Eat Yourself Happy and Energised In Perimenopause!
Okay so whilst the title is a little simplistic it is true to say that good nutrition can often be a significant and overlooked factor when it comes to improving our mood and increasing our energy especially through perimenopause.
As we move through perimenopause one of the first changes you may notice is in your mood and energy (particularly if your sleep is being impacted by the wild peri hormones).
If you're finding that your anxiety is starting to go through the roof, or that you're more irritable, quick to temper OR that your energy is absolutely tanking, making some changes to your diet may help reduce the severity of these changes.
*Please note; this is general advice. We always recommend seeking advice from a medical professional.
You know that saying: “You are what you eat”? It's a good one because it's so true!
Food has a big part to play in how we feel and how much energy we have.
Here are some key points to think about:
- Poor food choices can negatively affect our sleep, energy levels and make you feel low.
- Eating complex carbohydrates releases energy slowly and don't give us wild highs and lows.
- Eating whole food meals and snacks regularly maintains our blood glucose levels.
- Eating protein increases the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries messages between the nerve cells in the brain and throughout the body. Its key role is in body functions such as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire.
- To help fight depression it is helpful to include Omega 3 fats in your diet.
- Alcohol consumption can negatively affect your mood and sleep.
- Drinking too much caffeine can have a negative impact on your energy levels.
- To improve concentration and cognitive function keep hydrated.
- A diet high in plant foods which are rich in prebiotics feeds good bacteria in our gut (our second brain) which makes everything function better.
Which Carbohydrates Should I Eat for Energy During Perimenopause?
Complex-carbs will help you sustain energy throughout the day rather than experiencing the wild highs and lows of simple carbohydrates like sugar.
Carbs to eat for energy:
- Fibrous fruits such as apples, pears, berries, oranges, tangerines, kiwi fruit, avocado and pineapple
Whole Grains - such as long-grain rice, oats, quinoa, barley.
Can Portion Size and Timing of your Meals Affect your Energy Levels?
In short, yes! It’s important to listen to your body and stop eating when you feel full. Overeating to the point that you feel like you might burst, can be overwhelming for your digestive system and make you feel tired, sluggish and sleepy.
Eating moderate meal portions regularly will help maintain steady blood sugar levels and therefore steady energy.
Eating the Right Foods That Support Microbiome will Improve Mood and Energy
What does your ‘Gut Microbiome’ do?
- Digests the food we eat
- Absorbs and synthesises nutrients
- Immunity regulation - 80% of our immune system is in our gut
- Regulatory role in metabolism, body weight, mood and brain function
- Acts as an endocrine organ - an unbalanced and distressed microbiome can cause either the deficiency or excess of free oestrogen.
How To Take Care of your Microbiome in Perimenopause
- Reduce alcohol - it can damage your microbiome
- Reduce sugar - feeds your bad gut bacteria
- Avoid ultra-processed foods as it starves your good gut bacteria
- Eat collagen based foods like bone broth and our Peri Chai Latte - helps repair your gut lining
- Eat prebiotics foods - they contain compounds that feed your good bacteria -
- Eat probiotic foods - they are foods that contain good gut bacteria like yogurt (if you can tolerate dairy) and fermented foods
Take a probiotic and prebiotic supplement.
Learn more here about improving gut health and how it can reduce your peri symptoms.
Why Eating a Diet Rich in Protein is Important for Mood
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in protein foods that helps increase the amount of serotonin that is made in the brain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries messages between the nerve cells in the brain and throughout the body.
Its key role is in such body functions as mood, sleep, digestion, nausea, wound healing, bone health, blood clotting and sexual desire. It’s known as the ‘happy hormone’ because it promotes feelings of calm and relaxation, whilst defending against depression.
Protein food sources are fish, red meat, poultry, eggs and legumes.
Eating Omega 3 Fats Can Help Protect Against Depression
- Researchers have suggested that eating a diet high in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may help protect against depression.
- Diet sources of Omega 3s are found in fatty fish, seafood, flaxseeds and walnuts. If you struggle to eat fatty fish, fish oil supplements would be a great choice.
- Aim for at least three 120 gram servings of oily fish like salmon or mackerel each week.
About Alcohol, Coffee and Hydration in Perimenopause
Alcohol - Sleep - it really stuffs up your sleep. Long term use of alcohol reduces your melatonin levels and disrupts your circadian rhythm. It will also increase night sweats and hot flashes: all of which disrupt your sleep and it damages your gut microbiome.
Coffee - Use coffee to your advantage! Coffee in moderation (1-2 cups) and without sugar in the morning will help increase alertness. BUT if you overdo it (more than 2 cups and later in the day) it will have the opposite effect and crash your energy.
- Hydration - Staying hydrated is important for brain health and cognition. Aim for 2 litres a day. Something so simple can make a world of difference to your perimenopause symptoms!
Snapshot: Improve Your Mood and Energy in Perimenopause
- To increase serotonin levels (the ‘happy hormone’) eat good quality protein (palm size) at every meal.
- Include Omega 3 fats in your diet such as oily fish and nuts and seeds to fight off depression.
- Limit your alcohol and coffee intake as it can affect your sleep and mood.
- Eat to nourish your gut microbiome which has a regulatory role in mood, energy and brain function. Eat a diet high in pre and probiotics foods like; kimchi, tempeh, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, bananas, apples, vegetables, garlic, onions, barley and oats.
- Keep hydrated! Aim for 2 litres of water a day which helps your brain and body help you.