menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 12: Why diet can help your menopause symptoms

There is scientific evidence that menopausal symtoms such as migraines, hot flushes, mood swings and disrupted sleep can be eradicated or at the least, controlled by dietary changes. My personal experience bears this out.

The unpleasant physical symptoms associated with menopause are thought to be the result of falling oestrogen levels. Oestrogen is a hormone produced mainly by the ovaries. During the menopause the ovaries slowly shut down (as they run out of eggs) until they stop producing oestrogen altogether.

menopause cartoon

Certain foods contain substances called phytoestrogens which have a similar chemical structure to that of human oestrogen. They can have a hormone balancing effect in the human body when digested by bacteria in the gut by mimicking human oestrogen. They effectively compensate for the falling levels of oestrogen during the menopause and therefore alleviate menopausal symptoms caused by low oestrogen levels.

What foods contain phytoestrogens?

There are several different classes of phytoestrogens including:

Isoflavones: the riches source is found in legumes like soya beans, lentils, kidney beans & chickpeas

beans and legumes

Lignans: highest concentration in oilseeds, especially linseed (flaxseed), but these are found in nearly all grains and vegetables

seeds

Coumestans: mainly found in alfafa and mung bean sprouts.

sprouted beans

There are plenty of other sources of phytoestrogens… these are

Whole grains, like brown rice, barley ,rye and oats

Garlic, Celery, Parsley

Green leafy vegetables, like broccoli, sprouts, cabbage

Try to incorporate as much of these foods as possible in your diet, every day. The Menopause Cake is an excellent source of phytoestrogens. Care should be taken when choosing soya products. Please read my post on the Soya Debate for more on this.

Food Diary – Day 12

Unfortunately I fell off the diet wagon a bit today. I woke up with very little energy and have been wanting something sweet all day. I made it till the evening and just before bed fell prey to a lonely slice of New York Cheesecake in the fridge, whose ‘use by’ date was today. 350 calories according to the side of the box. I had it with fresh blueberries and it was absolutely delicious. To be honest I don’t even feel that guilty but I must make sure that it’s not the start of the slippery slope back to old habits. It just goes to show how important it is not to have these temptations in the house! At least it has gone now!

Breakfast: Half a grapefruit, Menopause Meusli

Lunch: Ready made Nut and Quinoa Salad

Dinner: Roast chicken on lentils with broccoli and courgettes (zucchini)

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, Menopause Cake slice with tahini, japanese cracker with cheese and serrano ham, 3 squares dark chocolate and, confession time, a caramel chocolate digestive and slice of New York cheesecake.

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Day 7: Trying Tempeh

In my Day 5 post I blogged about The Soya Debate and as a result of that research I decided to try and incorporate some fermented soya products into my diet, so to that end I will tell you about my Tempeh experiment! To recap quickly… I am trying to eat some fermented soya foods as soya is the best source of phytoestrogens (believed to alleviate menopausal symptoms). Fermented soya foods are a staple of the traditional Japanese diet, whose people are revered for their longevity (amongst other things). In the Western world much of the soya we consume is made from unfermented soya, about which there is much controversy concerning whether it is good or harmful for you.

Tempeh is one of the few fermented soy products that is not from Japan. It originated in Indonesia where it has been a favourite food and staple source of protein for several hundred years.  It is made by dehulling and cooking organic soya beans which are then mixed with a culture called Rhizopus Oligosporos and incubated overnight at around 30 degrees centigrade.  The culture grows through the beans binding them together into a solid block and the result is Tempeh.

tempeh
Tempeh has a nutty, savoury flavour and a firm chewable texture. It can be used in an variety of ways: shallow fried, baked or steamed and can be used as an ingredient in stir fries, curries, soups, spreads, salads and sandwiches, or as a protein source in many traditionally meat based recipes. There are are loads of tasty looking recipes online.
tempeh
I bought my Tempeh from my local health food shop. It is made by Impulse Foods using organic, non-GM soya beans.
As this is all new to me I decided to try something simple to start. I took a bottle of good quality (i.e. no E numbers and fake flavours) barbecue sauce, sliced up the tempeh and marinated it in the sauce for a couple of hours.
barbecue tempeh
Then I fried the marinated tempeh for a few minutes each side. My verdict? Gross! I wanted to like it so much but it was horrible! I think it was the barbecue sauce which was VERY strong. I did quite like the nutty texture though. I will have another go – but, as they say, don’t try this one at home! If anyone has any good tempeh recipes for beginners, please let me know!
Food Diary – Day 7
Breakfast: Menopause Smoothie – see breakfast recipe page
Lunch: Sushi at Yo Sushi – my favourite!
Dinner: Leftover rice and lentils from yesterday’s kedgeree topped with peppered mackerel and cherry tomatoes
Snacks & Drinks: Berries, herbal tea
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Day 4: Let them eat Menopause Cake!

In the late 1990′s Linda Kearns developed an novel alternative to traditional hormone replacement drugs – a flap-jack style cake, which was to sweep the UK by storm.

It might sound too good to be true… a cake that will help decrease menopausal symptoms? But the ingredients she uses – soya and seeds – are all rich in phyto oestrogens (the natural plant hormones that mimic oestrogen). Linda’s story was published in the Daily Mail and after it was featured, the paper was swamped by women begging for the recipe.

menopause cake

I think the cake is delicious. It makes a great ‘on the run’ breakfast or a perfect mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.  You can also freeze individually wrapped slices and take a slice out of the freezer each night for the next day. You can find the recipe on my Snack Recipes page.

Day 4 Food Diary:

Breakfast: Hot Lemon & Honey, Mashed Banana & Tahini on toast – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: 2 prawn sandwiches on multiseed wholemeal bread with cherry tomatoes, no butter but a small squirt of mayonnaise mixed with ketchup for a ‘marie rose sauce’ and a sprinkle of paprika

Dinner: Leftover Pork & Apple Sausage Cabbage pot from yesterday (I liked it so much!) – see dinner recipe page

Snacks & Drinks: Menopause cake slice, 2 Japanese Rice Crackers, herbal tea, water

I am feeling pretty good the last few days… Immediately I feel less bloated but I haven’t got on the scales yet as I find my weight fluctuates a bit on a daily basis, I prefer to just go with how I am feeling for now… and I feel thinner, so thats good enough for me!

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