Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to be talking about five surprising menopause food problems.
The problem with the menopause is all sorts of things can change, and that can include our sense of taste and the way our digestive system reacts to food.
So, today, I'm going to look at some symptoms that you might not necessarily have connected to the menopause and can sometimes be quite surprising.
1. Your food can taste different
We all have certain food preferences but you might find that, during menopause, you just can't stand the taste of food that you really used to love. You might also find that certain smells put you off food now, or you might find that your appetite tends to change or even decrease.
Falling oestrogen can affect the mucous membranes in the mouth. That can affect your taste buds directly so that your sense and taste of sweet, salty and sour things can alter. And that means that the taste of very specific foods can be completely different to what you've been used to.
You also might find you start to get a metallic taste in the mouth, and this can very often indicate that you're low in zinc. Zinc is a very important mineral during the menopause and, as our nutritional needs increase, if you're low in zinc, that can have a direct effect on your taste and also your smell.
If you find that your smell has decreased, and you can't smell as much as you used to then, again, that particular combination might mean that you need to take something like a zinc supplement on a daily basis.
Falling oestrogen can also make the mouth drier so you're not producing enough saliva. This can make it more difficult to eat certain food and, again, the dryness will affect the taste. If this is the case, then you can look at a supplement called sea buckthorn oil, which is really good for dryness of the mucous membranes anywhere in the body.
2. You can have food aversions
The second problem is that you might just find that you've suddenly gone off certain foods that you generally loved and really enjoyed. Again, the taste might just actually make you feel sick and nauseous.
In fact, a lot of women feel that they get sick during their menopause. It's a bit like pregnancy. You can get a sort of morning sickness, and that in itself can cause problems with your appetite.
You might find that you just can't face eating because, every time you have something to eat, you start to feel the nausea rising. In this situation, nausea very often tends to indicate that your liver's a bit under pressure. I've done a couple of articles on liver health and what you can do to support your liver, so please do have a look if you think this might be relevant for yourself.
Drinking a couple of cups of ginger tea on a daily basis might be very helpful. Maybe have just a small cup, about half an hour before you sit down to eat, just to help to calm the nervous system and your digestive system down. You can also look at milk thistle. This a nice combination of herbs that can help to support and improve the liver.
3. You might have food sensitivities/intolerances
You can find that certain foods will now start to upset you. You might find that, after eating certain foods, you end up getting itchy skin, or serious indigestion or heartburn.
You might find that, generally, you tend to bloat up a lot more than you used to. And, very often, the bloating will occur at night just because of all the food that you've been eating during the day. A lot of women tell me that they get up in the morning and they can do their jeans up – but, by the time night-time comes, they feel a lot of pressure around the lower abdominal area.
Very often in the menopause, you can become slightly intolerant to carbohydrates. So, this would be things like your bread, pasta, maybe white rice, and breakfast cereals. So, in this case, it can be a good idea (especially if you're getting the bloating, indigestion and wind) to have a food diary and to write everything down that you're eating. That will be a good indication and can show you if you're consuming an awful lot of carbohydrate foods.
You know, if think about it, you might have cereal for breakfast, you might have a biscuit mid-morning, you might have a sandwich for your lunchtime, and then you have pasta for dinner. That's basically carbohydrate overload and that can be enough to cause a lot of food sensitivities.
It can get quite serious, too. If you end up having a gluten intolerance then that means wheat, oats, rye, and barley can all be a potential problem for your digestive tract.
4. You could experience food cravings
This is such an important one. If our cravings get really out of hand then that can contribute to weight gain. The problem here isn't just about not having enough self-control, and so many women are beating themselves up about this because their sugar, carbohydrate, and sometimes salt cravings get completely out of hand.
You know, it's not just about eating one biscuit. Suddenly, you realise the whole packet's gone or the whole box of chocolates have gone. This can happen because your blood sugar control becomes much more erratic as you go through the menopause. So, you can get very quick dips, and what's happening here is your body is going into survival mode.
Your body thinks there's a serious famine going on when your blood sugars dip too low and that will make you crave sweet things to get your blood sugar back in control. So, this is not about being weak-willed or not having enough self-control here. You are fighting your body's own natural instinct to survive, so this is a very, very real situation.
If you're getting serious cravings then one of the best things to do is try and go on a low-carb diet. The fewer carbs you have, the less your body will crave them because it's the carbohydrates and sugars that are making your blood sugar levels go up and down. So, if you can, go on a low-carb diet.
You should also make sure that you are getting enough protein with every meal, and that you're getting healthy fats. These are one of the best things to stabilise your blood sugar levels. And I know a lot of women start to panic and think, "Oh, if I eat fat, it's going to make me fat," but it's the overconsumption of carbohydrates in the menopause that very often contributes to weight gain. A small amount on a daily basis can actually be a great thing to keep everything well under control.
If you are getting a really serious salt craving, very often that can be an indication of something called adrenal fatigue. This is where your nervous system has just become completely overwhelmed. Usually, this will be accompanied by severe panic attacks, really poor sleep and things like palpitations as well.
The best thing to do is to maybe Google adrenal fatigue and natural ways of fixing it, because you need quite a lengthy, complex process to get this back under control. But, again, it can make a huge amount of difference.
Research also shows that, if you're craving salt, it could mean that you're low in other minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium. This is really common in the menopause. If your nutritional needs are going up, you need more of everything. So, in this case, you might find that our Balance Mineral Drink can be really helpful because this contains a nice little shot of calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium just to help to keep everything well under control here.
If you find the cravings are emotionally linked – if you find that when you get extra upset or stressed, you tend to reach for the chocolate, biscuits or wine – we've also got our lovely Craving Essence, which can help with the emotional side of the cravings.
5. Your food can trigger symptoms
Finally, certain foods can actually trigger certain menopause symptoms. We know that caffeine can very quickly trigger headaches, palpitations, hot flushes and sweats. High sugar consumption, so that sticky bun or doughnut mid-morning, can be enough to trigger these symptoms as well.
So, if you find that you're getting symptoms of, say, hot flushes or headaches at roughly the same time every day then, very often, there is a connection to the food that you've been eating. And it tends to be maybe one to three hours since you've eaten the food that it will have an effect on your body.
So, again, a food diary can make a huge amount of difference. And, once you know if it is something you're eating that's causing your symptoms, you're going to be much more in control of helping to keep those at bay.
So, I hope you find this one interesting, there are certainly some unusual things that pop up during the menopause. If any of you have had any strange food, dietary or taste issues, then please let us know. And, if any of you have managed to sort your cravings with anything in particular, again, we would really love to hear that.