menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 90: Your Target Weight – the beginning or the end?

My goal was to reach my target weight in 100 days. This meant losing a stone (14 lbs) and trying to control my menopausal symptoms (hot sweats and migraines) through diet.

I am now half a pound off my target and now that the summer is coming to an end and I have other priorities looming, this will be my last post on a regular basis. My menopausal hot sweats and migraines have vastly improved to a manageable level. So, all in all, a huge personal success for me… and my initial reaction was “Yay, its the end of my diet… now I can eat what I like… freedom at last!”

But the statistics on the number of people who put all their lost weight back on (and sometimes more) when their diet ends do not make happy reading. I quickly realised that reaching my target weight is far from the end, but is actually a new beginning, if I am to keep it that way.

I cannot go back to my old ways of eating and whilst I can indulge occasionally in a treat – a dessert, chocolate bar, some chips and dips, a few glasses of wine, a slice of chocolate cake or a plate of fries, these things will have to remain just that – treats! To maintain my weight, manage my menopausal symptoms and keep my energy levels and self esteem up, I will need to carry on eating in pretty much the same way that I have been doing for the last 90 days. Always!

I must admit that it does feel a little scary. I am a little worried that without the discipline of writing this blog that I will slip back into old habits. Time will tell.  I hope I have learnt enough for this not to happen.

So do I feel deprived? Am I destined to be ‘on a diet’ forever?

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Well no… it doesn’t feel that way. I would not want to go back to the bloating, migraines, hot sweats, too tight clothes, tired all the time  lifestyle that I had 90 days ago. I no longer think of living by my ‘diet rules’ as a penance, or as depriving myself, but as a positive, new, healthy way of life. The joy is that I don’t have to be so strict as the last 90 days but in the main, I will still stick to the principles that I have learned.

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Thank you to all my followers… you will probably never know how much your support has meant to me and how instrumental it has been in helping me lose weight. Keep in touch and let me know if you start your own blogs!

Food Dairy Day 90:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: M&S quinoa and nut salad

nutty-grain-salad

Dinner: Smoky marinated prawns and stir fried mixed vegetable

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Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 6 squares dark choc, apple, carrot & hummus

PS I finally got some coconut oil – see my earlier post on the hormonal benefits of this – delicious to use for stir frying vegetables

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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 60: Cravings and Headaches – which comes first?

Interesting conundrum because the last 2 days I have had a headache… not the debilitating pre-diet migraines but still, a persistent nagging ache that has lasted 2 days now. Yesterday I ate sugar loaded kids sweets and the headache started but I cant really remember which came first… and I ‘m wondering did the sweets trigger the headache or were there underlying factors (perhaps hormones?) that were responsible for both the headache and accompanying sugar cravings?

Yesterday I thought that the sweets had been the trigger but today I’m not so sure. The headache is still here and 6 biscuits and a handful of chilli doritos have found their way into todays food diary. Its a bit of a chicken and egg situation that I may never get to the bottom of… the only thing I can say for sure is that the headaches have definitely improved on this diet and sugar almost certainly plays a part in them – but which comes first? Only time will tell and staying off the sweets!

Food Diary Day Day 60:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Sushi – assorted

Dinner: Salmon salad

salmon salad

 

Snacks & Drinks: herbal tea, 3 bourbon biscuits, 3 chocolate caramel biscuits, 3 squares dark chocolate, handful of chilli Doritos

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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 29: Two Great Menopause Diet Recipes

Today I had some delicious food!

It is interesting how since I have been doing this diet I have enjoyed the taste of food much more. I noticed when I was eating lots of junk, particularly high sugar/fat I felt that ‘real’ food tasted bland and uninteresting. This was because my palette was attuned to the taste of high fat and high sugar and when that’s what you want, nothing healthy matches up to it.

Today for lunch I made a quick mackerel salad that was fast, easy and very tasty and very good for skin, hair, anti-aging, joints, blood pressure and heart!

mackerel salad

This is what the salad contained:

Peppered mackerel – great source of Omega 3

Half an avocado – anti oxidants, Vit E, monounsaturated fatty acid, carotenoids

Sprouted Alfafa  – antioxidants, vitamins & protein

Hummus – chickpeas are a great source of phytoestrogens – essential in combating menopause symptoms

Olives – monounsaturated fats

Tomatoes – vitamins, antioxidant lycopene

Beetroot – antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

It was from a diet point of view probably fairly high in fat – but all the ‘good’ kind and half my plate was vegetables/fruit.

