protein

Protein Powder – Why Choose Dust Over Food?

Protein powders are all the rage right now.  In every supermarket and health food shop, the choice seems to me to be overwhelming with all of them extolling their potentially miraculous results.  Some I acknowledge do sound healthier than others. The ones for instance that do not have sweeteners, synthetic fruit and chocolate added, but still, when did dust become a healthy food source?

I understand that in our high-speed, immediate gratification world, so wonderfully promoted through super clever marketing to re-enforce that we are time poor, such powders just might have some place occasionally in a balanced diet – but only the least processed and least added to (always remember to check out the ingredients list. The less ingredients, usually, the less processed), but still they are not a true alternative to any good whole food protein source that comes bound with fibre, vitamins and other health giving nutrients that our bodies not only need but know how to effectively utilise.

If we plan our food properly in advance there is very little need for protein powders and unless you are a super athlete, try to minimise their usage and fuel your body with real foods instead.

Remember that your body can’t store any excess protein anyway, so unless you need the extra boost  it is wasted.  Plus protein powders are so much more expensive and so much less tasty than whole foods – have you ever lusted over a plate of dust, the way you have over a gorgeous steak or salmon?

From the committed carnivore to the dedicated herbivore and for every group in between, there are options for fabulous, wholefoods proteins. To make it easy for you, I have included below a list of meat and vegetarian protein sources and their protein content so that you can make the best food not powder choices!

MEATS

Beef (6 oz.) – 54 grams

Turkey, breast (6 oz.) – 51.4 grams
Pork Chop (6 oz.) 49 grams
Turkey, dark meat (6 oz.) – 48.6 grams
Hamburger (6 oz.) – 48.6 grams
Chicken, dark meat (6 oz.) – 47.2 grams
Tuna (6 oz.) – 40.1 grams
Broiled Beefsteak (6 oz.) – 38.6 grams
Chicken, breast (6 oz.) – 37.8 grams
Ham (6 oz.) – 35.4 grams
Salmon (6 oz.) – 33.6 grams

DAIRY/EGGS

Cottage cheese (1 cup) – 28.1 grams
Yogurt, low fat (1 cup) – 10.7 grams
Skim milk (1 cup) – 8.3 grams
Whole milk (1 cup) – 8 grams
American cheese (1 oz.) – 7 grams
Soymilk (6 oz.) – 6.7 grams
Egg (1 large) – 6.3 grams

MEAT SUBSTITUTES, BEANS AND LEGUMES, NUTS

Veggie Burger (6 oz.) – 51.4 grams
Tofu (6 oz.) – 13.8 grams
Peanut Butter (2 Tbsp.) – 8.1 grams
Almond Butter (2 Tbsp.) – 7 grams
Lentils (1/2 cup) – 9 grams
Split Peas (1/2 cup) – 8.1 grams
Kidney Beans (1/2 cup) – 7.6 grams
Sesame Seeds (1 oz.) – 7.5 grams
Black Beans (1/2 cup) – 7.5 grams
Garbanzo Beans (1/2 cup) – 7.3 grams
Green Peas (1/2 cup) – 4.1 grams

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

Orange (large) – 1.7 grams
Banana (medium) – 1.2 grams
Green Beans (1/2 cup) – 1 gram
Carrots (1/2 cup) – .8 gram
Apple (large) – 0 grams

 

sweet

Sweet Potato Toast – the perfect bread alternative!

I am very good at food planning and prepping. I see and feel the benefits on every level myself, from the lack of food panic over what’s is/isn’t in the fridge when I am hungry, to my weight and health.  I feel the difference in my energy levels and overall sense of wellbeing very quickly if I have eaten rubbish.  Most of us do, but in our super high-speed world we are sadly not as tuned into our bodies and its needs as we could be. Plus of course, is it my passion to get clients to eat a healthy balanced diet that brings them all the health and weight benefits I know they can enjoy and that they deserve, but still sometimes I do get caught short.

