major food groups such as good quality protein, healthy fats, fiber-rich vegetables, whole grains and fruit.
- The menopause can present a variety of symptoms including hot flushes, low mood, brain fog, anxiety, headaches, weight changes, fatigue, joint aches, insomnia, irregular periods, low libido and the list goes on.
- Keeping a food diary can help to identify which foods trigger symptoms and which foods ease them. For instance, caffeine, alcohol and spicy food can trigger hot flushes and anxiety. Healthy swaps such as opting for de-caffeinated coffee, kombucha as a non-alcoholic beverage and reducing the amount of hot chilli spice used in cooking are great first steps.
- Refined sugary and highly processed foods can upset your blood sugar and hormone balance. Aiming for 30+ varieties of plant-based wholefoods a week will support gut health, which is closely linked to complex metabolic and hormonal processes that can influence menopausal symptoms. Seeking 30+ plant-based foods a week might seem daunting but it’s quite simple to achieve.
Let’s take a lentil curry for instance, which consists of 11+ ingredients in just one dish and one serving! A typical lentil curry can include onion, garlic, ginger, tomato, cumin seeds, salt, pepper, turmeric, lentils, spring onions, fresh coriander, served with wild basmati rice – give my dhaal recipe below a try.
- As oestrogen levels drop, bone health can become a concern. Eating good sources of calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and omega 3 rich foods are important. Consider fermented dairy, eggs, salmon, sardines, mackerel, nuts, flaxseeds, mushrooms and dark green leafy vegetables.
- Muscle mass naturally decreases during the menopause so think carefully about your choice of protein when plating up a balanced meal. Good sources include fish, eggs, poultry, meat, and plant-based varieties such as legumes, tempeh, oyster, shitaki and white mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, quinoa, wild rice and buckwheat. Protein will also help to keep us fuller for longer, and assist fluctuating hormones.
- Ensure that you are drinking enough fluids throughout the day. Some of my favourites are filtered water, hot lemon water, holy basil and green tea. Good hydration can help carry vital nutrients and oxygen to the cells. This can help increase energy, prevent headaches, joint pain, and aid better concentration, digestion and weight management.
- Finally, find a hobby that brings you the most joy. It might be cooking, spending time outdoors, reading, listening to music, dancing, watching a favourite film, socialising with friends, or gardening – one of my favourite happy places as Spring unfolds.
Dhaal – this is one of my favourite comforting curries full of plant-based protein, good quality fats, herbs and anti-inflammatory spices.
1 cup of red lentils
3 cups of water
3 tbsp. coconut oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
1” ginger root, grated
1 tomato, chopped
1 dried Kashmiri chilli
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp. of cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
Himalayan pink salt and black pepper to taste
Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- Place a large pan over the hob and set to a medium heat.
- Add the oil, onions, ginger, chilli, tomato and cumin seeds to the pan and cook on a medium heat until the onions start to sweat.
- Add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes until soft and light golden.
- Add the turmeric, heat for a couple of seconds and then add a splash of water to avoid the spice from burning.
- Add the lentils, 500ml of water, and salt to taste. Bring to the boil, place the lid on the pan, reduce to a medium heat and allow to cook for a further 20 minutes. The dhaal will thicken further whilst cooling.
- Finally garnish with fresh coriander just before serving. Can be served as a nourishing soup or on a bed of rice, with a raw side salad and yogurt dip.