menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 64: Diets Don’t Work

Last night on TV I watched an interesting documentary called The Men Who Made Us Thin. It was about the diet industry, how and why it started and why diets don’t work (for the majority of us in the long term). It made fascinating viewing.

starvation diet

The diet industry was essentially created in the US in the 1940’s as a result of the actions of one man: the chief statistician of the world’s biggest insurance company, MetLife. He looked at the age of death and the weight of MetLife’s 4 million policy holders and noticed that overweight people died earlier. He then went on to create charts of ideal body weight which were even embraced by the medical profession. Overnight, these charts deemed that about half the American population were overweight and so, a nation’s obsession with dieting was born.

The programme went on to analyse statistics of how many dieters managed to lose weight and crucially how many of those had kept the weight off 5 years later. The success rate, measured on these terms is pitifully small (around 15%) and that is what keeps the diet industry merry-go-round turning. It is one of the few industries, in whose interest it is, that the product effectively fails!

fad diet

So what is the answer? Well, crash diets and faddy diets are definitely not the way forward. Even if weight is lost by these methods, it will almost certainly be put back on once ‘normal’ eating patterns return and many people actually end up weighing more than they did before they started!

healthy eating

The problem with most diets is that they involve a short term change in habits (which may or may not be successful in losing weight) and then most people go back to their old eating habits (which made them put on weight in the first place) and wonder why the weight piles back on. And so the cycle repeats itself.

The consensus is that the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your eating habits permanently. Instead of focussing on weight, focus on eating natural healthy food and becoming fitter and weight loss will follow. It’s not rocket science, but eating moderate helpings of healthy food is not always easy in today’s fast paced world of instant ready meals, sugar and fat laden snacks and processed food. Not only are these things readily available but they are constantly promoted and advertised and they can be as addictive as cocaine (see Day 59 post on Sugar).

Each of us needs to develop a new arsenal of healthy and easy meals and recipes that fit into our lifestyle. Ones that rely on fresh vegetables, lean protein and ‘good’ poly & mono unsaturated fats… that are simple to prepare… with readily available ingredients. Without this essential ‘food toolkit’ we cannot hope to stay off the diet bandwagon.

Once I reach my target weight I hope I will continue to eat the same food that I have been eating over the last 64 days. I will be able to relax the rules a little, introduce some carbs again perhaps and treat myself to the occasional dessert but in order to keep the weight off I must say goodbye to my old eating habits.

Day 64: Food Diary

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon salad with ready made 3 bean salad, feta cheese, pine nuts and green leaves

Dinner: Pork & Apple sausage with spring cabbage

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, menopause cake with tahini – see snack recipe page

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Day 63: Eat Raw

While the summer is here its easier to eat as much of your food as possible raw…

raw food diet pyramid

Here’s why you should do it…

  1. Raw foods have more nutrients – vitamins, minerals and enzymes that aren’t destroyed by cooking
  2. Eat as much as you want – see pyramid above – its pretty hard to overdose on raw food
  3. No bloating
  4. Quick and easy to prepare
  5. Less cleaning up!
  6. Healthy regular bowels

Take advantage of the summer season to boost  your raw food intake and save the wonderful stews, soups, bakes and casseroles for the cooler weather.

Food Diary Day 63

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon salad with green leaves, edamame beans, pine nuts, tomatoes, beetroot and snow peas.

smoked salmon salad


Dinner: Feta salad with green leaves, three bean salad, beetroot, tomatoes and coleslaw

feta salad


Drinks and Snacks: 4 bourbon biscuits, strawberries and raspberries, 2 squares dark chocolate

I had run out of dark chocolate the last few days and I’m sure that has contributed to me raiding the biscuit tin. I do like a sweet finish after a meal and a couple of small squares of plain chocolate, savoured slowly, really do the trick. The one I buy has 5 squares in a row and the whole row is about 100 calories… well worth it for me.

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Day 61: More menopause headache theories

Readers of yesterdays post will remember me questioning whether my sugar cravings over the last couple of days triggered a headache or whether underlying hormonal fluctuations caused the headache, with sugar cravings being an associated symptom.

sugar cravings


Anyway I was reading back over my last posts and about 35 days ago, on days 24/25, the same thing happened… therefore I am leaning towards the hormonal theory. It will be interesting to see about 35 days from now if the same thing happens. Forearmed is forewarned so I will make sure there are no sweet temptations in the house and look out for depleted willpower!

