The menopause. Not a word we bandy around with confidence is it?

It smacks of sweaty top lips, flabby underarms, mood swings of epic proportions and a smidgen of lethargy in the bedroom department. Frankly, we’d rather put it the back of our minds.

Classic symptoms are hot flushes, sweating, insomnia, anxiety, loss of memory, loss of libido, osteoporosis, heart disease and sometimes even dementia.

Shoot me now!

And it’s no surprise that it’s all down to our old friends the hormones. Reduced oestrogen and progesterone levels and their relationships with other hormones are what do the damage. Some of us may cruise through the menopause and may never need to utter the words, “Is it me or is it hot in here?”, and others will ride a tempestuous journey of calms and storms with not only a loss of sex drive, dignity and muscle tone, but probably a husband or two along the way.

However, eating the right foods NOW can apparently smooth the rocky path in preparation for your late 40’s, early 50’s. After much trawling and sifting through the web, here are my findings (with my two penn’orth in brackets):

  • HOT FLUSHES : Avoid stimulants like coffee, alcohol, chocolate and spicy foods. [So basically anything that’s sociable, a little bit naughty, relaxing or may lead to a night of chandelier swinging is banned. Try SAGE tablets. These seriously work. Trust me, I have a clan of people who have tried it and been delighted).
  • MOOD SWINGS : Munching at the office biscuits and pastries or relying on processed foods to soothe your anxiety will result in terrible mood swings [Dead right. Look after those glucose levels. Insulin is a chief driver of rocky hormone levels, so don’t let it get the better of you. Snack on homemade protein balls, nuts, low sugar fruit like berries and apples, goats cheese and oat cakes. Eat like a grown up.].
  • WEIGHT-GAIN: As we get older our metabolism decreases and we are more likely to gain body fat than someone half our age. [Correct. As we approach 45ish – although everyone is different – it will be harder for us to stay in the shape we want. We have to be vigilant and eat a diet of good fats (nuts, oily fish, coconut oil), lean protein, heaps of veg and complex carbohydrates when you exercise. Which of course you will do daily]
  • DRY SKIN: Pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, pulses all contain Vitamin E, zinc and calcium. Munch away [oh, those dry shins… why just shins? And before your ask, nuts are NOT fattening. Sugar is fattening].
  • DEPRESSION: Ensure you eat enough protein foods which contain the amino acid tryptophan. This helps boost our levels of serotonin (happy hormone). Find it in turkey, cottage cheese, oats and pulses. [Don’t whatever you do be tempted to follow a totally carb-free way of eating… you’ll be a snivelling wreck and it’ll be someone else’s fault!].
  • LOSS OF BONE DENSITY: Avoid fizzy drinks, too much red meat and processed foods which may contain high amounts of phosphorus. This will speed up loss of minerals from your bones. Eat foods high in magnesium and boron such as apples, pears, dates, pulses, nuts and do include good Greek yogurt in your diet (‘Total’ for example). [I agree. But also add some weight bearing exercise to help keep your skeletal structure strong. If you’re concerned your diet may be lacking in essential minerals then take a supplement which combines Vitamin E, magnesium, Vitamin D and zinc].

In short, limit sugary foods, take stimulants with care, eat little and often to stabilise hormone levels, exercise regularly, eat heaps of vegetables (more than you do fruit), eat loads of good fats (and also saturated fats…they have a bad reputation but in moderation, they are fine). Oh… and don’t think you have to suddenly start shopping in the ‘fuller briefs’ department of M&S. A little goes a long way.

You’re all gorgeous. Stay that way. Thank you for reading. Annie x

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