Eating right nutrition and making lifestyle adjustments are so beneficial to women

by Gazette Reporter

By Fiona Staunton

Food expert Fiona Staunton peruses the benefits of phytoestrogens and making good food uncomplicated!

Phytoestrogen from foods help relieve some menopausal symptoms as they have a hormone balancing effect.

Fiona Staunton runs a cookery demo business, Fiona’s food for life. She has over 30 years of experience in the food industry and makes cooking good food uncomplicated. We have invited Fiona to share some of her tips and recipes with our readers this month

A clear understanding of how diet affects the start of natural menopause can be very beneficial to women if you eat the right nutrition and make some lifestyle adjustments surround yourself with the information to spot the symptoms then you will be better armed than just landing in it.

A balanced diet has plenty of variety; lots of coloured fruit and vegetables, wholegrain, nuts and seeds, and good fats, including omega 3 & quality proteins. Drink plenty of water, and avoid overly processed foods, excess sugar and alcohol. This is the guide for a lifetime of healthy eating. 

Learn how to find the essential nutrients in the food around us and how to prepare it in a practical, time-efficient manner. I make cooking good food uncomplicated.

If we focus on one particular group of nutrients, I would choose phytoestrogens. These are natural plant compounds that mimic oestrogen in your body. In my instance, I cannot have HRT & I take medication to block oestrogen in my body due to breast cancer, but I can have phytoestrogen from foods and they help me relieve some of my menopausal symptoms as they have a hormone balancing effect.Foods rich in phytoestrogens are flaxseeds, soy and lentils. In some traditional cultures such as Japan, where phytoestrogen-rich foods are consumed regularly, there is a lower incidence of menopausal symptoms than in Western civilisation. 

Adding legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, edamame beans and black beans to your weekly diet, they are full of fibre, help decrease cholesterol, lower blood sugar and increase gut bacteria as well as contain phytoestrogens, plant chemicals that mimic oestrogen in your body.

Some lifestyle factors to also consider are getting enough quality sleep, daily exercise, including some resistance work and scheduling time for rest and relaxation.

Here is my advice to you……

  1. Educate – what nutrients are good for brain health, inflammation, mood, immunity, heart health and the ultimate health of the whole family.
  2. Plan – plan weekly meals, have food in the freezer for the busy days, seek input from family members, and better still assign cooking duties! Download my template
  3. Shop – do one main shop per week, plan it well, and don’t go when you are tired or hungry. Template
  4. Cook – cook foods from scratch, be wise about cooking and double up where you can to provide another meal for the freezer or lunch the next day. Use tested recipes, with minimal effort, listen to radio, music or podcasts or while supervising homework, whatever stage of life you are at. 
  5. Eat – sit, enjoy, socialise, allow digestive enzymes to work effectively, and don’t drink with your meal ideally not for 20 mins before or after.
  6. Nourish – feel nourished and healthy, satisfied and strong.

Here are two of the recipes from my 6-week menopause cooking course to try. For more information and to join the waitlist for my next course, go to https://www.fionasfoodforlife.ie/ or call 087 6646445

Chia Berry Compote

A great way to add extra nutrients to your diet, and great for brain health!  This is a great way to get nutritious berries into your diet, it can be used as a jam or as a topping on porridge or Greek yoghurt. Make a batch and keep it in the fridge for the week. Chia seeds are high in omega 3 and fibre and are also a source of protein. The omega 3 ALA that the seeds contain can help maintain healthy blood cholesterol.

Serves: 6-8 tablespoons

Prep time: 10 mins

Ingredients:

2 cups frozen berries 2 tbsp chia seeds

1 tsp raw honey

Method:

1. Add the berries to a medium saucepan and simmer gently for approx. 5 mins.

2. Mash up the fruit to your desired consistency, I like some larger pieces in my compote.

3. Take off the heat and stir in the chia seeds, allow to cool

4. Add the honey, stir and store in a clean container in the

fridge for up to a week.

Variations: This can be made using lots of different fruit or using fresh fruit in season.

Serving suggestions: This is delicious on top of porridge, overnight oats or Greek yoghurt or a wholemeal scone or a slice of toast. It can also be added to a smoothie.

Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. 

Pasta with trout & ricotta

This is a delicious quick pasta dish, using a no-cook sauce, I have paired it with a locally smoked trout for omega 3, parsley, and lemon to support our immune system and ricotta.

Serves 2

Prep time 15 mins

Ingredients 

  • 200g hot cooked whole grain spaghetti 
  • 300g flaked trout
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves 
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 200g ricotta, crumbled 
  • Pepper and salt 

Method: 

1. Cook the pasta as per instructions on the packet. 

2. Toss all the ingredients together and serve. 

Variations: You can use pasta of your choice, e.g. I like to use spelt wholegrain but you could use lentil or wholemeal or plain. If you want a vegan dish you can omit the ricotta or use a vegan cheese. Another variation would be tuna, chilli, rocket, and lemon. Adding wild garlic leaves to wilt and 1 tsp wild garlic pesto is delicious in spring.

Serving suggestions: Serve warm, in a bowl.

 Storage: Best eaten fresh but if stored in the fridge it can be used the next day. 

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