Dietary Strategies in Managing Menopause

By: Red Hot Mamas

Published: June 2, 2010

Is it hot enough for you? Does August feel like an inescapable oven? If so, slaving over a hot stove and cooking are the last things on your mind. If hot flashes are dragging out your summer, you may want to rethink the menu for your next barbeque. When it’s too hot to do anything, you may need a little inspiration to prepare a sweat-free meal. Beat the summer heat and cool down your kitchen with these menopause-friendly tips.

The ABCsss of Meno-enemies

In the battle against hot flashes, it is good to know your enemies. The first step to winning the “power surge war” is to distinguish the good foods from the bad ones. Our enemies are the foods that aggravate our menopause symptoms and therefore should be minimized or avoided all together.

Alcohol- Relaxing with a refreshing alcoholic beverage is OK but avoid drinking more than one or two. Alcohol can trigger hot flashes. Try a “virgin” frozen beverage or smoothie instead.

Butter- Butter, summer and hot flashes do not mix well. Who wants a lot of the fat that goes along with butter anyways? Substitute olive oil or a delicious herb infused veggie oil instead.

Coffee- Say goodbye to Juan Valdez. Avoiding hot flashes includes harnessing your addiction to caffeine. If you need your “jolt” in the morning, try an herbal tea or iced tea instead of the addictive, jittery diuretic.

Salt- Leave salts for soaking in the bathtub. Salt can trigger some serious hot flashes, high blood pressure and other health complications. Substitute herbs or nonsodium seasonings for your salt.

Spices- Add some spice to your life that is milder than the more stressful ones like black pepper and salt. What about the old standbys of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme?

Sugar- Yes, sugar is sweet but when it comes to hot flashes, it can quickly turn your day sour. Opt for the more natural sugars found in fruits and juices instead of grabbing the big bag of white sugar in your pantry.

What’s Good for Me?

A well-rounded diet rich in phytoestrogens, vitamins and minerals will do the trick! Instead of barbequing greasy burgers on a sweltering summer evening, toss out a line and try some fish. Fish is loaded with omega-3 oil (meaning it’s heart healthy). Fish oil and omega-3 fats can reduce vaginal dryness and depression. Also, fish is high in magnesium and Vitamin E which can relieve hot flashes, fatigue and depression.

Can’t help but to reach for the cookie jar? Avoid the chocolate chip cookies (remember, sugar AND butter are hot flash triggers). Opt for some fresh, cooling fruit instead. Fruit is loaded with nutritious vitamins. Nourish your skin with vitamin A found in fruits like papayas and apricots. They work to lessen the effects of aging on the skin. Reduce stress with vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Chill out and let the blender do the work. Virtually any fruits can be added to make a delicious summer smoothie.

AHOY, SOY! Force your hot flashes to “walk the plank”. Soy-rich eating may help prevent hot flashes in menopausal and postmenopausal women. Soy provides hormones to your body that it no longer manufactures after menopause. Phytoestrogen, a plant chemical found in soy, helps to combat the symptoms of menopause. It also helps fight breast and other cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis. You no longer have to live in the Far East to obtain the benefits of soy as it is readily available at natural food markets and some grocery stores. Some forms of soy are tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soy beans, soy flour, frozen soy garden burgers, soy sausage, and soy hotdogs.

Broccoli-Tofu Stir-Fry

This simple meatless stir-fry has a subtle yet addictive sauce. To cut preparation time, use precut broccoli florets. They’re near the salad greens in the supermarkets.

1 (3 1/2-ounce) bag boil-in-bag brown rice
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups broccoli florets
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons bottled minced garlic

Cook the rice according to package directions.

While rice cooks, combine soy sauce and the next 4 ingredients (soy sauce through sesame oil) in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu, and sprinkle with salt. Cook 8 minutes or until golden brown, tossing frequently. Remove tofu from pan, and keep warm. Add broccoli, water, and garlic to pan. Cover and cook 4 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Uncover; add soy sauce mixture and tofu, stirring gently to coat. Cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Serve the broccoli mixture over rice.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup stir-fry and 1/2 cup rice)

NUTRITION PER SERVING

CALORIES 451(17% from fat); FAT 8.3g (sat 1.4g,mono 2.6g,poly 3.8g); PROTEIN 16.2g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 87mg; SODIUM 581mg; FIBER 4.4g; IRON 2.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 78g

From: Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2001

Soy is one of the most healthful foods on earth and has an impressive array of health benefits. It’s a tremendous source of protein, minerals, and vitamins and it’s a very versatile food which can be incorporated into your diet.

Soy is one of the most abundant sources of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen (phytoestrogen) that acts like real estrogen in the body. Many doctors agree that soy is an excellent alternative for menopausal women who do not or will not use hormone therapy.

In summary, there are important strategies that can help menopausal symptoms. Modifying lifestyle and diet can minimize many of these symptoms. We can gain control over how we respond to menopause by taking a closer look at our eating habits, exercise patterns, drinking habits and managing our weight. It’s never too late to change and formulate a foundation for good habits. The consequence will be good health, less menopausal symptoms and renewed energy.

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