Perimenopause is a wonderful opportunity to shift your focus towards preventative health. As you draw closer to menopause and your final menstrual period, bone loss accelerates and risk factors for cardiovascular disease increase. The nutritional practices you put into place to support your health through perimenopause will continue to nourish you in your postmenopausal years.
1. Fuel yourself adequately throughout the day
Ensure your body is receiving enough nourishment, and that this nourishment is distributed across 3 wholesome meals each day. There are no clinical trials for perimenopause and fasting or time-restricted feeding (we don’t have evidence to support those approaches). Hot flashes, night sweats, and waking in the night can be triggered by long periods of overnight fasting and blood sugar drops between meals.
2. Get adequate protein throughout the day
In order to maintain muscle mass as we age, we need to consume 1.2-1.5 grams of high-quality protein per kilogram of our body weight per day. Furthermore, this protein intake should be evenly distributed across the day to aid with energy levels, satiety, and blood sugar regulation. For many people this looks like 25-30 grams of protein at each meal, but please work with your Naturopathic Doctor to determine your individual protein requirements.
- 4 ounces wild salmon = 29 g
- 3 ounces chicken breast = 26 g
- 3 ounces turkey breast = 26 g
- 2 large eggs = 12 g
- ¾ cup Skyr icelandic yogurt = 20 g
- protein powder
- ½ cup lentils = 9 g
- ½ cup black beans = 7 g
- ½ cup pinto beans = 6 g
- ¼ cup almonds = 7 g
- ¼ cup walnuts = 5 g
- 3 tbsp hemp seeds = 10 g
3. 25 grams of soy protein 3-5 times per week
Soy isoflavones help alleviate hot flashes, night sweats, and mood symptoms, and support bone and cardiovascular health. If feasible, try to purchase soy products that are non-GMO and organic. normal period is
25 grams of soy protein looks like…
- ¾ cup tempeh
- ¾ cup extra-firm tofu
- 1 cup soft tofu
- ⅔ cup dry roasted soybeans (soy nuts)
- 1 ¼ cups edamame (immature soybeans)
Other sources of soy protein include…
- soy milk (8 g protein per cup)
- tofu yogurt (9 g protein per cup)
4. An abundance of vegetables and fruit
I know you know this! Consuming a diverse array of vegetables and fruit will support your long-term health in every way imaginable. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Vegetables in particular should be the pillar of your meals, making up 50% of your plate/bowl.
5. Healthy fats with every meal
Our overarching goal is to prioritize mono- and poly-unsaturated fats over saturated fats, and to try to avoid trans fats altogether. Trans fats are found in margarine, vegetable shortening, fried/fast foods, and baked/packaged foods (listed as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening” on product labels).
Examples of mono- and poly-unsaturated fats…
- Wild caught cold water fish
- wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, mussels, rainbow trout
- Nuts & seeds
- walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, hazelnuts
- freshly ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds
- nut/seed butters
- Olives, extra-virgin olive oil
6. Prioritize complex carbohydrates over refined grains and simple sugars
Examples of complex carbohydrates…
- whole grains: brown rice, steel-cut oats, barley
- legumes: lentils, black beans, pinto beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, green peas, edamame
- starchy vegetables: squash, yams, beets, carrots
Reduce your simple sugars and white flours by making swaps such as…
- swapping white bread for whole grain bread
- swapping white rice for brown rice
- swapping white pasta for whole wheat or legume-based pasta
- swapping boxed cereal for oatmeal or muesli
7. Be mindful of alcohol and caffeine consumption
Alcohol and caffeine are common triggers of hot flashes and anxiety, and negatively impact our sleep quality. Although it may feel like alcohol lessens anxiety initially, it actually worsens anxiety over a 12-24 hour period. Be mindful of how you feel after having alcohol or caffeine. Consider a 1 week trial in which you have only 1 cup of coffee daily, consumed by 10am, and don’t have any alcohol at all – does this shift any of your symptoms?
For additional information on perimenopause, I invite you to read about the hormonal changes and common symptoms of perimenopause as well as the menstrual cycle changes to expect.
If you’re struggling through perimenopause, if your PMS symptoms are impacting your quality of life, if you’re concerned that you aren’t ovulating regularly, book a free 15 minute meet & greet and let’s figure this out together.
**Please remember that this article is meant for educational purposes only and should not be viewed as medical advice. You should always discuss any treatment option with a licensed healthcare provider to ensure it will be safe and effective for you.
Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash