Those of you who follow me know I’ve been dealing with some perimenopausal symptoms (mostly uncontrolled rage and mood swings aimed at my family) that came to a head in August when I had some time off between jobs. I was feeling some alarming thoughts and had a breakdown and near panic attack at my primary care office during a routine physical. I wasn’t feeling like myself and I knew I wasn’t pregnant (that was the only time I felt this…unhinged) so I knew it was something deeper.
Turns out, getting your period closer together is one symptom of perimenopause! And high cholesterol (I’ve never had a cholesterol problem before) and mood swings are other symptoms. I knew that everything I was doing, wasn’t doing much of anything to change my health, so I turned to an expert.
I had always wanted to work with a naturopath to further address whatever ailments my body was going through, and now with these extreme feelings and the fact that my blood work revealed high cholesterol, prediabetes and iron deficiency, I knew it was time to get real about what I was doing and what needed to change.
When I went to my naturopath for a visit to discuss the results of the comprehensive blood work she had completed, I knew she was going to tell me I needed to change the way I’ve been eating. She reviewed a 4-day food log I had given her, which included sugary treats every day (sometimes several a day) and McDonald’s and other fast food meals several times a week. I’ve been eating anything and everything and whatever I’ve been eating has not only increased my hunger, it’s caused my up and down extreme moods, and made me feel generally sucky. It’s impacted how I show up for my family, but it has also had me hating life in general. These feelings have been feeling so real and so scary, and nothing is worth eating if it makes me hate myself, my family, and life. I’ve made several changes in just one week, that have vastly improved all aspects of my life! Here are my top tips:
- Focus on a nutritious and filling breakfast. I’ve struggled in the past with all-or-nothing dieting thinking and feeling extremely deprived a result, which led to binges and secret eating for me. Learning that I am prediabetic and have high cholesterol has me realize I just can’t continue to do what I’m doing. And I’ve gotten to the point where I just want to feel happy again. So the first step for me was to focus on breakfast and eating a meal that not only tastes good, but is filling and puts me in a good mood. This amazing oatmeal with egg white recipe is one that did it for me!
- Pay attention to how food makes me feel. When the naturopath looked at my food log, she said it made sense that I was feeling unhappy and angry and frustrated, because my food log indicated to her that everything I was eating was exacerbating my perimenopausal issues. Now, when I eat refined food, or sugar, I pay attention to not only how it makes me feel, but how I feel about my kids. Case in point: I ate some of the kiddo’s leftover pizza yesterday afternoon. And within 10 minutes I felt that I wanted to sleep! Instead of white-knuckling staying away from foods that aren’t healthy, I can stay away simply because I’m tuned into how sucky they make me feel. It’s amazing the wonder of good fuel and nutrition!
- Eat whole, one ingredient foods. This is a tip my naturopath gave me. Instead of eating processed food with dozens of ingredients, aim for one ingredient foods, like brown rice, salmon, broccoli. And it’s incredible how much better one ingredient, non-processed foods make me feel! In only one week I have so much more energy, and I’m enjoying life again. Phew.
- Give yourself grace. I had been eyeing this tasty sweet treat all week and finally had it last night. And the world didn’t end! I also know that even if I was eating sugary stuff multiple times a day, for days on end, that I will not go back to that pattern of eating because it simply didn’t make me feel good!
- Have a goal, other than weight loss. The biggest reason I have for changing how I’m eating and improving my health is so I can be there for my kids and hubby and enjoy them and life. In the past if I focused on the scale, I quickly lose motivation. But feeling joy and happiness and not wanting to run away from life? It’s the biggest reason I have for eating better and forsaking fast food and other food that was bringing me down.
I’ll keep you posted on how this is going for me!