Menopause is getting much more attention in the press than it used to, once upon a time it was a subject to be kept quiet and never to be acknowledged in public. But slowly opinion is changing and women are more prepared to speak out. This means that there is now more information available to help us navigate, what can for some women, be quite a challenging phase in their lives.
Last week I attended a fabulous workshop - Wellness in the Menopause. This half day programme was put together by three inspiring women:
Janet Padfield from Apples to Zinc Nutritional Therapy
Chloe Leibowitz - Inspiring Women (Life Coach)
Jen Roach from Fearless in the Kitchen
They came together to provide a unique combination of support and advice during the menopause - based on nutrition and lifestyle.
This half day workshop took place at Jen's pretty cottage in the Berkshire countryside (see my post about her cookery classes here), it included a presentation from Janet and Chloe and a practical cookery demonstration from Jen finishing with a delicious healthy lunch and a chance to chat to everyone.
The focus of the day was very much on natural solutions and how we can help ourselves through nutrition and lifestyle. Janet (Nutrition and the Menopause) very clearly explained the processes, the myths and the symptoms (of which there are many and we are all different). Stress plays a huge part in how our body copes during menopause and a very good place to start with managing our symptoms is to address the stress. Once our ovaries stop producing oestrogen the adrenal glands take over and produce oestrogen (although not as much) so it is important that they are working really well and can take on this job efficiently.
The key areas we need to address are:
Stress and sleep
Environment and toxins
Next Chloe gave a presentation on mindset and lifestyle during the menopause. Unfortunately we are all guilty of focusing on the negatives rather than the positives and Chloe encouraged us to look at it differently and explained how different cultures view menopause. How a woman perceives menopause in her mind and how her culture views aging can have a huge impact on how a woman feels mentally and physically during this time. I was interested to learn that in our Western culture menopause is viewed negatively but in many cultures it is seen as a positive thing and often these women report far less physical symptoms. Certainly something to think about.
Chloe shared some really practical ideas on how to manage our lifestyles and create a positive mindset with suggestions for how to embrace the changes that our bodies are going through.
Finally, Jen from Fearless in the Kitchen gave us a cookery demonstration, sharing how to make some nutritious recipes that will really help our health during menopause.
Gut health is really important and Jen showed us how to make Sauerkraut - fermented food is really good for our guts and we should be including it in our daily diets. Jen runs a workshop that is dedicated just to fermented foods and gut health. This recipe was so easy! I will definitely be trying it at home. And no the stuff you can buy in jars at the supermarket is not the same!
Jen also demonstrated a pancake recipe using yellow pea flour which is really high in protein (and we should eat lots of good quality protein). I've made these at home and they are excellent. And a sunflower seed ricotta served with high protein seed crackers - this was absolutely delicious!
We enjoyed a few snacks too - we tried the sunflower seed ricotta, some apple and almond cake and tasted the pancakes.
Jen gave us healthy hints and tips throughout the demonstration and shared lots of ideas to make life easy!
Then we enjoyed a delicious lunch all made by Jen.
I honestly can't recommend this workshop enough. It really was enjoyable and enlightening. Janet, Chloe and Jen did a fantastic job at sharing their knowledge and offering non-HRT solutions! The menopause is a natural process that our bodies go through, it isn't a medical condition and it is possible to treat the symptoms without resorting to medical intervention. Of course that isn't always the case and everyone is different but nutrition and lifestyle is absolutely worth looking at first.
I have had a few messages from women who follow my blog saying they feel they have nowhere to go for support, unfortunately most GP's are not trained to help with the menopause and getting a referral to a specialist isn't always easy. If you do live near Berkshire then do get in contact with Janet, Chloe or Jen and sign up for their next workshop - they are hoping to run it again on a Saturday in March.
I would also point you in the direction of this excellent blog post from Dr Chatterjee - have you seen his programme Doctor in the House on TV? Dr Chatterjee is championing lifestyle changes to common medical problems and has written a very good summary about how to help yourself during menopause - take a read here.
The day was made even more fun by the fact that I met a lovely lady who has been following me on Instagram for a while now and when she read about my cookery day with Jen she decided to come along to this workshop - Jackie it was really great to meet you!
I left full of inspiration to cook a bit more and work on more ways to help myself.
And we got some lovely goody bags! Samples from Elemis courtesy of Sunrise in Marlow, a jar of Balsamic Fig Conserve made by Jen, primal pantry bars to try, herbal tea and lots of vouchers and special offers for follow-up consultations. We also got a copy of the slides from the presentations and lots of recipes from Jen so we can try them out at home.
For more details please visit:
Janet Padfield - Apples to Zinc Nutritional Therapy
Chloe Leibowitz - Inspiring Women
Jen Roach - Fearless in the Kitchen
I'll leave you with my top tips, my 'take-homes' from the day ...
Manage your stress - for every stressful moment in your day make sure you balance it with some me time, some time for recovery, like a hot bath, time to sit with a book, have a massage once a month maybe.
Work some sort of exercise into your routine - it has been proven that weight lifting is one of the best forms of exercise for menopausal symptoms but even just getting out for a 15 minute walk every day is a good place to start and will pay dividends for your health.
Eat well - start small, sprinkle flaxseed on your morning porridge or add it to yoghurt, include fruit or vegetables with every meal, eat more protein, minimise caffeine, sugar and alcohol. Don't overthink it just start incorporating a more nutritious appraoch into your life.
Supplements - there are many supplements that are promoted as good for menopause symptoms but it is best not to self-prescribe, I would suggest asking for advice from a qualified practitioner as there are lots of interactions with other drugs and it is best not to buy cheap - you get what you pay for.
Don't beat yourself up if you are not perfect! Start slowly, introduce a few simple changes and work on changing your habits but we all lead busy stressful lives and it is important to realise that we can't do it all at once. Be kind to yourself.
If you do decide to book onto their next Wellness in Menopause Workshop do let me know and mention where you read about it when you contact one of the ladies!
Fifty & Fab is all about my journey into and through my fifties, I share fashion, beauty, lifestyle and exercise/nutrition tips to inspire others to be fifty and fab too … join my mailing list below for regular updates and offers. And don’t forget to take a look at my social media pages Facebook Instagram and Twitter.