For Dinner I made a wonderful red lentil and sweet potato dahl – see dinner recipe page – full of phytoestrogens & protein (lentils)  and antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, complex carbs (sweet potato), plus mushrooms, onions, garlic and miso!

red lentil and sweet potato dahl

so heres my Day 29 Food Diary:

Breakfast: Menopause Muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Peppered Mackerel salad – see above

Dinner: Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Dahl

Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, pear, slice of menopause cake – see snack recipe page – with tahini

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Day 28: 1 month on

Today my son had cookery at school and made cupcakes. He proudly bought a batch home and asked if I’d like to try one. I protested that I am on a diet and he said that I deserved a treat. How could I refuse? I didn’t!

cupcake

 Cupcake aside… its day 28 and 1 month since I started. Just to recap… apart from losing weight I wanted to change my diet to manage my menopause symptoms – primarily migraines and hot flushes. So how have these symptoms been the last month?

Well I’m pleased to say that there has been a vast improvement. I had a mild headache on days 24 and 25 and interestingly this coincided with a 3 very difficult diet days in which I really struggled (and failed) to stay healthy. I think there was probably a hormonal reason for both the sweet cravings and the headache, however it was definitely not  a migraine, which is a major improvement.

The hot flushes have all but disappeared whereas before the diet changes I was having several per day. Again I did have a few on the wobbly diet days in which my sugar intake spiked. I think, for me, the hot flushes are definitely related to a high sugar intake. So, I do believe that my menopause symptoms can definitely be controlled by diet.

This is due to an increase in phytoestrogens which in my case has come mainly from soya milk, oats, lentils and seeds.

I have stayed off the scales this week as I find my weight fluctuations from day to day really affect my mood and ability to stick to the diet. I feel like I have lost weight and I know that in the first couple of weeks I lost about 2lbs. I may have lost another half to 1lb but I don’t want to get on the scales as it is too demotivating if they read more than I hoped for. I am doing my best, I feel thinner and more confident and that’s ok for me, for now.

Food Diary Day 28

Breakfast: Menopause meusli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Rye bread slice with cottage cheese, beetroot, felafel and sprouted beans – a weird mix but very nice!

Dinner: Haddock with tomato and olive sauce and mixed vegetables (grilled courgette (zucchini) green beans and sweetcorn) – see dinner recipe page

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, 3 squares dark chocolate, slice of rye bread with honey, cupcake!

 

 

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Day 20: Lentils for cheats

One of my secret ingredients are these pouches of cooked lentils.

lentil pouch

 

They are quick and easy to use and taste delicious. Here’s what you can do with them:

Add them to soups

Have them on the side with any fish (especially salmon and trout)

Add to casseroles or stews

Mix with left over rice and cooked vegetables

Just heat them on their own with multi-grain toast or pitta for a really quick and healthy lunch

Use cold straight from the pouch in a salad

Mix with roasted butternut squash and crumble feta cheese over the top

Mix with cooked sausages or grilled chicken

Remember lentils are a good source of phytoestrogen – good for the menopause  – they are low in fat, high in fibre and a good source of protein and iron.

Food Diary Day 20:

Breakfast: Menopause Muesli – see Breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Chicken and sweet potato soup – see Lunch Recipe page

Dinner: Lentil Chile – see Dinner Recipe page

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, fresh cherries, 2 squares dark chocolate

Pretty good day today – I keep thinking about yesterday’s motivation poster – see Day 19 post!

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Day 17: No ‘hot flashes’ in Japan

It is reported that the Japanese, until recently, did not have a word for hot flashes/hot flushes associated with the menopause. A quick look online reveals that between 7 and 25% of Japanese women report hot flashes/hot flushes as a menopausal symptom. It is thought that diet plays a key role in this.

japanese food

The Japanese diet includes relatively large amounts of fermented soy products such as miso and natto and unfermented soy products like tofu which have isoflavones that act as phytoestrogens to mimic the effects of estrogen. These phytoestrogens – found in most edible beans and not just soy – are thought to offset the steep drop in estrogen levels during menopause and help ease the effects of hot flashes and night sweats. Phytoestrogens may also help prevent heart disease and breast cancer, both of which have lower incidences among Japanese women.

The Japanese diet is also comparatively low in fat, alcohol, sugar, dairy, meat and spicy food which rank amongst the top aggravators of hot flashes as well as mood swings. A fatty diet can also exacerbate weight gain, another common symptom of menopause.

Definitely food for thought there!

Food Diary Day 17:

After the last couple of days of low motivation and, despite relatively healthy food, portions are still to large, I went for a run this morning.

