Today on A.Vogel Talks Menopause, I'm going to look at six ways to eat better.
So, over the last few weeks, I've looked at good and great foods for the menopause and also bad foods for the menopause.
But did you know the way in which you eat your food can have an impact as well? Eating the wrong way can affect your digestion, and it can contribute to symptoms such as indigestion, bloating, wind, and cramping. So, having good eating habits can help your digestion and help you to get the best from your food.
And we know that we really need plenty of good nutrition from our food at this time, as we go through the menopause.
1. Eat little and often
My first piece of advice is to have smaller meals. This is good for several reasons – if you have a huge gap between meals, this is going to affect your blood sugar levels and that can contribute to things like flushes, palpitations, headaches, and brain fog.
Also, if you have meals that are too big, this can really stress your digestion. The whole digestive process takes a lot of energy and I'm sure we all know if we have a really big meal, usually about an hour or two after, we get this kind of energy slump. And, if you have that every day, you're really going to struggle with things like fatigue, which seems very common, especially around 2:00-3:00 in the afternoon.
2. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly
Remember to eat slowly. This is so important. If you chew your food really quickly, large lumps of food end up in the stomach. Your stomach has to use an awful lot of energy to break them down, and this, again, can cause indigestion.
It can cause the bloating, and it can make you feel as if food is sitting in the stomach for a long, long time. The rule of thumb here is to try your best to chew each mouthful 20 times. And you'll often find that eating really slowly will help you to eat less.
3. Never eat on the run
If you are active, the body just can't digest food. So, if you're running between appointments, or if you're really busy at work and you're just grabbing something for lunch, and eating it and chewing it very quickly, you're going to end up with things like indigestion.
The food isn't going to get broken down properly, and you're going to miss out on all the really good nutrition that you could have had from that particular meal.
4. Sit down to eat your food
It's important to sit down properly when eating. You know, I can always remember as a child my parents saying to me, "Sit up at the table with your elbows back," and I'd always think, "I don't want to do that!"
But it's really sensible. Your stomach needs lots of room in order to move properly because the stomach grinds your food up. So, if you're sitting all hunched up (if you're sitting at your desk, or if you're sitting watching the TV), then your stomach can't work properly. That will affect your digestion and, eventually, that will affect your absorption of nutrients, too.
5. Drink less with your meals
If you drink too much whilst you're eating, you will dilute your digestive juices. And one of the things we know that can happen during the menopause is that you can end up producing less stomach acid to start with. So, if you then dilute that further, you can end up getting gastric reflux, you can end up getting indigestion, and you can end up getting stomach pains.
Sometimes, you find that you might end up getting a shooting pain up the left side. And this is all to do with the fact that you're not having enough digestive juices in order to break your food down properly.
And, if the food's not broken down properly in the stomach, that will have an impact right the way through the whole digestive tract.
If you must drink whilst you're eating, then just have a small glass of plain water. This can be either warm or hot water, but preferably not cold because that can shut your digestion off.
Wait an hour after eating and then have a proper drink, that's absolutely fine. Or, if you want to drink before a meal, then do so at least half an hour before you sit down to eat.
6. Don't eat a big meal late in the evening
Remember, I've talked about how a big meal will really stress your digestive tract. If you have a meal a few hours before you go to bed, the energy that's needed to digest everything is going to keep you awake.
So, your evening meal really should be quite a light meal. And a lot of women find that, if they have their main meal at lunchtime, then they can have a lighter meal in the evening which can have a really beneficial effect on how you go to sleep, as well as your sleeping pattern right through the night.
Other menopause diet tips
Here are some other tips that can help you eat better and ease digestive issues during menopause:
Take bitters: If you are finding that you're getting a lot of indigestion, or a little bit of acid reflux, we have a lovely remedy called Centaurium.
Bitters are great. And you will find that, in a lot of Mediterranean countries, the first starter of the meal is a plateful of salad bitters. It's a fabulous idea. So, it's things like endive, rocket, and even things like fennel leaves as well. They're really lovely because these bitters start to implement the digestive process so they can really help.
If you don't fancy a little salad before every meal, then you could certainly look at the Centaurium.
Never let yourself get too hungry: If you leave big gaps between meals, you're causing problems for your blood sugar levels. But, the hungrier we are, the worse judgments we make on the foods that we eat.
And, when you're really hungry, very often you grab the first thing, which is not often the most healthy.
So, I hope you've enjoyed these last four weeks on food and menopause. If any of you have found really good tips to help with your digestion, to help with your diet, or foods that you found have been really helpful, then please share them. I would love to hear from you.