from Nigel Denby B.Sc (Hons), RD
leading Harley Street dietician, author and broadcaster
“There are more than 4 million women in the UK aged between 45 and 51 years who will experience the transition of menopause. I can say with confidence that it is likely a healthy diet and lifestyle will help maintain health in menopausal women regardless of, for example, their HRT status.
The good news is that concerns about weight, sweats, stress, mood swings, tearfulness and tiredness can be supported effectively by a healthy diet and lifestyle. You do not just have to grin and bear it.
Read on and good luck changing to a healthier, balanced and less erratic eating regime.
I suggest focusing on 2-3 changes at a time and make each one a contract with yourself.”
- Eat regularly – skipping meals will make it difficult to achieve your nutritional requirements or maintain a healthy weight.
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day for cancer and heart disease protective antioxidants and include low glycaemic carbohydrates at each meal including oats, pulses, grainy breads, pasta and other wholegrains like barley, cous cous and bulgar wheat. Eating low GL will help with weight control and mood swings.
- Eat some phytoestrogen rich foods every day such as soya milk, yoghurts and desserts, pulses like chickpeas or butter beans, soya and linseed bread and 2-3 servings a day is a good amount to aim for and may help reduce flushing and help lower cholesterol.
- Include 2-3 daily servings of low fat dairy foods or calcium enriched soya alternatives to keep calcium intake high and maintain bone density
- Eat oily fish at least once a week, and limit salt and saturated fat for a healthy heart
- Look at labels: The GDA labels on the front pf over 20,000 familiar supermarket foods help you to check, compare and choose the right foods for you – see www.gdadiet.com for more information
- Keep a watch on stimulants like caffeine (3-4 coffees/tea per day) and alcohol (less than 14 units/ week) and of course don’t smoke
- Take regular, moderate physical activity – walking, cycling, dancing are all great – aim for 30-45 minutes a day, this is vital for keeping weight under control
- Keep a healthy body weight and shape – aim to keep your waist measurement below 80 cm or 32 inches, and try not to go above a dress size 16.
- Try not to focus on one specific food or taking supplements – it’s the whole diet approach which will bring you the most benefit
- If you still feel a bit lost as to where to start, try keeping a food and activity diary for a few days, this will help you home in a few areas which need most attention.