The headache has now finally gone after the third day, my typical menopausal headache pattern.

Tonight we had chinese takeaway and this was very easy to maintain my diet rules… I just had the stir fried mixed vegetables and added a chopped up marinated chicken breast that I needed to use up.

Food Diary Day 61

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Bavarian Donka bread (rye with poppy seeds and linseeds) with cheese & tomato

Dinner: Chinese stir fried vegetables with marinated chicken breast

chines take out on a diet


Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea, no other snacks as I split my lunch in two, 2 slices of Donka at lunch and 2 mid afternoon

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Day 59: The New Poison: Sugar

Had a bit of a wobble today due to temptations of easily available kids sweets – namely, jelly worms, strawberry bonbons and chocolate honeycomb…

chocolate honeycomb strawberry bonbons jelly snakes

I did not feel good after eating a generous handful of each and got an almost instant headache. No wonder my migraines have disappeared after starting this diet and cutting out all the high sugar rubbish.

sugar poison

Here is an extract from an article in the Telegraph on sugar addiction

“It seems that our desire to load up with sugar regularly may not be the cheeky reward-cum-energy boost we think it is. Increasingly, experts believe we can be truly addicted to sugar. French scientists in Bordeaux reported that in animal trials, rats chose sugar over cocaine (even when they were addicted to cocaine), and speculated that no mammals’ sweet receptors are naturally adapted to the high concentrations of sweet tastes on offer in modern times. They worried, in a paper published in 2007, that the intense stimulation of these receptors by our typical 21st-century sugar-rich diets must generate a supra-normal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.

So if you feel like you are craving a chocolatey treat, that craving is more than just a figure of speech. You may be one of the world’s most common dependants: a sugar addict.”

In fact a group of experts called the ‘No Sugar’ movement warns that our sweet habit is completely out of control. They say that sugar, whether added to food by you or the manufacturer, is the greatest threat to human health, bar none.

Food Dairy Day 59:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Prawn salad with hummus, green leaves, beetroot, tomato, roasted peppers and pine nuts

prawn salad

Dinner: Ramen Pot noodle – yes carbs, but it was quick and tasty and still healthy – miso and soy for the menopause symptoms

ramen pot noodles


Drinks and Snacks: herbal tea, above mentioned sweets, 2 biscuits, 1 square dark chocolate



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Day 58: Want More Energy?

tired all the time

A couple of months back my mum commented that she didn’t remember being so tired all the time at my age. She thought I should go and get myself checked out at the doctors. I never went but I do remember  feeling tired all the time.  Now, since I have been eating healthily and specifically eating less high sugar foods I have so much more energy…. plus my frame of mind is generally more positive too. It just goes to show how important the type of fuel you give your body is, in order to function effectively in today’s fast paced world.

Foods that sap energy are high sugar processed food (biscuits, sweets, cakes etc), fizzy drinks and even energy drinks (which give you a quick spike of energy but then leave you in a slump), fatty foods (that your body has to work hard to digest), alcohol and skipping meals!

Food Diary Day 58:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon, broccoli and asparagus, steamed ans drizzled with tamari soy sauce



Dinner: smoked trout with ready made mixed bean salad and beetroot



Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea, 6 squares dark chocolate, 1 bourbon biscuit, halva

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Day 57: Mistaking thirst for hunger

When you are next tempted to reach for a snack, check that its food your body is really after and not a drink. Sophisticated though our bodies are, it is surprisingly easy to mistake thirst for hunger. Sometimes all our body wants is a glass of water but instead we give it more food, leading to overeating and dehydration.

Its important on this diet to try not to ‘waste’ calories by drinking them. Sticking to herbal tea and water means that you are limiting your calorie intake to food only – and therefore you are more likely to use them wisely. Calories in drinks such as juice come from sugars which cause a spike in insulin – switching our body fat gauge to ‘store’ instead of ‘burn’ fat. For more on this see Day 33 post on Low carbs vs Low Fat diets.

It may be tempting to drink zero calorie, artificially sweetened drinks instead, however not only are these full of chemicals and high in acid, there is also some evidence that eating/drinking sweet tasting things still leads to insulin release (and therefore fat storage) even if they are calorie free.

