Eating healthy is such an important focus, especially during menopause. So today I wanted to chat about nutrition and how the food we eat to nourish our bodies. What we eat has such a fundamental affect in how we feel.
The challenge is where do we start and how do we keep going? We’re constantly bombarded with the latest miracle diet and foods we should and shouldn’t eat are always in the the news. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and not know what is right for you.
As with all things at the menopause club we’re here to support you to find what works for you, what your priorities are, what’s realistic and what fits into your life. Making food another stress point is of no benefit to anyone.
Step1: What is your starting point?
It’s time to take a really honest look at what you’re eating. What are your big rocks? Are you eating healthy? You can use our food diary template which is a free printable. The idea is for a few days (including weekend days) to record exactly what you’re eating and when. Also in the third column why? So much of our food decisions are based on how we’re feeling. Am I tired, genuinely hungry, bored, eating because others are, feeling emotional, stressed etc
Step 2: Understanding your food challenges
So now it’s time to be honest about your food challenges. Using your food diary and thinking about your eating patterns – what are your challenges?
It may be you don’t drink enough water, you may not have enough protein or fruit and veg. You may find your good during the week and it all goes wrong at the weekend or your good during the day but struggle in the evening. Sugary snacks or crisps or too much bread might be your challenge. Get clear on your priorities
Step 3: Tackling the “big rocks”
In my blog on symptoms and food I talked about why tackling the big rocks first will have the biggest impact. So what are yours?
Do you drink enough water? – Hydration is essential to feel strong and healthy
Do you eat enough protein? – Protein feeds our muscles and helps to keep us feeling full
Do vegetable make up a good proportion of your diet? – We all know vegetable are good for us
What do you snack on? – Do you reach for the crisps/chocolate as your normal snack choices?
I then use this to create my daily guidelines for eating healthy. Here’s an example of mine:
- At least 4 pints of water
- Protein with every meal
- Half my plate vegetables
- 1 meal no white starchy carbs (white bread/pasta/rice etc.)
- No Sugary snacks
At the end of the day I simply tick which ones I’ve achieved. Then at the end of the week I review and aim to be hitting them at least 80% if the time.
This works for me as it’s a guidance and is realistic. You can also use things like my fitness pal for tracking if counting calories is your thing
Step 4: Planning
So how do we make this happen. I genuinely find planning my meals makes a huge difference. The weeks where I don’t plan, that’s when it can go wrong. I get to lunch – what’s in cupboard, or a crazy night with quiz – do whatever is quick and easy. This often means I’ll make poor choices out of necessity of eating something.
I like to use a Meal Planner – we have a free printable template
When planning I also link to what I’ve got on each week. I’ve found in the past I’ve planned an amazing week of healthy eating only to realise I just don’t have the time to prepare it. We all have such busy lives our planning needs to be realistic so we’re setting ourselves up to be successful.
I use to plan for shopping and cooking and I find I can tick of so many more days where I hit my guidelines
Step 5: Review
Taking time to review your progress is really important. This will encourage you to keep going as you see progress. Also it will help you readjust when things aren’t working. Consider the following questions:
- Which of your habits/rules are you sticking to?
- Which habits/rules are you finding hard?
- What else can you do?
- How are you going to feel when you are fuelling your body well? –
- What do I need to work on?
Step 6: Lose the Guilt
If you have a bad meal it doesn’t need to turn into a bad day.
If you have a bad day it doesn’t need to turn into a bad week.
If you make some bad choices, accept what’s happened and let it go. Why beat yourself up and feel guilty? It’s past you can’t undo it. Forgive yourself and refocus on what you are going to do next. Remind yourself of your habits and focus on your why.
If you can make at least one extra healthy choice every day – imagine how you’ll feel in a week, a month or even a year from now!