This morning is one such instance.  I have had family staying for the weekend, a lovely, happy time, but also a time of total fridge depletion.  I often find that when I have guests, the foods that I always have prepared are dipped into purely out of interest to see what the “Mad Professor Food Aunt” (I am sure that it is said with love) has been working on.  Only trouble is, they don’t tell me and I don’t realize until I need to eat the “experiment”.

Today my homemade muesli is gone, along with my breakfast burrito filling and all my fruit salad with seeds and nuts.  Hey Ho! they had a good dose of nutrients and I love them so.

Meanwhile, I have no bread, I rarely do, I find it bloats me and make me sluggish, but I sometimes have half a bagel and they are gone too, so I can’t even have toast.  Or can I?  I do have sweet potatoes, I wonder what they will be like toasted? Here goes.

They are wonderful! Low on the GI scale (slower sugar release so no sugar slump),  packed with nutrients, slightly sweet and perfect with a buttery fried egg on avocado smash. Under 250 cals with avocado and fried egg topping, and with 11g of protein to keep you full, the “mad prof” has come through again! Check out this recipe, be bold and brave with your topping and try the latest toast to hit town.  Let me know how it goes.  Happy eating.

Ingredient

1 x Large Sweet Potato

Method

Slice sweet potato lengthwise into 2cm slices.

Insert slices into toaster (as you would bread) and toast on high. Check the sweet potatoes after it pops up from toaster. (It’s ready when you can easily pierce a fork into the flesh, it’s ready.) Continue toasting until tender, if necessary.

Keep a close eye until you have perfected your toast, if it browns too quickly , turn the toaster down.

Top with your avocado smash and buttery fried egg and serve immediately.

Mix Your Toppings Up 

  • tsp Tahini and sesame seeds
  • tsp peanut butter & sliced banana
  • tsp honey and sprinkle of mixed seeds
  • tsp marmite
  • tsp cottage cheese, sliced cucumber & tomato
banana

Banana Ice Cream – No Fat, No Sugar!

We all want to look and feel our best, especially in the summer months.  We can slather on the fake tan and get those little tops and shorts out, yes at 53 I am still (attempting) to rock my 23 year old self, and get our bodies out there soaking up those life giving, feel good rays and vital vitamin D.

There are fabulous healthy summer salads everywhere, and long cool drinks, that if we chose wisely – and I don’t mean that ice cold Rose every day – that help us on our way to looking and feeling amazing (Obviously I think one of the best ways to that end is for you to join my 6 Week Youtrition Group Program on my website.  Just saying…..)

However, healthy eating does not have to mean no sweet treats. Even though we know they really need to be small and occasional, the word “treat” is the clue and treat does not mean every day. Still, most of us would feel that is a little cruel. We want to enjoy our ice creams with the kids, or just by ourselves, but the shop bought ones, even the creamiest ones labelled “healthy” are packed with sugar and fat.

Have no fear though, I have the perfect answer and only one ingredient! Banana ice creams! You don’t even have to like the taste of bananas, with the toppings you don’t even need to taste them.  They are amazingly versatile, packed with nutrients, no saturated fat, loads of fibre to fill you up and I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t enjoyed my ice creams.  This recipe is taken from my 6 Weeks to Looking & Feeling Amazing Program and is the easiest ever recipe.

Banana Ice Cream

Banana ice cream is a fabulous, fat free alternative and one of my fav desserts. So quick and easy to make and so many variations

2 x chopped bananas, frozen –  that’s it!

Add frozen bananas to food processor/blender and blend for 3 minutes.  Keep stopping to scrape from the sides into the mixture.

Place in bowl and your done! Either eat immediately or return to freezer for a firmer ice cream.

Mix it Up, try

3 x chopped strawberries

1 x tsp honey

1 x tsp honey & 1x tsp pistachio nuts

1 x tbsp. caco powder

1 x tbsp caco & ¼ tsp peppermint essence (mint choc ice cream)

1 x tsp cinnamon

Small chunks of any fruit you like!

Serves 2, Cals 65, Carbs 13.6g, Protein 0.9g, Fat 0.2g

Give it a go, add some of your fav fruit and let me know how it goes!

easter

Easter Treats that Feel Like a Treat!

