The menopause is a natural event in a woman’s life and you can use foods that Nature provides us in order to help you go through this transition easily and comfortably, controlling many of the symptoms of the menopause including hot flushes, night sweats, dry hair and skin, tiredness, memory loss, mood swings, aching joints and also weight gain.
We are aiming to include foods (like phytoestrogens) in your diet that help to balance your hormones as you go through this change, to include essential fatty acids (that we get from nuts, seeds, oily fish and eggs) in order to keep your body, skin, hair, joints lubricated and soft and antioxidants which not only slow down the ageing process but also can help to protect you against cancer and heart disease. All the recipes are balanced to keep your blood sugar level which not only helps with increasing energy but also reduces mood swings, anxiety, tension and irritability, symptoms which can increase around the menopause. And having stable blood sugar not only reduces your risk of problems like Type 2 diabetes but will also help you lose weight which may start to creep on at this time in your life especially around the middle of your body. None of the recipes even the desserts contain added refined sugar so that you have a sweet treat without worrying about your waistline.
Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring substances in foods that help to balance your hormones. These are found in legumes such as soya, lentils and chickpeas and also in some seeds like flaxseeds (linseeds) and can help to reduce hot flushes and night sweats by up to 50%. Essential fats are also included in these recipes, because not all fat is bad. Essential fats ‘oil’ your body by lubricating your joints, skin and vagina as well as keeping your brain functioning well and they help you maintain a good metabolism. There can be a tendency to gain weight at the menopause, especially around the middle, because this is your body’s protective mechanism to increase the amount of oestrogen circulating in your blood stream by producing it from your fat cells. Essential fatty acids can increase your metabolic rate which means that you will burn up more fat and store less fat as you go through the menopause. Some weight problems can simply be due to water retention and Omega 3 oils can help your body produce a hormone-like regulating substance which enables your kidneys eliminate excess water. These same substances can help keep your blood pressure normal and decrease inflammation in your joints.
Free radicals are produced through our normal process of living as well as from pollution and too much exposure to the sun. It is these free radicals that have been linked to premature ageing, cancer, heart disease as well as those brown patches (‘liver’ spots) that can form on the skin. Fortunately Nature provides us with protection against these free radicals in the form of antioxidants. In order to get a good supply of antioxidants you need to eat a wide variety of fruit and vegetables which are included in these recipes.
So these delicious recipes will not only help you through the menopause comfortably but also help you lose weight.
Homemade Luxury Muesli – this recipe is packed with many nutrients and has a good balance of protein (nuts and seeds) and unrefined carbohydrates giving it a low GI, keeping your blood sugar balanced and helping with weight loss. It has good levels of phytoestrogens for hormone balance as well as natural fibre which helps with blood sugar balance and lowering cholesterol. The nuts and seeds supply essential fatty acids and the apricots are rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene and the oranges, apples and pears provide you with good amounts of vitamin C which helps in the manufacture of collagen to keep your skin and bones healthy.
Posh Porridge – oats are excellent at helping to control cholesterol but also have a low GI. Cinnamon is also included which is good for balancing blood sugar and helping with weight loss. The dried fruit is an excellent source of antioxidants and the soya milk provides good levels of phytoestrogens.
Eggs Florentine – Eggs are actually very good for you, they are a first class protein so help with weight loss and also the yolk contains good levels of Omega 3 fatty acids which are important for your metabolism, skin, hair and joint health. Eggs are also low in saturated fats. The eggs yolk also contains lecithin which helps lower the risk of heart disease by preventing plaque from accumulating in the arteries. Phytoestrogens are in good supply from soya.
Tofu Vegetable Quiche – this quiche is an unusual way to serve tofu (a phytoestrogen) and makes an interesting change. It is full of healthy ingredients, including not only the tofu but also tahini and broccoli. Made from sesame seeds the tahini is a good source of calcium which is important for your bone health. The balance of protein from the tofu, and tahini with the wholemeal tart gives a low GI lunch which is important for weight loss.
Herring with Oatmeal – Herrings are an oily fish so are rich in Omega 3 fats which are important for boosting metabolism and also have an anti-inflammatory effect in your body. The oatmeal also has a phytoestrogenic effect to help with the menopausal symptoms but also contains good levels of fibre which not only help with your weight but also help to control cholesterol.
Lentil and Fruit Pilaf – lentils are a wonderful source of phytoestrogens and this combination of the protein from the lentils and brown basmati rice gives a good low GI lunch for weight loss. It also includes cinnamon for blood sugar control and also almonds which have been linked to helping blood sugar and also give a good amount of protein and also essential fats. The dried fruit gives good levels of antioxidants.
Storecupboard mixed bean and tomato casserole – this dish is brilliant when time is short of an evening. This is a very warming and nourishing dish and there are plenty of phytoestrogens from the beans and the miso broth. The seaweed flakes provide vital trace minerals like iodine and selenium which are important for thyroid function and a healthy metabolism to help with weight loss. The tomatoes provide excellent amounts of the antioxidant lycopene which is good for both heart and eye health.
Roasted nut-coated cod with a lemon vinaigrette dressing – both the miso broth and parsley produce good levels of phytoestrogens to help with the menopausal symptoms. The nuts together with the flaxseed (linseed) oil provide good levels of essential fatty acids for your metabolism, skin, hair and joint health and also help to slow down the ageing process.
Banana cream pie – this seems like a wicked pie but does not have the usual cream or refined sugar. The filling is set with agar which is a seaweed which contains trace minerals like iodine and selenium which are good for your metabolism. There is no added refined sugar in this dessert just maple syrup which does not have the same negative effect on your blood sugar or weight that refined sugar does. So you can have a lovely dessert without the guilt!
As featured in Woman’s Own September 2012