There are various methods you can explore to help manage your health and symptoms during perimenopause and menopause. Whether you decide to take hormone replacement therapy or not, ensuring your diet is the best it can be will help support you for many years to come.
Aim to use a variety of protein sources throughout the week. You can do this by planning your meals for the week around the protein you’ll be having that day.
By eating different protein sources throughout the week, you’ll ensure you not only meet your protein needs, but also your micronutrient requirements. However, if you’re not a fan of fish, you may want to consider taking a high quality microalgae supplement to ensure you still receive omega 3, which is important for heart health.
Despite many of us knowing we should probably be eating more fruits and vegetables, UK adults are only eating on average 3.7 portions/day (1). The benefits of fruit and vegetables are body wide. The antioxidants they provide are linked to reducing the risk of developing heart disease. Meanwhile, the fibre they provide supports not only your heart health, but your digestive health also. Your gut bacteria use fibre for food, which helps them carry out their beneficial roles within your body.
Many people avoid vegetables because they find them bland and boring. Why not season them with some of your favourite herbs and spices? Lucy Jones (ANutr) recommends roasting a tray of vegetables with a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of garlic!
Vitamin D is commonly known as the sunshine vitamin… for a very good reason. UV light, from the sun, tends to be the primary source of vitamin D. It’s not that the sun is transmitting vitamin D into your body, rather the contact of UV light on your skin helps vitamin D production within your body.
Unfortunately, in the Autumn and Winter months in the UK, there’s very little sunlight. As a result, the NHS recommends UK adults take a 10 microgram vitamin D supplement each day from October to Late March (2). Just like any supplement, always choose one that is high quality. Making sure you have a good supply of vitamin D is important in supporting your bone health. With the increased risk of osteoporosis once you reach menopause, your vitamin D supplement is more important than ever before.
Many people are scared of fat. After all, fat makes you fat right? This definitely isn’t the case, and different types of fats can have different effects on your health.
One type of fat is saturated fat, which can be found in foods such as butter, sausages, cheese, cakes, biscuits, fatty meat and coconut oil. This type of fat is linked to raising levels of LDL cholesterol, which is typically labelled as the ‘bad’ type of cholesterol. LDL cholesterol promotes the build up of fatty deposits in arteries, which can block blood flow to vital organs, such as the heart and brain. This process is known as atherosclerosis and promotes heart disease.
Another type of fat is unsaturated fat and this can be found in olive, sunflower or rapeseed oils, avocados, nuts, seeds and oily fish. Unlike saturated fats, unsaturated fats help to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. In turn, this helps prevent the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries, reducing the risk of developing heart disease.
Switching saturated fats for unsaturated fats can help lower your risk of heart disease (3). An easy swap could include shallow frying with olive oil rather than butter. Another swap could involve swapping buttered toast for avocado toast.
By now you’ve got a better idea of what you need to do to improve your diet. But what now? More often than not, when you don’t plan new habits, you probably won’t keep them up for very long. It only takes a busy day of work and running after your family for it to be pushed to the side.
Our nutrition team recommends using a meal planner to make implementing these new changes easier. Sit down once a week and plan out your meals for the following week. This will give you a chance to sit and think about what you’ll be eating. Nigel Denby also suggests having a checklist to work from, where you can tick off each point that's met. For example, your checklist may have the following on it:
Making sure your diet can support you and your menopause doesn’t need to be complicated with some careful planning. Create a meal plan for next week and use this blog to create a checklist of points to include.
For more support and advice on nutrition in menopause, watch our The Fundamentals of Menopause Nutrition Masterclass with Dietitian Nigel Denby and Registered Associate Nutritionist Lucy Jones. This masterclass is available, with many other medical, nutritional and lifestyle-based masterclasses as part of our Supported Care membership to www.harleystathome.com, for just £19.00/month.
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