Kate Percy is one of our experts in the Run Mummy Run Community Run Club in association with ASICS, covering everything nutrition. These blogs are exclusive to RMR CRC members for a few months before being made public. In this post, Kate explains more about menopause and how to support your body nutritionally.
A simple fact of life, menopause creeps up on us around the age of 45 and lasts around 10 years. We are all affected differently. For some menopause can start much earlier and be a wild hormonal ride! For others (the lucky few!), it can be relatively short-lived and symptom-free.
In essence the menopause is when oestrogen levels decline, leading to the end of periods. This decline in oestrogen brings a range of bothersome and at times debilitating symptoms, which can impact your work, your relationships, your mood and, dare I say it, your passion for running!
You may experience all, or just a few of the following symptoms:
- Low mood
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Brain fog
- Fatigue and aching joints
- Disrupted sleep
- Loss of libido
- Weight gain around the middle
- Hair growth in places you don’t want it!
If you are finding your symptoms are having a negative impact on your life then get yourself off to the GP. However, self-help – making small lifestyle changes to what you eat and your physical activity – can also make a huge difference to how you feel. Here’s a few tips I’ve picked up, both through experience and talking to menopause experts:
Make sure you incorporate a bit of me-time into every day, whether it’s a hot bath, or brisk walk or jog, or even sitting in the garden with a cup of tea breathing in the nature. This can regulate your stress responses to your menopausal symptoms.
Running makes you feel better
Sometimes running can become difficult as you approach the menopause (perimenopause) and during menopause. As your body changes so do your energy levels and it can make you feel frustrated and disappointed. It can really knock your confidence and I’ve even wondered myself if I should just give up running altogether! The fact is, even if you’ve had to cut your run short because you were low on energy or breathless, you generally feel better afterwards. Listen to your body, don’t push yourself and accept that your body is coping with change and this may be what’s affecting your running.
Don’t just run
As oestrogen levels decline, so does your bone density, so weight-bearing exercise such as Pilates and yoga can help keep your bones strong. Doing this will, in turn, help your running too.
You are what you eat
- Try to eat 30+ different plant-based foods each week. This actually sounds harder than it actually is and it will improve your gut health no end, lower the risk of heart disease and cancer and help you feel better, both physically and mentally. Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, green leafy veg, beans, lentils, dried fruit, nuts and seeds are all great.
- Make it complex. Opt for complex carbs such as root vegetables, oats and wholegrains.
- Healthy fats are great. According to recent studies, eating oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, avocados and seed oils can decrease the frequency of hot flushes and night sweats.
- Manage your minerals. Calcium, magnesium, boron and vitamin K from foods such as apples, pears, grapes, dates, raisins, beans and nuts, and of course vitamin D from the sunlight will all enhance bone density and make you feel and run better.
- Harness the power of ‘phytoestrogens’. These are found in foods such as edamame beans, soya milk, sesame, pumpkin and flaxseed, tofu, miso, broccoli, carrots, legumes, oranges and green beans and can act as hormone regulators. In fact there is a lower occurrence of menopausal symptoms in populations with diets high in phytoestrogens.
Kate’s Top Tips
- Sprinkle seeds on your morning muesli – flaxseed and pumpkin seeds are great!
- Try my new mix-at-home savoury pancakes which are made from oat flour, buckwheat and flaxseed, all fantastic ingreidnets to support your menopause journey.
- Add edamame beans to salads and soups, or roast and sprinkle with salt.
- Make soups and dahl with red lentils. Add ginger and turmeric, both of which can help with menopausal symptoms.
- Sweet potatoes are packed with goodness – add to curries, soups or roast wedges seasoned with cumin, pepper and salt.
- Eat leafy greens in salads. Roast kale until crisp for a tasty snack.
- Enjoy dates as a pre-run boost, in energy balls or on your porridge. Try Kate Percy’s Go Bites as a healthy snack or to boost your running.
- Mash avocado onto your toast for a healthy, savoury breakfast. Add some chopped tomato, lemon juice and olive oil and season.
- Go nuts! Nut butters are a great way to eat healthy fats and protein. Add a dollop to your porridge or enjoy as a post-run snack!
I hope that is useful and help! Let me know how you get on …
Hello everyone! It’s a great privilege to have been invited by Run Mummy Run to inspire you with all things food and nutrition! In everything I do, whether it’s my food products, cookbooks or educational resources, my mission is to help you discover what I call #enerjoy through what you eat; that’s great taste, good energy, vitality and happiness. I hope you enjoy my tips and recipes over the coming year. And I hope they bring you #enerjoy!
Follow Kate on Facebook and Instagram @katepercys or check out Kate’s shop for cookbooks, healthy snack products (Kate Percy’s Go Bites), baking kits (gluten free, vegan pizza base, savoury pancake and dough balls kits).
** If you enjoyed this feature, you may also like: How menstrual cycle and menopause can impact on training **