Creating Your Perimenopause Plan

Nutrition

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If you need a reason to eat healthier, perimenopause is it. The healthier you are during these years, the more likely you will have an easier transition. (This is not just my opinion; it’s science.) Here’s the expert advice I’ve come across and have incorporated into my perimenopause plan:

Regular mealtimes All your hormonal systems are connected and driven by your body’s daily rhythms, so to support natural hormonal cycles the first thing you can do is make sure to have regular mealtimes. Try eating your last meal of the day at least 3 hours before you go to bed, and no snacking between meals (although I have found that a little protein snack of nuts about an hour before bed helps to not wake up starving in the middle of the night!).

Protein, fat and fiber Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of protein, (good) fats, fiber, vegetables and fruits that are full of vitamins and nutrients is something you should already be doing. But how can you up your game a little more during perimenopause? Focus specifically on PFF—protein, fats and fiber—to balance your adrenals and blood sugar, and help with muscle mass. Eat more protein – about .75-1g protein per lean body mass ~ 85-100g/day for a 130 lb woman. (Many of us are not getting enough as we head into menopause). For vegans/vegetarians: soy, almonds, pumpkin seeds, green leafy vegetables, beans, peas and lentils are some good protein sources. If you eat animal products, eggs and wild fish would be good to include as well. Examples of good fats include olives, avocados, nuts and seeds. Examples of high fiber foods include whole grains, greens, apples, brussels sprouts, broccoli, beans, squash, sweet potato and raspberries.

Watch the sugar, alcohol and processed foods And cut them out as much as possible. Take it from me, sugar and alcohol make the hot flashes worse, and can also be the culprits behind insomnia and weight gain. I know it’s hard to give up these ‘treats,’ but do your own experiment and see if it makes a difference to how you feel. Making sure to eat enough protein will also help to balance your blood sugar. FYI, from what I researched, breakfast is the worst time of day to get your sugar load, as your body processes it worst in the AM. So watch the cereals, breads, pancakes, sugar in coffee, orange juice, etc., and instead stick with proteins and good fats for breakfast.

Organic Foods Remember what I mentioned earlier about xenoestrogens and estrogen dominance? Here’s another plug for incorporating more organic foods into your diet. Non-organic foods may contain pesticides and hormones that act as xenoestrogens in your body, increasing your body’s estrogen levels.

Foods for Vaginal Health To help keep blood flowing in your vaginal area, try adding foods that contain citrulline (an amino acid) and nitric oxide which help improve blood circulation: watermelon, squash, spinach and other leafy greens, chickpeas, sour cherry, pumpkin, cucumbers, beets, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.

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Create Your Plan: Nutrition

*Document what you eat for a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner--including what times you eat each of these meals.

*At the end of the week, look over your list and figure out which unhealthy foods show up a lot that you want to cut back on, and which healthy foods don't show up enough that you need to add more of for your perimenopause nutrition plan.

*Is there anything you can do to make your mealtimes more consistent?

*Check out the Plant-Based Nutrition section of my Wellness Blog for some recipe inspiration!

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