My menopausal journey – the power of food **

I’ve been thinking about sharing my menopausal journey as a blog for a number of weeks now.  As  women, the simple fact is, there is absolutely no escaping it and by sharing my journey I may be able to help someone.

I’ll be honest, I had little idea about the menopause apart from the fact that I would go through it at some stage. Okay, so I did know that most women suffer hot flushes but that was the sum total of my knowledge. I turned 40 and then 45 still blissfully oblivious. 

I probably started to notice subtle changes at the age of 46 and I was surprised. Naïvely I thought that my periods would just peter out and eventually stop. Imagine my surprise when I went from being able to set my watch by my periods to having 2 in one month with one bleed lasting nearly two weeks. Adding insult to injury I went form a “regular” girl to “super plus” almost overnight. 

I still carried on thinking ‘okay if this is as bad as it gets then I can live with it’ unaware that Mother Nature was going to up the ante.

I adopted the Scouting motto of ‘Be Prepared’ and never left the house without my ‘super plus’ but I wasn’t prepared for the excruciating stomach cramps that sometimes randomly made an appearance, with or without a period. In addition to this I would regularly get palpitations, these were nuisance value really but still unpleasant. 

I still had periodic chats with myself about how the symptoms of my menopause could be worse and accepted it………that was until the beginning of this year. I don’t really remember when the hot flushes started but I knew that to start sweating on the backs of my hands while I was going about my normal life, and have it rapidly spread up my arms and onto my forehead and back of my neck wasn’t normal unless I was experiencing further symptoms. The hot flushes became progressively more intense and I started to suffer from ‘brain fog’. The amount of times i’ve almost put scissors in the fridge, my socks in the bin and rubbish in the washing basket. Oh, and my husband says i’m grumpy but ‘I’M NOT!!!!!!!’

I accept that my current symptoms are far less than some women experience but I still didn’t like it so I decided to speak to a menopause specialist. I had an incredibly insightful session and came away with a balanced view of my different options and a reading list to enable me to help myself in whichever way I saw fit.

I am not against pharmaceutical interventions  but as I started reading I made the decision that I wanted to try to support my menopausal journey by making a few alterations to my diet in the first instance. I made the personal decision that if I didn’t try I wouldn’t know and, as I am fit and healthy I knew that it definitely wouldn’t hurt me. The recommendations I adopted are widely available on the internet and in books from nutritionists, naturopaths, nutritional therapists and some GP’s. 

So 4 weeks ago this is exactly what I did. Whilst my diet is generally nutritious, and based on fish and plant sources, I do have a few less healthy food/drink habits. I drank alcohol on a regular basis and i’ve always had an unhealthy and self-indulgent relationship with processed sugar. I did have a sneaking suspicion that both were a trigger for my hot flushes, which was confirmed when I read the advice (& the reasoning) to eliminate both. Eliminating caffeine is also on the list. Now I love a really nice cup of coffee so, not entirely willing to turn my back on my bean to cup machine, I now savour the one cup I have in the morning. I’ve increased the amount of oily fish (omega 3) I have in my diet, I eat more phytoestrogens in the form of pulses, sprouted beans and ground linseeds than before. I also have more good quality soya in the form of edamame beans, tempeh, soya flour and tofu (I have Tofoo or Cauldron, stay away from those that say soy isolate in the ingredients as they are heavily processed)

During the last 4 weeks I have maintained my current diet but haven’t been a total slave to it, I have had sweet and sour sauce in a takeaway, some m and m’s, crisps and a couple of puddings. I am really pleased to say that i’ve gone from having 4 or more hot flushes a day plus night sweats to none at all in the last 3 weeks. My palpitations and stomach cramps have also diminished. I’ve have tweaked my diet willingly and I am now reaping the rewards.

What I’ve adopted may not work for every woman but I figured I had nothing to lose by trying.

Your health is your wealth.

Leigh x

** Disclaimer – the information contained in this blog is based on the research I have done on and personal experimentation with diet. It is my personal opinion. It is not specific to individuals or their particular circumstances. This blog is not intended to replace treatment or advice from a medical professional or qualified practitioner.