Perimenopause is the time between a woman’s reproductive years and menopause. Perimenopause can begin anywhere from a few months up to 10 years before menopause. The average age for perimenopause is about 47. Symptoms of perimenopause can be hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings/depression/anxiety, forgetfulness, insomnia, loss of libido, dry skin and hair, joint pains, bloating, or weight gain. The reason these symptoms occur is that the ovaries produce less estrogen. Interestingly enough, women who have suffered PMS or postnatal depression in the past have a higher risk of developing these symptoms, as they are likely more sensitive to hormonal changes. Women often notice shifts in their metabolism and feel what worked for them in the past is no longer effective. Here are five nutrition tips to take into consideration during this time:
EAT A HIGH PROTEIN BREAKFAST:
Breakfast is the most important time to get a good amount of protein into your day. It’s very common to see women eating yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, fruit, OR nothing for breakfast. Most of these contain little to no protein. But a little tweaking of these meals can make them high in protein. High protein sources are eggs, fish, meat, beans, nuts, and seeds. When pairing these common breakfast meals with a protein, it has been shown to significantly impact satiety hormones, energy, and well-being throughout the day. Aim for 20-30g of protein at breakfast.
FOCUS MORE ON STRENGTH TRAINING:
Strength training is highly encouraged as we age, as it helps with our metabolic health, which declines as we age. Strength training also protects against osteoporosis/ osteopenia, diabetes, and heart disease.
DON’T DRINK CAFFEINE ON AN EMPTY STOMACH:
Coffee is not a meal! Drinking black coffee on an empty stomach has been shown to cause an increased blood-sugar response in some people. This spike can cause stress, sweating, low energy and mood, anxiousness, and hunger throughout the day. We don’t need caffeine alone to keep us going. We need fuel and energy, which come from a balanced meal.
EAT PLENTY OF CRUCIFEROUS VEGGIES:
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, radish, kale, and turnips have anti-aging properties along with anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial benefits. These vegetables contain a lot of fiber which helps us eliminate and excrete toxins. The compounds in cruciferous vegetables converted to diindolylmethane (DIM) in your stomach have been shown to lower cancer risk by regulating estrogen metabolism and activity. Regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables is also associated with a lower risk for cardiovascular disease and decreased chronic inflammation.
BALANCE YOUR BLOOD SUGAR:
Avoiding extreme blood sugar peaks and drops can also counteract many of the frequent side effects of perimenopause, like slower metabolism, frequent cravings, reduced insulin sensitivity, mood swings, and even hot flashes. Having balance at meals and snacks is what promotes blood sugar balance. Aim for incorporating protein, fiber, and fat at every meal and snack.
FOCUS ON MORE WHOLE FOOD VS. PROCESSED FOOD OPTIONS:
The more nourishing food you eat, the better you will feel. Making a conscious note of how you feel after eating is an excellent way to shift to more whole foods as you notice how your body feels.
Cody Giovannetti, RDN, LDN, IBCLC, is a Registered Dietitian specializing in GI issues, thyroid dysfunction, prenatal/postpartum nutrition, autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome, nutrient deficiencies, food sensitivities, hormone imbalances, and more.