How to feel good through the menopause

BY Amanda Ryder

1st Dec 2023 Menopause

3 min read

How to feel good through the menopause
In these compiled extracts from her book, Feel Good for Menopause, Amanda Ryder gives nutrition and lifestyle advice to support a healthy body and mind
Have you discovered how wonderful it is to be in the company of other midlife women? Is it because when we get to this stage in our lives, we’re more open, honest, vulnerable and simply there for each other. Gone is the competition and the pretence, leaving us with a freedom to just be ourselves. It’s magical.

Menopause perceptions

Amanda Ryder
Let’s not be drawn into the narrative that menopause equals washed up, tired, irrelevant, unwell, and that your best years are behind you.
Instead, let’s look to the women who are still rocking it in their forties, fifties, and sixties, and find inspiration from them. Women like Emma Walmsley (CEO of GSK), Deborah Meaden, Kristin Scott Thomas, Gabby Logan and Kate Bingham just to mention a few! These women are creative, bold, courageous, hard-working, authentic, and happy in their own skins.
"Midlife shouldn’t make us compromise work, our creative side or being with family and friends"
Whether it’s continuing your work, exploring your creative side, or getting the most out of being with your family and friends, midlife shouldn’t make us compromise. I hope this book can transform what is expected to be a negative time in a woman’s life and demonstrate that midlife and beyond can also be something to be celebrated.

Why men and women experience midlife differently

Women’s hormones tend to decline more quickly than men’s, hence we feel the symptoms of midlife more abruptly and therefore have a lot more to deal with.
Men’s hormones, on the other hand, decline in a slow, steady fashion over many years, hence they don’t feel the consequences as suddenly.
The symptoms we experience occur because, around this time, our ovaries start to significantly reduce the amount of oestrogen and progesterone they secrete due to a lack of viable eggs. The transition through menopause can certainly be a bumpy ride as our hormones decline.

Feel good about eating

Our bodies are dealing with a lot of change and will adjust to a new normal, therefore it’s essential that we focus on foods that will sustain us and that we eat in a way that supports stable blood sugar levels and provides us with the nourishment to support our future health.
So, when it comes to food, we need to look at quality over quantity every time—this will really help regulate your appetite and your health. Therefore, I encourage you to ditch processed foods and reach for healthier, unadulterated foods.

Why am I gaining weight?

One of the main reasons a lot of us start to gain weight at midlife is because we have lower levels of oestrogen, which is compounded by the fact that a lot of us will have lower muscle mass compared to our younger selves.
Therefore, you want to hang on to your muscle with all your might, so you don’t slow down your metabolism, or compromise your strength or vitality, as you get older.
As our oestrogen declines, we don’t handle carbohydrates as well because our cells are less sensitive to insulin, hence we don’t get away with treats as easily as we once did. As a result, we tend to put on weight around our middle—frustrating!
"You want to hang on to your muscle with all your might, so you don’t slow down your metabolism"
Getting good at carbohydrates and upgrading from the white, processed, mainly beige variety, to the health-giving, good, complex, colourful kind is essential. 
I do, however, want to make it clear that being super skinny is not the point here; it’s more about maintaining a weight that suits you, and enjoying a good metabolism that allows your body to function at its best. We need more women like Kate Winslet, who are prepared to show their real, beautiful, round bellies and curvaceous figures without feeling the need to change them (see Mare of Easttown, where Kate insisted her real body be shown in the intimate shots!)—so that the rest of us feel normal just the way we are.

Feel good about legumes…and have them for lunch!

Bowl of healthy vegetables including chickpeas
Being healthy is all about having healthy habits in place and getting into the routine of eating legumes is often a good one to work on. Legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and beans (what I call good carbs) can be so helpful in midlife.
What’s so good about them?
"Legumes can help regulate your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as maintain a healthy gut"
Legumes can help regulate your blood sugar and improve cholesterol levels (the less desirable kind, LDL), they can provide both the soluble and insoluble fibre needed to maintain a healthy gut, plus they’re rich in protein and fibre.
As I researched the connection between women and legumes, I also discovered that the longevity hotspots of the world, known as the "blue zones", including Sardinia and Okinawa, all have one dietary habit in common: the regular consumption of legumes.
These are just a few snippets from my new book; each chapter focuses on a different aspect of how to feel good about menopause and beyond, and considers all the positive things you can do for yourself.  It explains the "feel good four" method of eating and considers why any woman would even consider HRT, plus it provides great advice on how to look after your bones and your muscle mass.
Feel Good for Menopause by Amanda Ryder, Registered Nutritional Therapist, is published by Well Women Publishing
Banner photo: Vlada Karpovich

Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by 
subscribing to our weekly newsletter