menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

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 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!



Leave a comment »

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.

Leave a comment »

Day 15: Miso Soup Attempt No.2

Today was weighing day. This week it was a measly half a pound, but still a loss nevertheless! I am feeling heaps healthier that when I started, plus what they say about a healthy diet showing in your skin is true.

After my attempt at homemade miso soup yesterday I had an idea for a quick and easy lunch, but this time using a ready made sachet of Clearspring Organic Miso Soup, rice noodles and leftover stir fried vegetables form last night’s meal.

clearsrpring organic miso soup

So I cooked the noodles, refried the vegetables and added hot water (not boiling as it destroys the miso enzymes) to the sachet in large bowl. Then I added the noodles and vegetables to the soup and it was delicious!

miso soup with noodles and leftover vegetables

So here’s my Food Diary for Day 15:

Breakfast: Menopause Meusli

Lunch: Miso Soup with rice noodles and left over stir fry vegetables – see above

Dinner: Haddock with tomato sauce and olives, asparagus, green beans, courgettes (zucchini), peppers and boiled potatoes (see dinner recipe page), 3 profiteroles (oops)

fish with tomato sauce

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, glass of wine (oops), slice of menopause cake with tahini, fresh cherries, 3 squares dark chocolate

I am still struggling with portion sizes, i.e. giving myself too much… I didn’t eat the potatoes with my supper as the bit of fish was quite big and the amount of veg fills you up – which is testament to the logic of filling your plate half full with vegetables! Plus I was very hungry by supper. I think I should probably make sure I eat more for lunch as I’m trying to be ‘good’ which lasts till about 4pm, then I get too hungry and eat too much for supper and get tempted by things, like profiteroles and a glass of wine!

Plus I was, to be honest, a bit peeved about only losing half a pound this week, despite being, what I thought, was pretty restrained and it obviously wasn’t good enough and I’m a bit worried I don’t have it in me to see this through!

Leave a comment »

Day 14: Homemade Miso Soup

Today I tried making Miso Soup which I love when I go to Yo Sushi! There are sachets of miso soup mix that you can add hot water to and voila, a cup of miso soup, but I read about how easy it is to make you own on La Fuji Mama’s blog so I thought I’d give it a go.

Just to recap, the reason I want to eat Miso Soup at home is to try to up my intake of fermented soy, which is a good source of phytoestrogens, an essential part of treating menopause symptoms naturally – you can read more about that on my Day 5 post about Soya and my Day 12 post about phtytoestrogens.

Anyway, La Fuji Mama is right. Making your own miso soup is not difficult but I did find it fiddly and there is lots of different advice online about how much miso to add. I didnt get it right this time and I felt like I could fiddle about for ages trying to get the right proportions, so I think the ready made sachets will have to do for me in the future!

I salvaged my lunch by cooking some vermicelli rice noodles in the broth I had made and added some left over mackerel, cooked lentils and rocket (arugula). The result was a surprisingly nice asian style noodle soup!

So here’s my food diary for Day 14:

I am stil trying to get my head around the idea of filling half my plate with vegetables and thinking of the meat and carbs as ‘sides’. See more on this on my Portion Control post. The cabbage, mushroom and pepper stir fry took care of that nicely. I added soy sauce, sesame seeds, nutmeg, smoked paprika and mirin (japanese rice wine vinegar) – really good and some left over for lunch tomorrow!

Breakast: Menopause Smoothie

Lunch: Miso soup with rice noodles and leftover mackerel and lentils (a strange but surprisingly tasty mix!)

Dinner: Barbecue Chicken escalope, Rice noodles with cabbage, pepper and mushroom stir fry (with soy sauce and sesame seeds)

Cabbage mushroom & Pepper stir fry

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, Menopause Cake spread with tahini, Japanese rice cracker, Jaffa Cake, 3 squares dark chocolate

Leave a comment »

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 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.
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
Leave a comment »

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:

Leave a comment »