Easter is just around the corner, and the shops are filled with all sorts of beautiful indulgences with which to celebrate.  Some of these beautiful indulgences  can  make us feel wonderful and happy and loved and those life enhancing feelings will stay with us for probably 10 days. Others we can treasure for life. So much to look forward to.

However, does that sound like your Easter treat?  For most people, probably not.  Why is that?  What is your Easter treat?  Is it a superficial and purely commercial shop bought Easter egg packaged to entice all ages and stamped with an absolute 100% guarantee of  the sugar rushes that will leave you feeling rubbish for at least one day and hug your waistline like the most ardent lover for the next few weeks?  Those sort of  Easter treats can make even the healthiest of us feel sluggish, stuffed and with a horrible sticky taste in our mouths, no matter how many times we clean our teeth? What sort of “treat” is that!

With YOUtrition, it’s all about thinking differently.  I cannot remember the last time I ate or was bought an Easter egg.  I do however remember last Easter, the one before that and even further back because of the wonderful treats bought/made for me by my son.

I still have the beautiful handmade Easter cards, saying on not very straight lines (who cares!), “I love you mummy, Happy Easter”, and the Easter chicks made from cotton wool balls and dyed a frightening yellow.  Later he progressed to shop bought cards, just as precious, with lovely verses he had obviously read in advance because they applied to our lives, often with photos of us and our dog stuck in – how utterly precious these still are.  And then of course the beautiful daffodils.  Always a bunch of sunshiny daffs on Easter Sunday.

Can you imagine how these true treats make me feel?  I know the mummies among you will, and it would also take the most hardened sugar addict to also not be affected.

So, my message is clear.  Ask your family in advance for something different this year.  Guide them gently to the card shops, point out the glorious spring flowers everywhere and let them know that at this second (or maybe third, after Christmas and Mother’s Day), most commercial time of  they year, that the things that would give you most joy are not the ones you put into your mouth and enjoy for 10 minutes then feel despondent about and regret for days later, but the pure joy of a homemade card or non-food gift or, for me my absolute favourite, a beautiful simple bunch of spring flowers.

Happy Easter!

 

looking

Looking and Feeling Your Best For Summer on YOUtrition’s 6 Week Group Program!

Looking & Feeling  Your Best  for Summer with YOUtrition – I make simple changes that work in your life easy and fun, REALLY!

Testimonials

*I have counted calories for over 16 years and nothing has worked for me before, but you do. Thank you!*

*Sonia, I love you and now I love me. I know I can stick with this, its me!*

With my YOUtrition program,  6 Weeks to Looking & Feeling Your Best For Summer, I understand that the great, easy, tasty recipes you will get from me are not enough.   The tips on planning & prepping whilst vital, will get you to where you want to be, but maybe not keep you there.

I address both the “why” of our food choices and eating habits as well as the fabulous food.  My uniqueness lies in my 25 year drug & alcohol addictions.   For so many years I  was beyond desperate to be different and knew what I should be doing but just couldn’t stick with it.  Now at 53 years old, in the menopause (suffering no symptoms because of my way of eating) at 5ft 8, and weighing a steady 9st 7lbs, I do it easily.  This experience and my incredible strategies for long lasting change are what I do differently and what I share with you on my programs.

A one hour group session once a week for 6 weeks.  The group dynamic creates an excellent opportunity to work through what is and isn’t working for you and to find a way around an obstacles – believe me, as a group, we always find a way.

  • Professional, individual, qualified nutrition & weight loss support and information – this is no franchise diet club run by an unqualified rep!
  • A basic food plan – recipes and tips.
  • Every week a new breakfast, lunch and dinner recipe along with snack ideas –  based around the group’s needs, abilities and time constraints.
  • A shopping and meal planner
  • A food diary to keep with you and keep you motivated.
  • Professional exercise advice.
  • Strategies around food and your lifestyle that you build on over the 6 weeks, giving you confidence in yourself and your abilities and literally giving you the tools to set you and your food choices up for life.
  • Access to a private What’s App group message that I write on every day and that you can also contribute to.  This ensures you stay on track long after the program has finished.
  • A one-off  Maintenance session 4 weeks after the Program ends, to see how you are doing and to reinforce the program.

