A food expert has revealed what women going through menopause should eat to ease their symptoms.
There are over 34 different symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and every individual experiences these differently. The most well-known symptoms are hot flushes, night sweats, irregular periods, changes in libido, mood swings, vaginal dryness and weight gain. However there are some lesser-known symptoms including dry skin, hair loss, burning tongue and sore breasts.
Food expert and Ballymaloe chef Fiona Staunton says there are foods women can eat to help address many of these issues. She says women going through hormone changes should have some staples in their cupboard.
Read more: Dublin nutritionist wants people to ‘break the poo taboo’ and ‘normalize farting’
Speaking to Dublin Live she said: “The main key foods are phytoestrogens, they mimic estrogen in the body. They can be found in foods like soy, flaxseed, and lentils.
“Women in Japan have less menopause symptoms and they would eat a lot of soy and lentils.
“You want a nutritious balanced diet. You should watch your sugar levels, avoid processed foods, watch your portion control and make sure you’re eating like a rainbow, get all your vegetables in, omega free – from sardines and mackerels, and lots of nuts and seeds – good fats.
“Lentils are inexpensive, they’re really nourishing and tasty. They’re good for the wallet too. Whole grain carbohydrates last too – red rice, quinoa – those types of things.
“Oats are fantastic, you can bake them, make pancakes or make porridge, there’s so many things you can do with them. They store well and they’re not expensive.
“It’s important to eat the right type of food – so if you eat oats in the morning, it’s going to be a slow release of energy throughout the day, it’s better than a sugary cereal.”
Fiona spoke about other simple steps women can take to help ease their symptoms of menopause.
“You have to prioritize sleep. You need to get into a rhythm, wake up at the same time everyday and go to bed at the same. Fatigue and insomnia was so hard, but I’d take a nap during the day if I needed to.
“Magnesium is a great supplement, I try to get all my nutrients from food, but magnesium before bed can be so good.
“Exercise is important too because menopause puts pressure on your joints, so walks, squats and lunges can help. It doesn’t have to be an expensive gym.
“The fresh air and meditations are amazing too. A walk in nature can reduce stress. Finding joy in something, if you like reading a book then do that.
“Make sure you do one thing everyday that brings you joy, it might even be sitting down and watching the soaps.
“Be kind to yourself and look after yourself because you’ve spent so much time looking after everyone around you, it’s now time to look after yourself.”
Fiona believes that menopause also impacts on family, friends and colleagues.
She says that the issue is still a taboo topic in Ireland.
Perimenopause can start in your mid-30s and is a time where menopausal symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, hot flushes, insomnia, weight gain, loss of libido, mood swings, and brain fog can begin, according to Fiona.
She said: “Our parents’ generation, there was a lot of silence and shame about it. A lot of my peers age, mid to late 40s, and people still don’t feel comfortable talking about it.
“There’s so many people who were in heavy menopause and didn’t realize it. People aren’t knowing the symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, loss of energy, weight gain.
“In the olden days we used to just think it was hot flushes but there’s so many different symptoms and food and lifestyle can alleviate those symptoms and help you prepare for the storm of menopause.”
In a survey carried out by Fiona’s Food For Life, it found that 80 percent of Irish women said they felt unprepared for menopause due to lack of information surrounding the issue.
The survey that had over 600 Irish women respondents also found:
64 percent consider menopause to be a taboo subject in Irish society
40 percent said that they felt the availability of information on menopause in Ireland is ‘very poor’.
Almost one third of those surveyed considered Hormone Replacement Treatment (HRT) to alleviate symptoms of menopause.
Almost a third (30 percent) found their employer’s understanding of their experience to be poor
One quarter say they don’t feel comfortable discussing menopause with doctors
Nine of 10 (90 percent) knew little to nothing about the menopause experience before going through it
Fiona will combine her 30 years of experience, client feedback from previous sessions, along with her own personal experience as a mother of two who underwent early medically-induced menopause to educate women on the power of nutrients and a balanced diet in relief from perimenopause.
The 90 minute sessions will run every Wednesday evening from April 27th with recording options available.
The virtual menopause cooking program is one of many online series run by Fiona’s Food for Life .
read more: Ed Sheeran stops Vicar Street concert to help fan who passed out in crowd
read more:‘Art with a heart’ to support women leaving prison
Sign up to the Dublin Live Newsletter to get all the latest Dublin news straight to your inbox