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Mar 21, 2022 Diet & Nutrition Movement & Exercise Recipes Wellness Tips Hayley Derwent 5,660 views

According to a survey done by the Jean Hailes For Women’s Health in 2018, the top 5 health topics that women want to know about are:

    1. Weight management
    2. Healthy eating / nutrition
    3. Mental and emotional health
    4. Anxiety
    5. Menopause (1)

So, let’s delve into these briefly…

Weight Management

This is one issue that affects women around menopausal age. Often the weight comes on quickly, and when you haven’t made any dietary or lifestyle changes. So what is the reason?

The truth is, that there isn’t one single reason why a person is putting on weight (or not losing weight). Some of the reasons include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Insufficient exercise
  • Medications
  • Toxins in the body
  • Hormonal changes

There are different ways that these causes of weight gain can be addressed. Book in to speak to one of our nutritionists or naturopaths to discuss your reasons

 

Healthy Eating / Nutrition

There is so much information available these days that it is difficult to know what is right for you. The best thing that you can do from a nutritional perspective is to eat as naturally as possible. Try to eat food that comes from a farm rather than from a factory.

You can download our free recipe eBook from our website for some delicious recipe ideas.

If you are after more specific advice for yourself, book an appointment with one of our nutritionists or naturopaths. We talk to you over the phone, so it can be done anywhere!

 

Mental and Emotional Health

Some common emotional symptoms of menopause include:

  • Mood swings
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty retrieving words
  • Loss of memory
  • Fatigue
  • Depression (2,3)

This rollercoaster of emotions (mood swings, irritability, sadness, etc) can play a big part in our lives. While there is the option of medications or hormonal treatments during this time, there are some lifestyle changes that can help to improve symptoms as well.

  • Improve your sleep or rest more often. Introduce a bedtime routine, make sure the bedroom is dark and at a comfortable temperature, turn off the Wi-Fi in the house.
  • Diet can impact anxiety & mood swings. Minimise packaged and processed foods and try to reduce refined sugar intake. Aim for a large variety of vegetables and 1-2 serves of fruit a day.
  • Increase your physical activity. Exercise can help with your mental health as much as your physical wellbeing.
  • Pursue supportive friendships. Talking about how you are feeling with friends and loved ones can help unburden your emotional load.
  • Connect with community – join a community group, start some volunteer work.
  • Learn to relax and be mindful. Try yoga, meditation, journaling (writing down your feelings) or breathing exercises.
  • Prioritise yourself. Look after yourself by doing the things that you enjoy (exercising regularly, doing your hobbies, learning a new skill, cooking, sewing, gardening, painting or art).
  • Find a counsellor or qualified mental health professional if you feel that you need more help than your social relationships can provide. (3, 4, 5)

 

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” (1)

Mental health is important in order for us to think, feel emotions, interact with others, earn a living and enjoy life. Without optimal mental health, we are not able to live life to the fullest.

You can optimise your mental health through diet and lifestyle.

Dietary changes:

  • Today’s western diet has been linked to higher risk of anxiety. To combat this:
    • Eat as many whole foods as possible
    • Try to eat organic, where possible – have a look at the dirty dozen & clean fifteen These are lists put together by the Environmental Working Group which give a summary of the amount of pesticides on fruits and vegetables. The dirty dozen is the list with the most pesticide residue, while the clean fifteen is the list with the least amount of pesticide residue.
    • Eliminate packaged foods containing preservatives and additives
  • Stabilise your blood sugar:
    • Decrease sugars and refined carbohydrates
    • Include protein regularly throughout the day to feed the beneficial gut bacteria
  • Include a wide variety of fruit & vegetables for nutrients needed to make neurotransmitters
  • Remove caffeine as it can act as a stimulant
  • If suggested by your healthcare provider, an elimination diet might be helpful to improve your gut and mental health. This is done by removing foods that may be affecting gut health (eg. gluten, dairy, eggs, sugar, soy, corn)
  • Repair the gut – include probiotics & prebiotics, glutamine, bone broths, fermented foods

