I transitioned to a plant-based diet in my 40s as a result of watching a few documentaries about factory farming. Watching the documentaries, I became concerned about the treatment of animals as well as the hormones being injected into the food we eat.
Movie: Forks over Knives (I’m warning you, only watch this if you are ready to transition!)
At the time I was thinking about transitioning to a plant-based diet, I was just beginning to experience symptoms of menopause and wasn’t excited at the prospect of enduring the myriad of problems I’d witnessed and heard about other friends going through. I mean, seriously, who wants to have to change the sheets in the middle of the night from night sweats? Or be in a corporate meeting with a predominately male audience and just start sweating and fanning yourself? Not to mention the mood swings, dry skin, and sometimes years of menstrual ups and downs. Menopausal symptoms can last years and be life-altering for many women. Let’s add to that, I don’t like to take medications unnecessarily so wasn’t a fan of the idea of taking hormone replacements.
It got me wondering . . .
As I became more informed about the use of hormones in our food, I began to wonder how that was impacting our bodies.
Could that be why girls were maturing earlier?
Could that be a reason for increased cancer rates?
It stands to reason if the purpose of hormones in animals is to make them grow bigger faster, when we eat the meat of those animals, we too will grow bigger faster.
And if the reason women experience so much trouble during menopause is that their hormones are out of whack, why would we add to that problem by eating food that has been injected with additional hormones?
I conducted some online research and couldn’t find anything at the time that showed a correlation between a plant-based diet and menopausal symptoms.
So, I embarked on my own experiment and went completely plant-based (and organic) overnight.
For me, it wasn’t really that hard. I’m sure that’s because of the documentaries I watched. The idea of meat or dairy absolutely repulsed me (If only I could find a documentary that made me feel that way about chips and popcorn). I didn’t have a family to worry about at the time as my kids were grown so the transition may have been easier for me.
I found it was most difficult when I went out to lunch with co-workers. At the time, plant-based eating wasn’t as mainstream as it is now so I found myself limited to salads when eating out.
While I obviously felt healthier on a plant-based diet, let’s talk about my menopausal symptoms.
They all stopped.
I literally went from having a period one month to not having one the next month and never experienced hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, or any of the other symptoms many women experience. I was on no medications, or herbal remedies, and didn’t even take multivitamins on a regular basis. That was almost 10 years ago. And since that time, I’ve been espousing what I believe to be a connection to every woman that will listen.
While hormone replacement therapy is a typical prescription for menopausal symptoms, the potential side effects sound brutal. Bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, and mood changes sound almost as bad as night sweats and hot flashes. I’m not a doctor but. . . . changing your diet might be worth a try.
I know, going completely plant-based (no meat or dairy) is extreme and many people are just not ready to take that leap. Yet, I’m happy to report the scientific community has caught up with my personal findings and is now reporting the significance of our diet on menopausal symptoms. This is exciting news because it empowers us to make choices that could possibly impact the severity of symptoms experienced and the quality of life achieved. In this particular study, the participants didn’t even go completely plant-based, they just added more whole foods to their diet.
I also understand going organic can be costly for many people, which is one reason I have a garden and grow much of my own food. I do think it’s important to get your food locally and grown with as few pesticides as possible. Again, who knows what that’s doing to our bodies in the long term? It can’t be good.
You have to do what feels right for you. I just want you to be able to continue to show up as the badass beautiful being you are and if changing your diet works for you, it might be worth a try.
If you are concerned about your diet during menopause, you might also be interested in weight loss during (or post) menopause. Read here about how I am losing weight in menopause.