from Nigel Denby B.Sc (Hons), RD
leading Harley Street dietician, author and broadcaster
Cooking at any time can seem like a chore, The added pressure of trying to eat the right foods to be healthy can just make things worse. Here is some very practical help and information to make planning your food easier along with some everyday food and cooking tips for getting the balance right.
So, is there a Menopause diet? Well, no there isn’t as such, the bottom line is simply to eat a healthy balanced diet, but what does that actually mean?
Does it really matter?
We know that at menopause many women experience unwanted symptoms and it’s common for cholesterol levels to rise and bone density to reduce increasing the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis.
The good news is that most menopausal symptoms can improve with a good diet. Protection from chronic disease can be sought from the foods we eat and when it comes to keeping control of weight too, a well balanced diet and plenty of regular physical activity is the key to success.
Just like any other project, getting your nutritional house in order won’t just happen on its own. You need to think it through, get some action strategies and then turn them into reality before anything is going to change.
Keep a food and activity diary
Keeping a food and activity diary for just a few days is a great way to help you identify what needs to change the most. You might spot that you are relying on a lot of processed, convenience food, that you go nearly all day without eating at all, or nearly all week without so much as taking a walk. Be specific about what you would actually like to improve.
Plan meals and shopping
Let’s say you decide you need to eat breakfast, you want to eat more fruit and veg and rely less on ready meals – all sounds very sensible! But, how exactly is that going to happen? If you want to start having breakfast, you need to think about what you would like to eat – cereals, breads, yoghurts and fruit? More fruit and veg needs some thought too. Will it be fruit for snacks, more salad at lunchtime, or stocking up with frozen veg for evening meals? If you’re a ready meal fiend, it’s unlikely that you’ll turn into Nigella Lawson over night! Aim to cook one or two new recipes every week and then build up slowly.
Shop with a list
So many of us could walk around the supermarket blindfolded and still come out with the same things each week. If you need to buy in some new foods, don’t leave it to chance.
- Write a list
- Take it with you
- Buy what’s on it
If you’ve thought it through before you go shopping and bought the right foods – you’ve got a very good chance of actually eating them!
Healthy cooking method
Choosing the right cooking method can really help to save nutrients, calories and hassle.
- Steam or microwave green veggies to save vitamins
- Dry fry meats rather than adding oil to the pan
- Poach, boil or scramble eggs. Avoid frying
- Grill bacon, tomatoes and sausages
- Stir fry for a quick nutrient packed meal
- Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
- Reduce sugar in cake recipes by 1/3, or try using fructose (fruit sugar)