Pre & Peri Menopause: Love Yourself Through It | Food Confidence

Nutrition Strategies

Pre & Peri Menopause: Love Yourself Through It

As an integrative dietitian and empowerment coach with 20+ years of experience, my main goal is to help women age well, feel confident in their bodies, and create the healthy lifestyle they desire and deserve.
danielle omar

Hot flashes. Night sweats. Mood swings. Crazy periods. Weight gain. No sleep. Forgetfulness. 

These are the symptoms us 40-something women may experience with the hormonal changes of peri-menopause. For some, it’s compounded by other factors, too. Like an increase in cholesterol or sudden spikes in blood sugar. It can be hard to wrap your head around the idea that this is a “normal” part of aging and something women just have to accept, deal with, and manage during this phase of life. 

But we if it didn’t have to be this way?

What if we didn’t give our power away to the symptoms we’re feeling and instead chose to love ourselves through it? 

I know, it sounds a little crazy. Especially in a society that values youth and beauty. But aging isn’t something we can prevent or hide from. I mean laugh now, but you’ll get here, too. Faster than you think 🙂 

So what if we looked at these “symptoms” of aging as just what they are…symptoms. And as I always say, not all symptoms need to be fixed. It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? When we change our perspective, our symptoms can change, too. Or at least how we perceive them does.

So what if we looked at our symptoms as loving signs from our body?

What if we decided that our symptoms were just our bodies asking us to start listening more to what we need to thrive? Like more sleep. Some targeted nutrition (think protein, fiber and essential fats). Less stress. More time in nature. More time doing things that bring us joy. Less restriction.   

From a functional medicine perspective, we look at the root cause — not so much symptom management. And if you apply this idea to pre-menopause, perimenopause or menopause itself, how we approach aging probably needs more attention than those hot flashes. Because if we get to the heart of the matter, the symptoms will take care of themselves. This is the truth for most things in life, and peri-menopause is no different.

Which brings us to how we approach healthy aging. Loving yourself and aging well go hand in hand, and they’re two of my favorite topics. 

The root cause of peri-menopause is definitely fluctuating hormones, but the symptoms are exacerbated by how we’re living on a daily basis. And there are things we can do everyday that send a message to our bodies that we’re listening and we care. Once we start to support and love our body through healthier lifestyle choices, the signs and symptoms we associate with aging will ease and a more balanced body will emerge. 

Peri-Menopause & Weight Gain — It’s Not Just Your Hormones 

Women are no strangers to hormonal changes and fluctuations…most of us have been experiencing these monthly shifts for as long as we can remember. And while the imbalance of estrogen and progesterone actually starts in our mid-30s, we typically don’t start to notice things getting a little whacky until we reach our ’40s. And this usually shows up first as weight gain. 

At least that’s what gets our attention. 

But in reality, the weight gain is also just a symptom. What I see with my clients is that it’s their lifestyle combined with the hormonal shifts that’s really causing the problems. And by lifestyle, I mean the chronic stress of parenting, working and trying to do it all. 

Getting to bed after midnight and waking up at dawn, often after a restless night of sleep. 

Eating on the go and sacrificing nutrition for convenience. 

Putting self-care on your to-do list, like it’s a chore. 

Not making any time for movement, exercise or rejuvenation – or overdoing exercise. 

So yes, it may be our hormones, but it’s also our lifestyle that affects our metabolism and causes weight gain.  What can you do to support yourself? Okay, so let’s get down to the practical stuff. 

How Can You Love Yourself Through Pre & Perimenopause?

Below are what I consider the four foundational practices to bring about balance and well-being.

These are the things your body is asking for you to prioritize in your life: 

Your Diet. Make the foundation of your diet high fiber and plant-based and include healthy sources of lean protein and good fats. Not saying to go vegan here at all, but if you can load up half your plate with veggies at each meal you might possibly change everything. A good multivitamin and mineral complex is also a great all-in-one option that provides core vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D and calcium plus omega 3, acai, and CoQ10…all in a once daily convenient packet. Ask me about it here.

And if you need some help incorporating more nutrient-dense food into your diet or figuring out what foods work best for your body, try my 21-day Nourish program

Your Stress. This one is huge and will have the most impact on your health. When your nervous system is overstimulated, everything feels more intense in your body. Keeping your nervous system in a calm state is going to help support your adrenal glands and hormonal health not just now, but for your entire life. Not sure how to calm yourself down? Try deep breathing, yoga, acupuncture, meditation, massage, reiki and energy medicine…pretty much anything that is calming.  Herbs can help, too. 

Your Sleep.  What if you created a cravable sleep routine? Something you couldn’t wait to do every single night? I’m talking low lights, no electronics, warm tea, snuggly PJs and anything else that makes going to bed feel amazing. Many women report difficulty sleeping during the years leading up to menopause, so making sleep a priority is super important. Do this by going to bed early enough to get at least 7 hours of sleep and make those 30 minutes before bed the absolute best time of your day. And if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try this

Your Body. Getting in some exercise every day is super important, especially after you hit 40. Not just for help decreasing symptoms like night sweats, but also for optimizing bone health, improving brain function, and maintaining muscle strength and quality. Exercise can also help relax the nervous system and lessen anxiety. This doesn’t mean you should head for the nearest boot camp class. In fact, research shows that moderate intensity exercise (vs high or low) is the best for mediating symptoms. Aim for cardio 3 times per week and add resistance training or Pilates to increase bone mineral density. If you’re not moving at all right now, try grabbing a co-worker and fast walk during your lunch break, find an exercise class you love, and use the stairs as much as possible.  

Okay, once you’ve gotten these four core practices in place, you’re ready to start looking at some additional support. 

Natural Support for Symptoms of Pre & Perimenopause

Magnesium is your friend. It’s a superhero for women’s health. From mood to cramps to plain ole’ PMS, magnesium has your back. It promotes positive mood, supports breast comfort, and supports sleep quality. You can get magnesium from green leafy vegetables, almonds, and avocado, but you may need a supplement because magnesium is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies. When supplementing, the best form of magnesium to reach for is magnesium glycinate. It’s the most absorbable form and the least likely to cause loose stools than other forms of magnesium.

Keep yourself well-hydrated. This will help with any dryness caused by decreasing estrogen levels. Also, try to limit caffeine and alcohol (both can affect sleep and increase night sweats). 

If gut issues are persistent, a probiotic can help promote healthy microbiota, support immune health and optimize digestion. Pure Encapsulations Probiotic-5 is a great pick and it’s dairy and soy free.

Got cramps? Cravings? Bloating? Fatigue? I hear you, girl. I love using botanicals like chaste tree to support mood, provide relief from cramps and bloating, and help lessen fatigue and cravings associated with the menstrual cycle.

Support Yo-Self. If you’re feeling the occasional stress and herbs are your thing, try Ashwagandha. Ashwagandha belongs to the pepper family and it’s been used for over 4,000 years, promoting overall health and longevity. Acting as an adaptogen, Ashwangandha can help you adapt to occasional stress, counteracting its effects while also supporting cognition and memory function. Other herbs that help address perimenopausal symptoms are dong quai, maca, black cohosh, milk thistle, burdock, dandelion root and DIM.

Flaxseed and flaxseed oil. A good source of hormone-balancing lignans, flax may help with mild peri-menopause symptoms like night sweats and hot flashes. 



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