 

Other things that can help include:

  • Weighted blankets – to help with anxiety and sleep
  • Meditation – to help reduce stress levels
  • Yoga – to reduce stress and help strengthen the body
  • Exercise physical activity has been linked to lower levels of depression
  • Spend time in nature – spending time outdoors in green spaces can help to lower stress and anxiety.
  • Ensure quality sleep

 

Anxiety

Symptoms of anxiety can vary greatly depending on the individual, the type of anxiety, and the situation prompting the anxiety. Some of the symptoms that may indicate anxiety include;

Psychological/Emotional Symptoms

  • Persistent worrying or anxiety about issues that are out of proportion to the impact of the events
  • Overthinking plans and solutions to all possible worst-case outcomes
  • Perceiving situations and events as threatening, even when they aren’t
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty
  • Indecisiveness and fear of making the wrong decision
  • Inability to set aside or let go of a worry
  • Inability to relax, feeling restless, and feeling keyed up or on edge
  • Difficulty concentrating, or the feeling that your mind “goes blank”

Physical Symptoms

Some people may also experience panic attacks due to anxiety. Panic attacks can occur at any time and usually last for more than a few minutes, often characterised by shortness of breath, sweatiness, a racing heart, chest pain, nausea, and numbness or tingling. Other symptoms include a sense of impending doom or danger, fear of dying, depersonalisation, difficulty concentrating, choking, or trembling.

Menopause Anxiety Remedies

There are a range of remedies that can address menopause-associated anxiety. Some of these solutions are pharmacological and will require consultation with your doctor to determine the best approach for you.

Some possible treatments include;

  • Hormone therapy
  • Antidepressants
  • Psychotherapy, such as cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT)
  • Dietary supplements and vitamins

 

Other possible menopause anxiety remedies are within your control. These options are well worth trying out before resorting to other methods;

  • Addressing your diet – symptoms can be worsened by caffeine and alcohol intake, while complex carbohydrates can help steady emotions
  • Exercise – even gentle exercise can release endorphins, helping you relax and reducing stress
  • Relaxation techniques – taking time for activities that calm and relax you can be incredibly valuable for treating anxiety, whether it’s going for a walk, listening to music, or visiting the beach
  • Sleep – deep sleep naturally relaxes our bodies and minds
  • Positivity – maintaining a positive attitude can help keep anxiety and depression at bay and becomes easier with practice.

 

 

Menopause

You’re in the right place here! Our team of doctors, clinical assistants, patient care consultants and nutritionists and naturopaths are just a phone call away and are here to help. Contact us on 1300 883 405 to book a  no obligation free first consultation and discuss your concerns with one of our doctors.

 

References

  1. 2018, ‘Women’s Health Survey 2018’, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, viewed 9 March 2022, https://assets.jeanhailes.org.au/Research/Womens-Health-Survey-Report-2018.pdf?_ga=2.142803830.274772051.1646793708-394084312.1646793708
  2. Carter D, 2001, ‘Depression and Emotional Aspects of the Menopause’, BC Medical Journal, 43(8): 463-466, viewed 13 September 2020 <https://bcmj.org/articles/depression-and-emotional-aspects-menopause>
  3. Dieker A, 2018, How to Manage Emotional Changes During Menopause, viewed 13 September 2020 <https://bloodandmilk.com/how-to-manage-emotional-changes-during-menopause/>
  4. Dresden D, 2017, What causes mood swings during menopause?, Medical News Today, viewed 13 September 2020 <https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/317566#Overview>
  5. 2017, Menopause: Mental Health and Emotions, Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, viewed 13 September 2020 <https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/menopause/mental-health-emotions>

 

About The Author - Hayley Derwent

Hayley is a holistic nutritionist whose vision is to inspire and educate patients about food and lifestyle to positively enhance their health and wellbeing. She provides a safe and caring environment by listening, teaching and supporting people and working in partnership with them to strive towards good health and happiness.

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