I create a powerful and non-judgmental environment where you are given the recipes, the motivation and the absolute support you need to create new habits.  New habits take six weeks to form, hence the length of my program.  Every week you will sit, in a small group, talking through what worked for you and what didn’t, receive at least one new recipe and in a truly supportive, encouraging space we work to find what’s right for YOU!  Not me, not the person sitting next to you, YOU!  We laugh, occasionally we cry and we clap a LOT.  We don’t just focus on the weight, we focus on the “why” of the weight and find the way forward for you.


I preparing for my Summer programs for the areas local to Beaconsfield, High Wycombe and Slough, so please contact me for more information and to reserve your space!

The cost of the 6 Weeks to Looking Great & Feeling Great is £100.

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smoothie

Smoothie, Power Up Your Body With Nutrients And Keep Calories Down

This morning, whilst I am at home getting ready for my busy day I am loving a smoothie for breakfast.  A gorgeous alternative meal (and I do mean alternative, don’t have a meal as well!),  that took less than 5 minutes to blend and, even though I am always prepared in advance with a healthy meal and snack in the fridge, sometimes I just feel like something different, maybe a little more indulgent that I can sip away at on the way to my next client or at home in front of the computer whilst I work.

And this is where smoothies become king.   A healthy smoothie can provide you with essential vitamins, fibre, healthy fats, protein and minerals and are an easy way to nourish your body as well as being a fantastic aid to weight loss.

Quick and unstressful to make, there is no need for the shop bought variety which are expensive and can have very high sugar content. The best way to know the exact ingredients in your smoothie is to make them yourself. All you need is a blender, leafy veg, a small amount of fruit and a base, such as water, milk or yogurt. Smoothies don’t need much planning in advance. These are the basics and from this start point, anything you like goes, literally.

The healthiest smoothies are packed with fibre, protein and healthy fats – think avocado, nuts and seeds.  Delicious to taste they are a godsend on a busy day, or after an indulgent night before or weekend.  They are a great way to re-balance our bodies and pump in the nutrients we may have missed out on and to keep your calories down.

Beware though of the not so healthy smoothies, even homemade ones.  These are the ones packed mainly with fruit and although fruit is fantastic in terms of antioxidants and vitamins, it does need to be eaten in moderation due to the high sugar content.  I want your smoothie to keep you full so that you don’t need to snack between meals, and don’t create a massive sugar spike then slump which will leave you craving more sugar.

The best proportion for any smoothie to keep you full and satisfied is 3/4 veg and the last quarter made up of fruit, healthy fats and water – if I do add avocado or nuts, I use water instead of yogurt to keep the fat and calorie content lower.

So here is my smoothie recipe for this morning, and as I said before, I didn’t plan it, I just had the ingredients to hand,  and literally anything you like goes.  Be brave, mix it up.  Like any new recipe, taste it and then add a little more sweetness in the form of an extra strawberry, a little more banana, or ramp up the intensity by adding a pinch of chilli or small amount of ginger.

Breakfast Boost

1 x handful spinach.

1/4 avocado.

2 x tbsp oats.

¼ x beetroot.

½ x small banana.

1 x strawberry.

½ cup water.

Serves 1, Cals 200.

Blended all together and its done.  If you like a little looser add water to achieve the consistency you like.  Just look at the nutrients involved here, the vitamins, fibre, protein and healthy fats.  This is a total powerhouse of a meal in one delicious drink.

Looking Great & Feeling Great For Christmas

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.  I wonder how many of us are feeling the same way!  With six weeks to go, would you like to lose that persistent 7 – 8lbs and look and feel your very best come Christmas Day?  It really isn’t too late with the right food information, planning and the key to weight loss – motivation and support.

My Looking Great & Feeling Great for Christmas is the answer. It’s tried, it’s tested and it works.

It follows the YOUtrition ethos of simple, easy foods, planned and pre-pepped in advance that will nourish your body with the nutrients it needs whilst ridding you of the excess weight that spoils your day. YOUtrition also works to remove the food and financial stresses  involved in making foods that the whole family will eat.  YOUtrition is not a diet.  It is a lifestyle, with a mix of recipes, tips and strategies  that work for life.  Really work.  Plus you get my expert support and encouragement along the way whenever you need it.

