The Hormone-Balancing Diet

Besides having to experience all the typical symptoms, many perimenopausal women find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight. One cause may be the body's need to hang onto fat during menopause, as it gives off estrogen.

To make maintaining weight easier, Dr. Christiane Northrup has created the Hormone-Balancing Diet. This plan will help keep hormone levels even and keep you happier, both physically and mentally.

  • Eat at least three meals a day: Skipping meals or "saving calories" causes your metabolism to slow down. Your body stores the food you do eat as fat. Start every day with a healthy breakfast to jump-start your metabolism. And follow up with a well-rounded lunch and dinner, and even a small, wholesome snack in between if you're hungry.
  • Eat protein at every meal: Studies have shown that eating protein boosts metabolism more than eating fat or carbohydrates. Good sources of lean protein for perimenopausal women include eggs, fish, chicken, low-fat dairy and soy.
  • Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables: Try to fit in five servings a day. That may seem like a lot, but a serving of vegetables is only four ounces, or about half a cup. Stick to brightly colored produce most often, as it contains the most powerful antioxidants.
  • Eat healthy fats each day: It may seem like an oxymoron, but healthy fats do exist and they're very important in perimenopause. Your skin, hair, nails and nervous system will all benefit from the healthy fats found in fish, eggs, walnuts and soy.

Dr. Northrup also recommends increasing your intake of

  • Soy
  • Water
  • Flaxseed
  • Bioflavonoids (They sound scary, but you can find these powerful antioxidants in cherries, cranberries, blueberries, grapes and whole grains.)
  • Green tea
  • Calcium

And decreasing your intake of

  • Caffeine
  • M.S.G.
  • Tobacco products
  • Aspartame
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Chocolate
  • Alcohol

Of course, no healthy lifestyle would be complete without exercise, too. Shoot for at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five times a week. Variety is the key – working different muscles allows you to burn more fat. Finally, Dr. Northrup suggests giving yoga and meditation a try. They both increase progesterone and will help you feel more calm and centered.

Sources:

Dr. Christiane Northrup, M.D., Nutrition: Hormone-Balancing Food Plan
http://www.drnorthrup.com/womenshealth/healthcenter/topic_details.php?topic_id=88

Preparing for Menopause: Your Diet. http://www.oprah.com/article/health/health_life_body/6

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