So many of my clients tell me they want to add in foods and/or supplements as a way of helping to manage peri- or post- menopausal symptoms.
How can we do this in a way that doesn’t jeopardize all the hard work of letting go of diets and embracing intuitive eating? Or trigger a relapse of eating disorder behaviors?
This article will be the first in a series of conversations about gentle nutritional strategies to manage common menopausal symptoms.
Please help me sleep!
Sleep disturbances are one of the most reported, bothersome symptoms of menopause; when you’re not sleeping well, nothing seems to go right! We also know that disturbed sleep can lead to cognitive issues (hello brain fog, memory and word finding problems!), but also to chronic pain and trouble listening to our hunger and fullness cues! Not sleeping can make it challenging to move our bodies for pleasure, which only adds to the stress we are already feeling!
Good sleep hygiene is very important. As you practice intuitive eating, here are some things to consider with your food intake.
How Does Meal Timing Affect Your Sleep?
With intuitive eating, we are challenging many food rules such as the “don’t eat after 7:00 pm” rule!! I don’t know about you, but I remember feeling very rebellious when challenging those rules. Instead, consider really paying attention to how your body feels the next morning after eating close to bedtime. Did you sleep well or did you toss and turn? Did you have reflux? How might this experience inform your next?
Monitor Your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake
Most of us drink some sort of stimulant-based beverage during the day, whether that be coffee, tea or soda. Let’s face it, we are tempted by the energy jolt from caffeine to try to overcome daytime sleepiness. Unfortunately, this is not really sustainable and can have a big impact on our sleep when taken too late in the day. So just start to notice when a good cut-off time might be! And with this never ending pandemic, it can be tempting to have a nightcap in an effort to relieve stress and get ourselves to sleep. Unfortunately, alcohol negatively affects our sleep quality.
Certain Foods Can Help Our Zzz’s
Here is some good news…some foods might help you sleep better!!
A recent study showed that two foods in particular helped to optimize sleeping patterns – they are pistachio nuts and the kiwi fruit!!
Pistachio nuts are a rich source of melatonin, which is a hormone produced in the pineal gland within the brain. Researchers say that adding melatonin to your diet may improve sleep. Other foods rich in melatonin are tart cherries, other nuts, milk, eggs, and fish.
Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University also found that eating kiwi fruit on a daily basis was linked to substantial improvements to both sleep quality and sleep quantity. Kiwi fruit is rich in serotonin, a neurotransmitter involved in sleep.
So why not put kiwi fruit and pistachio nuts together, perhaps with some yogurt (another melatonin-rich food) for a great snack? Win/Win/Win!!! I like to layer kiwi fruit, then Greek yogurt, then a layer of pistachios in a nice dessert glass…then practice some slow mindful delicious eating!
- “Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems” Lin et al 2011
- “Expression of Concern to Spectrofluorimetric Determination of Melatonin in Kernels of Four Different Pistacia Varieties after Ultrasound-Assisted Solid-Liquid Extraction” Oladi et al 2019
Helping Women Make Peace With Food And Body Image
Erica Leon Nutrition supports a Health at Every Size® perspective to create an inclusive and respectful community, and support people of all sizes in finding compassionate ways to take care of themselves.
We recognize that one-on-one counseling isn’t for everyone nor for every situation. That’s why we offer several program options.
Click here to learn more about the program options available.
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
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