Each and every one of us is beautifully, wonderfully different; what makes a healthy diet for one may not work for another. “In its broadest sense, a healthy diet means embracing nature,” says Angelique Panagos, a nutritional therapist and hormonal health expert.
This means eating plenty of nourishing, whole foods. “I make sure my clients eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables; the more colour in your diet, the more vitamins and minerals you’ll benefit from. As well as this, try to focus on lean proteins, such as free-range and organic fish, eggs, chicken or pulses if you are vegan, complex carbs such as quinoa and sweet potatoes and good fats, which also include avocados, nuts and coconut oil.”
As well as following this basic diet, there are also a few things Panagos suggests that women who are going through the menopause try to include in their diets. “Certain plants, containing phyto-oestrogens, can help to support our bodies during this tricky period,” she explains. “These foods include flax and sesame seeds, white and black beans and pistachios, walnuts and peanuts.”
Panagos recommends you try to include a portion of these foods every day.
Many menopausal women are also low in iron, so it’s important to be tested if you think you may be at risk. “Good foods to add into your diet to boost iron levels include lean red meat, eggs, leafy greens (AKA my ‘Detox Warriors’), nuts and certain fortified foods,” says Panagos
Healthy bones are also a concern for women experiencing menopausal symptoms, and it’s important to tweak your diet to reflect this. Worryingly, women can lose up to 20 per cent of their bone density in the five to seven years after the menopause, which means that they are at greater risk of osteoporosis. “I suggest upping calcium intakes if you are going through the menopause, although always chat with your GP or a qualified nutritional therapist first to find out how much calcium is ideal for you,” says Panagos. “Calcium-rich foods include tinned sardines and salmon, broccoli and legumes.”
It’s also beneficial to eliminate certain inflammatory foods from the diet. “After all, we are what we eat!” she stresses. “Foods which spike our blood sugars definitely need to go, including pastries, cakes, white bread and white pasta. In fact, I advise steering clear of refined sugar wherever you can because this not only inflames the body, but also spikes our sugars, leading to dreaded muffin tops around our waist over the long term.
“Other pointers to avoid weight gain include saying goodbye to alcohol (this should be avoided wherever possible anyway - sorry to be a killjoy!), embracing exercise, and cutting back on overly processed and trans fatty foods,” adds Panagos “When we are going through the menopause, it can be easy to pile on the pounds. However, by following my tips and advice, you should be able to minimise weight gain and avoid that muffin top for good.”
Angelique Panagos’ book is The Balance Plan: Six Steps to Optomise Your Hormonal Health (£13.60, amazon.co.uk). For more information on Panagos, visit: www.angeliquepanagos.com