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Hormone imbalances are not the only change a woman experiences during menopause; weight gain and hot flushes are two of the most common symptoms. But with a few diet changes, a woman can not only lose weight but keep symptoms at bay.
Sue Camp, a registered nutritional therapist and functional medicine practitioner, says ditching sugary snacks could be key in helping women during menopause.
Sue, resident hormones expert for at-home health test provider Omnos, said: “People generally snack on carbohydrate-based foods which can cause a spike in blood sugar levels.
“With a menopausal drop in oestrogen, this can impact metabolism, fat distribution and the impact of insulin.”
Menopause is defined as the cessation of a woman’s period for a year due to a shift in hormone levels, particularly a decrease in oestrogen. It can come with a raft of symptoms including weight gain, anxiety, sleep problems, mood changes and hot flushe
Part of Sue’s approach to managing menopause symptoms involves aiming to balance overall body systems in an attempt to rebalance hormone levels, thus helping to relieve symptoms.
She explained: “The foundations of a healthy diet are crucial. We want to be eating enough protein, healthy fats, and a variety of fruit and vegetables providing great fibre. But we can also look at how you eat and when you eat.”
Sue shared some tips: “Eat away from your desk and screens and slow down. Chew more. Be present and be grateful. It will all help your digestive function and assimilation of nutrients.
“We want to avoid grazing throughout the day, which is often driven by emotional hunger rather than physical hunger.
“Regular mealtimes work well for most people. Intermittent fasting may work for some, but not everyone.
“Start slowly, maybe by stopping snacks between meals, and then moving toward a 12-hour fast, for example between dinner and breakfast the next morning.”
Intermittent fasting is used to not only lose weight, but to improve health and simplify lifestyles.
It is an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating. It doesn’t specify which foods you should eat but rather when you should eat them.
There are several forms of intermittent fasting, the most popular being 16:8 – fast for 16 hours and eat within an eight hour window.
One diet plan that includes intermittent fasting is 5:2 developed by Dr Michael Mosley. It involves eating 500 calories two days a week and then 1800-2000 calories the remaining five days a week.
As well as looking at the timing of meals, Sue says it’s essential to choose the right foods to support your hormonal well-being.
She said: “Phytoestrogens are plant-derived substances that can weakly bind to oestrogen receptors. They have been shown to have a balancing effect on hormones. These include lentils, soybeans, chickpeas and flaxseeds.
“Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, radishes and kale contain a naturally occurring compound which actively promotes the breakdown of oestrogen to beneficial metabolites.
“The negative impact of alcohol and caffeine, especially on sleep, can also be underrated.
“There are positive benefits from caffeine, but I would say not more than three cups of coffee a day and aim to drink them before lunch,” she added.
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