Here are some of my most recent testimonials.

“The ongoing gentle yet targeted support has ensured that my food choices are in line with my decision to lose weight. And this has helped me to start shifting some long-standing excess pounds. Can’t recommend YOUtrition enough”

Mrs P Zet

“I didn’t think making healthy food could be this easy.  I can’t even really call it cooking.  I am never hungry and there is always something to eat in the fridge that moves me forward.  Why has it taken me so long to think this way?  Where have you been Sonia? I love me and I love you”

Mrs A Brunds

I’m so happy! biggest loss for a long time in one week -2.8lb and down to 11st 6.6lb. I haven’t been below 11 and a half stone for about 4 and half years!”

Mrs S Doyle

“6lbs in three weeks and one week I wobbled a bit.  Yipee.  Thanks Sonia for getting me back on track, your words of encouragement made all the difference”

Ms S Elliott

My Looking Great & Feeling Great For Christmas program is £30 and comes with a Food Diary booklet for you to slip into your bag which will motivate and keep you on track.

reset

YOUtrition 7 Day Body Reset Programme

Reset your body to looking great, feeling great and losing weight in just 7 days and find a solution that works for you in your life.  Weight loss really can be that simple!

Everyone wants a quick fix when it comes to, well everything, especially weight loss.  The reality is though that it took time to get to the weight that makes you unhappy and it takes time to lose it and rest your body.  However, the time to lose the weight does not have to be long or hard, or stressful or leave you feeling deprived and fearful that the weight once lost will creep up and find you again.

I designed my YOUtrition 7 Day Body Reset Programme as a fantastic jump start to looking great, feeling great and losing weight,  to prove just how easy it is to get on track within 7 days, simply by making adjustments not just to our food choices and eating habits , but to our preparation and planning, which once you have completed the 7 days and realise how much time and stress you have saved as well as really seeing and feeling the difference, you will stick with quite simply because it is the long term workable weight loss solution.

Included in the YOUtrition 7 Day Body Reset Programme are simple tasty meals that are interchangable on any day.  There are my YOUtrition Top 10 Tips for Looking Great, Feeling Great and Losing Weight, which can be applied to literally every situation. Just read them, you will understand immediately the reason for them (and that in itself makes them easy to follow and stick with), tips on food, movement, portion sizing  and the all important and extremely poweful MINDSET – without the right mindset and thinking differently about your weight loss, this could become another quick fix for you –  you will still lose the weight, but I want it to be for you for life!   Take that absolutely on board and you have taken a massive step towards overcoming your weight loss challanges.

There is also a YOUtrition Food Diary in an easy A5 booklet for you to slip into your handbag. With four weeks to complete and tips to keep you motivated and on track with food choices, portion sizing etc, this is a very, very powerful motivational tool (mindset) which you keep with you all the time.  It is amazing how this one little book motivates clients forward and accountable for exactly what and how much they eat. There is also a Meal Planner for you to complete and take with you shopping.  Plan you meals in advance.  I take one hour out of my week to complete this, list the foods I will need and then go shopping. Stick to it! Don’t be lead astry with offers of food products – these are the very products are what got you to this unhappy state.  Keep in mind always your goals and only buy the foods on your shopping list. These are the foods that will take you closer to your looking great, feeling great goals.

Finally, you will get a 15 minute Skype/telephone consultation with me, ( I am a fully qualified specialist in weight loss and nutrition who has published articles  and also presents a radio show on health & fitness),  before you start the Programme to make sure you understand exactly what you need to do and for me to address any questions you have and to set you up motivationally for success, plus I can be contacted for support during the week and another 15 minute consultation at the end to keep you on track.

The YOUtrition 7 Day Body Reset Programme is flexible within its guidelines, so if you don’t like one type of food in the menus, I can simply and easily swap it out.  This programme really is tailored for you so that you can get the most out of it and stick with the principles for life.

