The change of life has a pre-game season, and that season can last for a decade. It's called perimenopause and is a time when your body starts making the transition toward full-blown menopause, which is when you go a year without a period. Perimenopause can begin as early as your thirties and while you are still fertile, your ovaries begin to produce less estrogen (though levels can still unpredictably increase and decrease).
As a result of this hormonal fluctuation, women experience many unpleasant symptoms, including anxiety, depression, sleep problems, hot flashes, muscle weakness, and loss, decreased sex drive and weight gain.
In our last blog, we talked about how to exercise to help alleviate the symptoms of perimenopause, and today, we're going to talk about the perimenopause diet.
Eating a perimenopause-minded diet won't automatically remove every symptom of perimenopause, but it can help reduce the symptoms.
More Protein. Eating more protein can help mitigate muscle loss and when combined with exercise, support muscle gain.
Try eating protein throughout the day to keep your body topped up. This tact will also help keep you fuller, longer, and reduce blood sugar dips and spikes that can lead to overeating.
You don't have to start eating steak or beans with every meal, but adding some lentils to a soup or stew, peanut butter instead of butter to your toast, almonds to your yogurt or a hardboiled egg to your mid-day snack is a great way to boost your protein and keep those perimenopause symptoms under control.
Learn more:Plant-Protein vs. Animal Protein.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids.The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are many. One of the most important reasons to include them in your perimenopause diet is because they improve mood and decrease depression.
If you eat meat, two, four-ounce servings of fatty fish every week is enough to help combat mood swings. Fish oil supplements are another option. If you don't eat meat, consider vegan omega-3 supplements, which are made from sea vegetation. There are other vegan sources of omega-3, but not all of them contain the right amounts of every omega-3, so unless you want to do some serious measuring, vegan supplements are a solid choice.
Learn more:Do You Need to Take Omega-3 Supplements?
Eat Fibre. LOTS of Fibre.You probably already know this by now, but fibre curbs cravings by helping you feel fuller for longer. As you age and your metabolism slows down, this is crucial to maintaining a healthy body weight--and an unhealthy BMI can lead to increased feelings of depression, not to mention an increased risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
So how much fibre do you need? If 80% of the food you eat is whole food, chances are, you're already getting enough. If you need a number, aim for 21 grams of fibre a day. Lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes will do the trick.
Need help getting enough whole foods? Check out ourMeal Plan & Nutrition Guide and learn how to make whole food your default nosh. On sale now!
Calcium.As you age, you're at an increased risk of osteoporosis, which can lead to brittle bones. Aim to get 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day to keep your bones healthy and strong.
Vitamin D.Not only can vitamin D help nurture strong bones and healthy calcium metabolism, but it can also reduce depression and improve mood. Getting outside for 20 minutes a day is a great way to soak up this sunshine vitamin. You can also take a supplement.
We recommend speaking to your doctor about your daily recommended intake. While many professionals recommend between 400 and 800 IU/day (10-20 micrograms), some research has indicated a higher amount may be beneficial.
Processed Foods.Processed foods contain refined carbs, processed sugars, saturated fats and can cause cravings and blood sugar spikes. Avoid processed foods when you can and aim to eat more whole foods, like quinoa instead of white rice.
Caffeine and Alcohol. Both caffeine and booze can exasperate hormonal disruptions, so it is best to limit these during perimenopause and menopause. You don't need to feel more strung out and/or depressed than you may already feel.
It's important to remember that perimenopause, while unpleasant, is also a natural biological process. There is nothing wrong with you: you are simply transitioning from one stage of life to another, and like all of life's stages, there is a lot to embrace and enjoy. So take care of yourself so you can enjoy it to its fullest.
Get nutrition help with our collection ofnutrition guides and meal plans. From vegan to low-carb to an omnivore diet and intermittent fasting, we have guides for all eating likes and types that focus on whole foods and delicious recipes. And for a limited time, they're on sale.Check 'em out!
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