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As a ‘W.I.P’ perimenopausal woman I decided in early 2023 it was time to really focus on my nutrition and personally work with a Nutritional Therapist. 

Why?

Firstly, because I was looking for ‘sustainability’. Could improving my nutrition help me balance my busy life. I also knew my desire for sugar had a big impact on how I felt about myself, my sleep, and my anxiety levels. 

I followed a 3-month personalised programme that was about so much more than just nutrition. 

Let me clear one thing up – nutrition is not about going on a diet!

Before my own personal nutritional work and since that time, I am delighted to work with Rebecca Vincent to also support my clients and I will now leave the expert to provide you with a deeper insight. 

As a Nutritional Therapist there are 3 topics that come up time and again when I’m working with perimenopausal clients, or giving talks around the impact nutrition can have during perimenopause and menopause; sleep, foods that can trigger symptoms like hot flashes, and weight gain. In this month’s blog we are going to look at some simple changes that can start to help with each of these areas, and good news, there is one area that can help with them all!

Let’s start with the “negative”, foods that can potentially make symptoms worse and contribute towards things like hot flashes. These can be very individual, but common triggers include sugar, alcohol, spicy foods, ultra processed foods, and coffee (1). It doesn’t always mean having to completely cut these foods out, some people have what is called a threshold reaction, so if we are able to just decrease the amount and frequency of these foods, we can typically see a reduction in the frequency and severity of symptoms like hot flashes. It can be worth experimenting to see which of these you feel are an issue for you, to see where you might need to take action. 

I don’t like to focus on taking things out of our diet, our health is very much influenced by what we put on our plates, as opposed to what we are taking off the menu, so let’s focus on positive steps we can take to see benefits! 

There is one intervention I recommend to all my perimenopausal clients, working to balance blood sugar, and the reason for this is that when we go through the hormonal changes associated with menopause, we move towards what is called insulin resistance, which means that we aren’t as good at controlling our blood sugar as we were previously (2). In perimenopause this can contribute to struggles with memory, cravings, fatigue, mood, hot flashes, weight gain, and sleep (3), so you can see why this is my first port of call! 

Luckily there are lots of things we can do to help bring more balance to our blood sugar, here are a couple of my favourite tips (4):

  • Eat protein each time you eat – any snacks as well as meals – start by ensuring you have a decent protein hit at breakfast, which can traditionally be carbohydrate heavy.
    • Top tip: when wanting to enjoy a sweet treat try having it straight after a balanced meal with a good protein source, or if having as a snack have some protein FIRST (5), this can slow down the release of sugars and potentially limit kick back from the sugar – e.g. some plain nuts and then a couple of squares of chocolate – this tip is always a hit! 
  • Don’t eat too late – there is a lot in the media right now about intermittent fasting e.g. 16:8, 5:2, and there can certainly be benefit to extending the overnight fast a bit, but I advise my perimenopausal clients opt for an earlier eating window as opposed to pushing back breakfast, for example leaving 2-3 hours between your last food and going to bed.

These tips just scratch the surface, while they can certainly help a lot of women, and some find these are all they need, if you find they are not enough to help your particular struggles then please do not lose hope. There are lots of other things that can help, it’s just a case of working out what you need individually, we are all different after all! 

If you feel you need a more personalised approach to help, I offer a free 30-minute call to discuss your needs, available to book here: https://calendly.com/rebeccavincentnutrition/30min?month=2024-01

*Nutritional therapy is not a replacement for conventional medicine but can support our health as an adjunct intervention*

References available on request.

Rebecca Vincent BSc(Hons) mBANT rCNHC

Registered Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

www.rebeccavincentnutriton.co.uk

07515 019430

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