Testimonals

” I am 55 years old, in the middle of the menopause and was feeling rubbish.  I didn’ expect much from this programme but was desperate enough to try anything and  I can’t believe how I feel.  I lost 6lbs, am sleeping better, my horrible how flushes have almost gone and my clothes are looser especially around my waist.  Best of all I was not hungry and didn’t miss any of the stuff I usually ate to make myself feel better.  I know now that was the stuff that actually make me feel worse”  Thank you Sonia for making me look and feel so much better.”                                     Meg Elliott, 55

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“I lost 5lbs the first week and I feel so good.  The programme is straightforward and easy to follow and it made sense.  Sonia is so funny , supportive and knowledgeable and I felt I was talking to a friend who wanted the best for me.  I have continued to plan my meals and this has saved me so much time and money,  I think differently about myself and my food and it is liberating which means even more to me than the weight.  I am well on my way to looking and feeling the way I deserve to be (Sonia’s words and my feelings).  One very happy lady.”   C Adams, 44

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“I wanted a quick fix for my holiday and my goodness I got one.  I expected to feel hungry and rely on willpower and neither happened.  I love the way Sonia thinks and talks and the support she gave me.  I don’t like oats so she changed two recipes and I live by myself so she changed the evening meals for one person.  Sonia understood me and I felt I was the only person she cared about and I now keep the top 10 tips with me as well as my food diary and my weight keeps going down and my self esteem and confidence going up”                                                 Sue Moore, 42

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Follow the Programme and success really is guaranteed!

YOUtrition 7 Day Body Reset Programme £50.00

veggies

Veggies, The Not So Secret Answer to Great Health & Weight

Veggies can sound like the dullest part of a meal.  However, there is so much we can do to literally spice them up, and in terms of weight loss and great health, they are heaven sent. To kick start your weight loss, try for one week portioning your plate out like this – you won’t regret it.

½ Veggies or Salad – make it colourful and fill this portion of your plate FIRST!

¼ Protein

¼ Healthy carbs!  Healthy carbs are not white or fluffy or overly sweet.  They include WHOLEMEAL (not brown) everything.

  • Choose a wide variety of veggies and steam them lightly to keep as much of the nutrients as possible.
  • Be brave and try new ones. Keep them colourful.  The greater the variety in colour, the wider the variety of nutrients eaten.
  • Low carb veggies include broccoli, cabbage, aubergine, pumpkin, courgette, asparagus, and butternut squash. All veggies are nutrient powerhouses!  Be creative with your veggies.
  • Add chilli flakes or sauté with garlic and onion or cherry tomatoes.
  • Add spices such as fennel or turmeric.
  • Dress with a very small amount of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  • Toast some pine nuts and toss in.
  • A small sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on any veggies is delicious, but keep this small and occasionally.

See how many options you already have?  Try these two fabulous alternatives to pasta and just look at the calories.

Courgetti

Ingredients

280g Courgettes

Method

Use a spiralizer – I used the finer noodle attachment – or a julienne peeler to create courgette noodles.

Toss in a pan with one teaspoon of olive oil for 30 seconds.  Done!

Serves 4, per 71g serving

Cal 25, Fat 1.3g, Carbs 1.2g, Fibre 1.4g, Protein 1.3g, Salt 0g

Butternut Squash Noodles

Ingredients

600g Butternut Squash

2 teaspoons Olive Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 200. Lightly spray two large baking trays with oil.

Trim the top portion of the butternut.  This is the only part that can be spiralized (reserving the bottom for another recipe).

Trim the top off and peel the skin off. Cut the butternut in 2 pieces so it’s easier to handle, then spiralize using the thickest noodle setting of your spiralizer.

Cut into 6 inch lengths so it’s easy to eat.

Transfer to the prepared baking sheets and drizzle each with 1 teaspoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. Roast until soft, 7 to 10 minutes.

