The Perimenopause Diet: Must-Knows

Jan 29, 2020 | Fitness Over 40, Nutrition

It’s time to start getting real with your health.  We are going to start looking into factors that effect your weight, mood, lifestyle and yes talking about perimenopause & menopause can seem a bit taboo but as we mature we often want to bury our head in the sand and not face the facts.  Once we reach our 30’s our bodies are changing. It’s time to embrace that change, be equipped with the right information about your perimenopause diet & exercise and evolve into our 30’s, 40’s, 50’s with grace. Let’s rock this life together. 

Understanding perimenopause

Perimenopause is considered a precursor to menopause. This phase can last years before your period ceases for good. Although the length of time women spend in this transitional phase varies, the natural body processes at play are largely the same.

During perimenopause, a woman’s estrogen and progesterone start to fluctuate. Overall, these hormones levels are decreasing. Estrogen levels may go up and down a bit more before leveling out as your body settles into menopause. These natural hormone fluctuations of perimenopause can often cause different symptoms for different women.

Some common symptoms of perimenopause include:

  • irregular periods, which includes changes in flow or frequency
  • vaginal dryness
  • mood changes, including irritability or depression
  • hot flashes
  • night sweats, which may inhibit sleep

After you have gone 12 consecutive months without a menstrual period, you’ve reached menopause.

Although you can’t stop nature from taking its course, you can take this time to reflect on your diet and lifestyle habits. What you eat and do to stay active can help you live a happy and healthy life through perimenopause and beyond.

Lifestyle changes to consider as we reach perimenopause

Diet and lifestyle may not be a cure-all for everything that ails you. Still, the choices you make each day about how you eat and how you live can make a big difference in your quality of life. Focusing on the right foods and making the right choices can help prepare you for long-term health as you enter this phase of your life. You may even find relief from some of the uncomfortable symptoms that perimenopause can cause.

First, you should assess your overall lifestyle. If you smoke cigarettes, now is a great time to quit. If you don’t exercise regularly, now is the time to start. It can do your body a world of good.

If you haven’t trained for awhile start with a personalised approach with one-on-one personal training sessions.  Together we can work out a structured return to training approach and get you ready to join Bondi Vixen’s group fitness classes.  A balance approach including Strength, Cardio and Toning exercises will help your body tackle the changes your hormones are throwing down and help you maintain a healthy weight and feeling confident in your own skin. 

What to add to your perimenopause diet

What to add

  • Protein
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Fiber
  • Calcium

When it comes to healthy eating, it’s helpful to look at all the foods you should be eating versus the few foods that lack nutritional value. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy are all good choices.

Protein

Perimenopause is a time when your body is going through numerous changes. Because of those changes, your body could use a little bit more of certain nutrients. For example, your muscle mass starts to decrease during perimenopause. So you’ll want to up your daily intake of protein. Protein can assist in maintaining muscle mass.

With fluctuating hormones, balance is the name of the game. Protein can also help by regulating appetite and blood sugar levels. It may even help balance your hormone levels.

To get maximum benefits, ensure every meal has added protein. Instead of plain toast, top it with some peanut butter or scrambled egg. Add baked salmon or chicken to a salad for a protein boost at lunch. For dinner, beans are a great protein add-in for any number of entrees, including tacos. Make your own nut mix, with your flavor of spices, for a perfect anytime snack. Eggs, lentils, and yogurt are other great high-protein choices. For a quick protein kick add 1-2 serves of Athletix Whey Protein, 30 minutes after a workout and/or for your 3pm energy hit. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with decreased inflammation, as well as improved moods. Omega-3s have also been linked to decreased depression, which is something many women experience during perimenopause.

We recommend two servings of fish per week. You can also talk to your doctor or naturopath about taking fish oil supplements. Another option is adding flaxseed oil into your diet to combat mood swings and irritability.

Fibre

Fibre is another go-to during perimenopause. It helps keep you feeling full longer, which can curb cravings. This will go a long way toward weight-loss efforts, which can be especially tough as you age and your metabolism slows down.

Fibre has also been shown to decrease your risk of certain diseases of aging. These include heart disease, stroke, and cancer.

You should aim for at least 21 grams of fibre each day. Fruits and vegetables are a great place to find fibre. Whole grains and beans are also good source. In general, the more processed an item is, the less fibre it’ll offer.

Calcium

As you age, your risk of osteoporosis increases. To keep your bone health in check, up your intake of calcium to 1,200 milligrams daily. Vitamin D is also important in this regard.  A simple blood test with your doctor can let you know if you are Vitamin D deficient and supplements can be provided. 

What to limit in your perimenopause diet

What to limit

  • Saturated fats
  • Highly refined carbohydrates
  • Caffeine

No one wants to be given a long list of foods they can’t have, but let’s face it: Not all foods do your body good. In general, saturated fats from meat and dairy products increase your risk for heart disease. Choose lean cuts of meat and plant-based fats like avocado when you can.

Also limit highly refined carbs, such as white breads, pasta, and baked goods, to avoid blood sugar spikes and constant cravings. Substitution is an important factor here. For example, you can make it a habit to substitute whole grain brown rice for white rice.

Sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can exaggerate hormone symptoms, so limit these whenever possible.

What you can do now

As you enter perimenopause, there are a few things you can do to stay healthy and relieve symptoms:

  • Quit smoking if you smoke cigarettes.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat more protein, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and calcium.
  • Limit saturated fats, highly refined carbs, and sugar.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol.

In this phase of your life, your body will go through a number of hormonal changes. These changes may also be accompanied by symptoms such as hot flashes and mood swings. Eating well and being active can help make this transition as smooth as possible.

If you need help staying on track with the right foods Bondi Vixen has a number of clean eating meal plans on offer depending on your short term and long term goals.  Simply book in a Fitness Consult with Vix and let’s get you started. 

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