There are many times when being a woman feels like an uphill battle, but arguably none more so than when you start to experience symptoms of perimenopause.
If you are in your mid-forties and have found yourself waking up prickling with sweat or your periods have been come heavier and more erratic, then it is likely that you are transitioning through a stage in the female hormonal lifecycle known as perimenopause.
This period signals the natural end of menstruation and can last for several months or several years, with the average women experiencing perimenopause for 4-6 years.
While menopause is the end destination; a woman is considered menopausal at 12 months post her last period - perimenopause is the journey that you must go through to get there.
Symptoms vary between women but include:
Night sweats and hot flushes
Irregular and/or heavier periods
Insomnia and fatigue
Brain fog and forgetfulness
Unexpected weight gain
Loss of libido
Mood fluctuations and increased irritability
While the journey through perimenopause is inevitable and less than ideal, there are several steps you can take to help manage symptoms and reduce the impact that it has on your daily life.
Below are 4 tips to help you get started with powering through peri-menopause.
EAT A BALANCED DIET
A well-balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats can help reduce the onset and duration of symptoms, but adequate amounts of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre can make a world of difference in perimenopausal management.
Protein can help manage appetite and regulate blood sugar levels which can reduce irritability. It is also essential for maintaining muscle mass which starts to decrease during this time. It is recommended that you spread protein intake evenly cross your day – some great ideas for getting in extra protein include boiled eggs, high protein yoghurt and smoked salmon.
Omega-3’s have many benefits relevant to perimenopause, including reducing inflammation, boosting memory and mental clarity and improving mood. Good sources to include in your day are fish (twice per week is recommended), a handful of nuts and seeds or a drizzle of flaxseed oil on your salads.
Not only will fibre help keep you fuller for longer, but it will also assist in curbing cravings and reducing potential weight gain during this stage, especially relevant as metabolism slows during perimenopause. It also packs a powerful scientific punch in reducing the risk of lifestyle disease such as bowel cancer and heart disease. Nature’s garden is full of fibre so be sure to include a wide array of fruits and vegetables regularly.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Body weight exercise such as walking, hiking, reformer pilates and weight-bearing strength training can play an important role in not only managing perimenopausal symptoms such as disrupted sleep, fatigue and mood fluctuations, but it can also help reduce the risk of osteoporosis which becomes increasingly prevalent in women over 40 due to the associated drop in estrogen levels. Experts suggest maintaining 30 minutes of body movement per day to keep your joints well lubricated and assist with symptom management.
CUT BACK ON ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO
The notion that hangovers hit worse as you get older is due to reduced levels of alcohol dehydrogenases - the enzyme that breaks alcohol down into a non-toxic substance, but aside from this there are several reasons why alcohol intake should be controlled during perimenopause. Alcohol intake has been linked to increased occurrence of insomnia, inflammation, hot flushes and brain fog in perimenopausal women.
If you weren’t convinced to give up your sneaky cigs before, this might help you to change your mind. Nicotine wreaks havoc on your hormones by reducing circulating estrogen. This can not only lead to an early onset of menopause – by up to a year, but it can also cause an amplification of symptoms. In short, tobacco makes what’s bad about menopause even worse.
INCORPORATE REGULAR SELF CARE
As mentioned, one of the most common perimenopausal manifestations is through low mood and increased irritability and sensitivity due to the fluctuating hormone changes occurring within the body. A good way to combat these is to incorporate some regular self-care practices into your daily routine. This can include meditation and mindfulness, journaling or candlelit baths (bonus if they have magnesium flakes to help ease tension in the body). Find what works for you and commit to doing it on a regular basis – this will help keep your sanity, and those around you.
I hope you found these tips helpful in managing and reducing the effects of peri-menopause.
And, if you would like some help with managing peri-menopause, losing a few extra kilo's and/or increasing your energy levels perhaps a nutrition consult would be of benefit to you? To find out more Book a Free 15 Minute Nutrition Consult. Click here to book a FREE 15 Minute Nutrition Consultation