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Managing Menopause on a Plant Based Diet

I remember being in my late 30s and I read somewhere that between the ages of 40 and 50

women gain on average 4 lbs a year. How Is this possible I thought? The quick math was I was going to gain 40 lbs by the time I turn 50 yrs old. All I could think about was how taxing that would be. Having an extra 40 lbs to carry around. How hard on my heart and my joints that would be. It was pretty daunting to think about. It sounded like it was going to be inevitable once menopause started. Along with a whole host of other challenges that come along with that time in life.

I was pretty sure I was going to be ok despite my Mom having a very long drawn out menopause and my sisters suffered through it also. They had all the symptoms. The sweats, not sleeping, weight gain along with all emotional challenges we face with hormone fluctuations and thyroid issues. I figured since I was active and I was doing Endurance races and running daily. I didn’t eat red meat, pork or chicken, surely symptoms would be minimal. When I turned 40 I was doing Ironmans. swimming biking and running, training and racing. I was what society would consider healthy and active for my age.

I got to about 43 and started feeling not great. Fatigued and overly stimulated at the same

time. I felt puffy. Like I had inflammation. I felt like I was retaining water. My skin hurt. Like it

was itchy. I just felt uncomfortable in my skin. I had no idea why. I was trying to manage it. I had gained a couple of pounds but nothing drastic. I just felt off. I was having a hard time sleeping. Felt crappy most of the time.

I first went to my family physician and told him that I didn't feel great and also explained my symptoms. He did some blood work and said you know you are going into perimenopause. We chatted a bit about options. Options like I could take diuretics for the swelling and take some prescribed iron and also some women use hormone therapy. I asked what type, as I was not familiar with the different types. He talked about HGH and synthetic hormones.

I went home and did some research on all the options. All medications had scary side effects and could do long term damage. Everything from serious constipation, stomach issues, rashes and a huge increase for a chance of cancer. I decided this wasn’t an option and sought out the leading Naturopath in Calgary. After all sorts of tests, he came to the same conclusion and more. I was premenopausal, adrenal exhaustion, iron defiance, high levels of cortisol. His recommendation however was for me was to start taking many different supplements. $1200.00 worth. Vitamin cocktail drips etc. I wasn’t interested in this option either. It felt like it was going to be a cycle with no real cure.

I was really surprised that no one asked about my diet and what I was eating. Assuming I must be eating fine as I am active and not overweight. In actuality, my diet consisted of lots of cheese, sushi, processed pre-packed foods. Things like crackers, muffins that sort of convenience prepackaged type foods. Growing up my 3 favourite foods were Ice cream sandwiches, Doritos and canned corn. In no particular order.

I went home frustrated, really sad and scared. Was I going to feel like this forever? I just had to accept the fact that I was getting to that stage in life that everyone one needs to go through and I was also going to feel unhealthy and hopefully not get worse symptoms.

After a day of a pity party, I talked to my husband and I said, I’m going to try going plant based - Vegan. I had done a little bit of research and read some literature,like the China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell. Watched Forks over Knives. All seemed promising. Eating whole foods from the ground seemed like a really good option. Coincidently my youngest son also said he was going vegan because he just didn’t feel right eating anything with a Mom and a Dad. We had seen a film on animal agriculture and the environment and it touched him. It made sense so the decision was pretty easy.I was also just going to eat whole plant-based foods. No Gluten and no sugar nothing processed.

It was going to be a big switch. I loved cheese, breads, cookies, muffins and I had a bit of a sweet tooth. Maybe a bit is an understatement, more like I had a bit of an addiction.

Now Im not saying everyone has to do what I did but 1 im not a moderate person. I am in all the way or out. I went cold turkey. Cutting everything out all at once. No Animal products no

processed foods and refined sugar. I didn’t fast I just ate clean plant based foods. I also was just tired of feeling so terrible. I know there was inflammation throughout my body. I felt toxic. I wasn’t a drinker or smoker so I know that wasn’t the culprit. It was the food I was eating.

It was a Sunday and I went into full-on detox. Only rice and vegetables. I didn’t know anyone

vegan so I had to rely on resources on the internet. I knew lots of vegetarians but that wasn’t

particularly helpful. So I put my rice cooker on and sautéed veggies. Oatmeal. Lots of fruit.

The first 2 days were tough I stayed home and felt so foggy and had a headache and tired.

Struggled with memory and anxiety. Then Day 3 came. It was unreal how great I felt. Just from 3 days. I couldn’t believe it I was like a whole new person. So much energy, my brain was so clear. I couldn’t believe how great I felt. I was eating lots of whole foods. A week went by and it was getting easier every day. I lost 8 lbs in 10 days. I had an insane amount of energy. My joints weren’t sore. I was recovering from workouts better and sleeping

the deepest best sleep ever. I was in shock that I could feel this much better so soon.

As the months went by I realized that I was running at about 40% of my capacity all those years and since going vegan I am now running at 85%-90% It feels like I have been given this

incredible gift.

I am now 54 and have no symptoms of Menopause.` no sweats and I still have my period

around every 28 days. It’s a bit light but that’s it. I know this is because of my diet. I’m not

perfect. I am always vegan but I will go on the side of vegan junk food on occasion. Fries,

meatless burgers convenient fast food. But I check myself often. Also, the only supplement I take is Blood Builders once a day as a natural Iron supplement and I do use B12 every so often. Nothing else. None of the diuretics they recommended. No hormone therapy and no supplements. Again so important to emphasize I am not a Doctor or a Nutritionist. All I can do is share my experience and what worked for me and for many other people who have reached out and have shifted their eating to a vegan, plant based diets.

I did however have a physical and blood work done 6 months later and it was such a huge

improvement my doctor called me at home so excited about the results. For the 1st time in my life since I was about 13, I didn’t have Iron deficiency or anemia. It was great I have however asked my friend Dr. Gemma Newman for some links and information that would support this type of diet.

I am now about 10 yrs into this journey and it just gets better. I have educated myself through research and experiences of what worked for me. The things I share with you are:

  • Omitting animal products. This means, meat, fish, eggs and dairy.

  • Minimal processed foods.

  • Not eating out as much so you can.

  • Make sure you get the best organic produce and products.

  • I also did a Lymphatic massage for the 1st few months.

  • Now I do Hot Yoga. It really helps my Lymphatic system. Find a studio that the temperature fits your liking.

  • Online Resources ( like this!)

  • Cookbooks that had simple great tasting everyday recipes.

  • Surround yourself with people who encourage and support your journey to health and wellness.

  • Learn from those that have already transitioned successfully.

Our diet plays a really big role in our health at all stages of life. If you can control the type of

foods we put into our bodies you will believe how amazing your body is meant to feel.

Peace, Plants, Health and Wellness Everyone.

- Rose.

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