Breakfast: Porridge with berries and ground linseed

Lunch: Coronation Chicken sandwich with tomato, rocket (arugula), avocado and mozzarella salad – not ideal as a bit high in fat but all that was available.

Dinner: Baked butternut squash with brown rice and nuts – see dinner recipes page

baked butternut squash

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, a handful of high sugar, chemical laden kiddies sweets.

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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 5: The Soya Debate

First of all soy and soya are the same… the first is American and the second is English. As I am a Brit I will be calling it soya in my blog.

I have been drinking soya milk on and off for a while now. I choose only milk made with organic, non-GM whole soya beans. There is, for me, no doubt that it helps my menopausal migraines and hot flushes as when I went on holiday and stopped drinking soya milk, my symptoms returned with a vengeance. I like soya milk and usually pour it onto my muesli or use it in a smoothie. It is recommended as a source of isoflavones (one of several types of phytoestrogens) in all the menopause diet books that I have bought.

However I have been reading about soya consumption and there is a lot of controversy about how good (or otherwise) it is for you. In fact some sources say that consuming some forms of soya is actually damaging to your health. It’s a bit of a minefield with much conflicting advice (especially relating to its effect on breast cancer and the thyroid gland).

soya beans soya beans white

I am not a nutritionist or dietician, nor do I have the time to read (or the qualifications to interpret) all the scientific studies out there regarding the effect of soya on health but, I am an educated and interested woman, who wants to do the best for herself, and these are what I understand to be the main points:

  • The belief that soya is good for you comes from studies of the Asian (mainly Japanese) diet which contains relatively high levels of soya. Japanese life expectancy, particularly that of the Okinawans, is the highest in the world.
  • Soya products may be fermented and unfermented. Unfermented soy products include soy milk, tofu. soy protein powders, soy meat alternatives, all processed soy products (e.g. spreads, yogurts, ice cream, burgers etc). Fermented soy products are miso, tempeh, natto and traditionally fermented soy sauce.
  • The Japanese traditionally eat only fermented soy products. In the west we eat primarily unfermented soy products.
  • The benefits of the Japanese Okinawan diet cannot be attributed just to fermented soy. By weight, 72% of their diet is made up of vegetables, grains and fruit, 14% from soya and seaweed and 11% from fish… only 3% of their diet comes form meat, poultry and eggs. They eat hardly any dairy and do not lead sedentary lifestyles.
  • There is contradictory evidence that eating unfermented soya products results in any health benefits and there is growing evidence that eating food containing unfermented soya can be detrimental to health.
  • Today the soya bean is a heavily sprayed, genetically modified crop.
  • There is a lot of hidden soya in processed food – look out in the list of ingredients for hydrolysed or textured vegetable protein, soy protein concentrate and soy protein isolate.
  • Growing soya is a multi billion dollar industry in whose interest it is to persuade us that soya is a healthy choice.

To be honest, what I am reading is putting me off my soya milk! I am thinking that I might cut down on my soya milk consumption and try a cup of miso soup instead… more on that venture to follow. Fortunately soya is not the only food high in phytoestrogens (although it has the highest concentrations)… other pulses, sprouted beans, seeds (especially flaxseed or linseed) and whole grains are also good sources of phytoestrogens. Here is my take on what I have read so far…

  • Choose fermented soya products made from whole, organic, non-GM soya beans.
  • Avoid processed food containing unfermented soya.
  • All things in moderation.

Day 5 – Food Diary:

Breakfast: Half a grapefruit, 2 small slices of Banana Tahini Multiseed toast (see Breakfast recipes)

Lunch: Mushroom, Courgette (Zucchini)) & Rocket (Arugula) Egg Scramble on Multigrain toast, cherry tomatoes (see lunch recipes)

mushrooms, courgettes and rocket egg scramble

Dinner: Fresh Tuna Sweet Chilli Noodle Stir Fry – see Dinner recipe page

sweet chilli tuna noodle stir fry

Snacks & Drinks: Slice of Menopause Cake, 2 squares of dark chocolate, herbal tea

I have felt my will power flagging today. The weather is miserable and even a bit cold. I was sorely tempted by some chocolate in the kitchen cupboard but shut the door firmly on it! Yay.

Related Articles:

http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/08/06/how-soy-can-kill-you-and-save-your-life/#close

http://sabrinascrossing.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/soy-part-ii-fermented-vs-unfermented.html

http://www.naturalnews.com/025513_soy_food_soybeans.html

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