Food Diary Day 57:

Breakfast: Menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Felafel & hummus salad with roasted peppers, tomatoes and green leaves

felafel salad

Dinner: Peppered smoke fish and stir fried vegetables (steamed broccoli, roasted courgette & pepperdew peppers) topped with sesame seeds and a few almonds

peppered fish salad

Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 2 mini pittas and hummus, 5 squares dark chocolate, 2 squares milk chocolate, 4 tortilla chips, 2 toffees – was tempted by a few things in the house today as I left it a bit too long between meals


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Day 56: This Diet in a Nutshell

how to lose w eight healthily


I like this sentiment as this is essentially what the diet I have been following is all about. No calorie counting or weighing. No looking up values for food or calculating. The key elements can be summarised in just 3 points:

  1. No bread, rice, pasta or potatoes
  2. Minimum 50% of plate = vegetables, the rest ‘good’ mono or polyunsaturated fats and protein
  3. No processed junk, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes, biscuits etc

For a fuller explanation of the diet rules see my post on Day 39 – Goal Setting and New Diet Rules

Food Diary Day 56:

Breakfast: Menopause Meusli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Ready made edamame bean salad, watercress and salmon terrine

Dinner: Beetroot, broad bean, feta cheese & watercress salad

Snacks & Drinks: herbal tea, 4 squares dark chocolate, halva (a delicious and very sweet treat made from sesame seeds)

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Day 54: Do you need to exercise to lose weight?

One of my diet rules is to exercise 5 days a week – for me this means either a run (about half an hour) or leg toning exercises. At one time exercise was considered an essential part of losing weight but I have been reading recently that current thinking reveals that exercising is not particularly necessary. In fact some studies showed that people who exercised actually lost less weight that those who did no exercise as the exercisers increase in appetite resulted in a tendency to overcompensate and/or self reward for their efforts.

However this theory is still quite controversial and a recent article in the press also reveals that people who exercise are much more likely not to put back on all the weight they have lost, not to mention the other health benefits of being physically active.

My experience bears out the theory that exercise is not necessary to lose weight, but I found that when I did exercise, the weight loss was easier and faster. Plus I feel better about myself when I exercise because of all those great feel-good endorphins that are released with physical activity and the leg toning exercises are definitely increasing my muscle tone and, as the adverts say, ‘reducing the appearance of cellulite’!!

I’d say, get out there, in moderation, and do what makes you feel good.

running motivation

Food Diary Day 54:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

menopause muesli

Lunch: 3 mini pittas, hummus, lentil & butternut squash dahl leftovers

Dinner: Salmon terrine, green salad, beetroot, tomato, sprouted peas and beans ready made salad

salmon terrine

Snacks & Drinks: herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, 3 pringles

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Day 48: Loving Leftovers

Never underestimate the usefulness of leftovers, especially when on a diet and it can be hard to figure out what to make everyday.

I fried up my leftover cabbage, broccoli and spicy chicken with sesame seeds, pepperdew peppers and pine nuts with a splash more of yesterdays sticky chilli and balsamic glaze – delicious

stir fried leftovers

Food Diary Day 48:

Breakfast: menopause smoothie – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Rice noodles in broth with chopped chicken… these are the first carbs I have had for ages and I shouldn’t really be having them but I was starving and desperate and figured it wouldn’t hurt this one time.

Dinner: Stir fried leftovers from last night – cabbage, broccoli & spicy chicken with pine nuts and sesame seeds and  a splash of sticky chilli and balsamic glaze

Snacks and Drinks: Herbal tea, 2 squares dark chocolate, apple and cheese

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Day 47: Sticky Chilli and Balsamic Glaze

Another wonderful ingredient that is perfect for marinating and cooking chicken, pork, fish, tofu and anything else you might fancy with it. Made by Jamie Oliver, this wonderful Sticky Chilli and Balsamic Glaze can be added to meat before during or after cooking according to your taste and drizzled over salads to give them an interesting sweet and mild kick.

jamie oliver sticky chilli balsamic glaze

I used it for tonight’s dinner to coat the chicken just at the end of cooking.

Food Diary Day 47:

Breakfast: menopause smoothie – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Felafel Salad… felafels, hummus, ready made 3 bean salad, grilled peppers, cucumber, hazlenuts & beetroot

felafel salad

Dinner: Piri Piri chicken strips with sticky chilli and balsamic glaze, steamed cabbage with nutmeg and paprika, broccoli with soy sauce and sesame seeds

Remember to have at least half your plate full of vegetables!

piri piri chicken strips

Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea, 6 squares dark chocolate, blueberries

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