Serves 4, per 152g serving

Cal 78, Fat 2.1g, Carbs 11.2g Fibre 3g, Protein 1.7g Salt 0.02g

 

 

 

 

menopause

The Menopause – Symptoms & Relief, Nature’s Way

As women mature and the menopause looms,  it can become harder to lose weight.  But we really don’t need to accept this as our lot.  Although there is a tendency for women over 40 to gain up to 2lbs per year, it is more likely down to the fact that we move less and our general activity levels drop rather than from hormonal changes and the slowing of our metabolism.  That is not to deny that hormonal changes, particularly the lowering of estrogen as we enter the menopause, can change the way we store fat particularly round our trunk.  Hence the dreaded thickening waistline.  So what can we do to keep these excess pounds away?

It is important to acknowledge that the tried and tested quick fixes of our 20’ and 30’s are gone.  Our bodies just don’t respond in the same way.  Personally I love this. It means that any changes we make will need to be long term for the weight to stay lost and so we give up on the “diets” and make the food and lifestyle changes that lose the weight and benefit both our physical and mental health.

A couple of years ago, in the height of my embarrassing hot flushes and sleepless nights – the ones that left me looking and feeling like a wrung out tearful shadow of myself, I started investigating why some women suffer so much and others seem to sail through (maybe they actually didn’t, but if they were feeling like me, they surely deserved an Academy Award for hiding it!).  I started to read about cultures where the effects of the menopause where unknown.  Initially I wondered if this was maybe down to embarrassment and under-reporting on the part of the woman of these cultures, but even female health care professionals there had never heard of “hot flushes”. Why?  Here follows a brief description of the changes in our bodies during the menopause, please bear with me, I expect most of us know this, but still, I do have a reason for writing this……

When we stop ovulating our need for estrogen drops off dramatically. We do still produce some estrogen but in much smaller quantities in our adrenal glands and adipose tissue (fat cells).   The menopausal symptoms we come to dread, the hot flushes, sleepless nights, mood swings etc. are simply the result of our bodies being in withdrawal.  We don’t tolerate the drop in estrogen because in our Western diet of high fat, low fibre, we are accustomed to much higher levels of this hormone than our bodies ever needed. Basically we are going cold turkey!   Our bodies really struggle to re-equalize this balance and so we swing from one feeling to another.

So, that’s the science.  Now my response as a weight loss specialist and nutritionist and someone who cares passionately about women’s health and wellbeing.

During the menopause, as with all natural bodily functions, there is a natural diet based solution, which even if it does not completely alleviate all the symptoms, definitely makes them more manageable because our hormones become more balanced.  In the instance, the re-balancing is achieved by eating phyto-estrogens (plant based estrogen), antioxidants and essential fatty acids, along of course with cutting out the foods that work against them.

The highest sources of phyto-estrogens are soy, lentils and chickpeas – don’t panic though, this is nowhere near as dull as you might imagine.  Whilst it would be great to up your intake of these, the list of phyto-estrogen foods is long and varied and includes, seeds, nuts, grains, many vegetables and fruits (which also include the antioxidants) as well as herbs and spices.  Along with some healthy fats, think salmon, avocado, eggs and a little lean red and white meat, you can see that your daily diet won’t be dull but will go a long way to reducing your symptoms.

So these are nature’s menopause helpers.  What about its saboteurs?  They include excessive caffeine and alcohol, sugar in its processed form and refined wheats, salt and excessive meat protein intake.  I say meat protein specifically as vegetable protein (quinoa for instance is a complete vegetable protein), as meat protein seems to take more calcium from our bones which can make us more vulnerable to osteoporosis.

Also, whilst it is vital to maintain calcium intakes during the menopause, dairy sources of calcium can have high saturated fat content so should be limited to one to two servings a day.

So, armed with all this information, I made some really easy changes to my diet.  I upped my phyto-estrogen foods and minimized my processed/caffeine and sugar.  And I kid you not, I do not have any symptoms at all now!  Truly, I have gone from changing my sheets at least twice a week to the much more normal once.  My energy levels and mood are right up there and I still have my waist (not so much maybe, but it is still there….), plus, and for me most importantly, my so precious sleep is back on track.

Obviously there will be some ladies who say, “I do all this and I am still really suffering”.  My heart really goes out to you and please see your doctor in case there are any other underlying issues, however in the main these changes do work and will benefit every aspect of your life.  Dare I say it, here’s to a happier, more manageable menopause! x