How Your Love for Chocolate Could Be Making Your Menopause Worse
If you're a woman over 40, chances are you've heard about menopause. It's a natural part of life, but you may not even realise that the foods you’ve loved in life so far can become your biggest enemy overnight.
Many women experience a range of symptoms, including hot flushes, mood swings, and sleep disturbances, and unfortunately your diet could be exacerbating these symptoms. So let’s have a look at how caffeine and refined sugar can impact menopause symptoms and the little things you can do to avoid them.
The Connection Between Caffeine and Menopause Symptoms
It’s an age old routine for most, you wake up in the morning, do a seemingly endless yawn. You need a hot drink with a hit. But what will it be? Tea or coffee? If this is you, you might be inadvertently making your menopause symptoms worse. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. For women going through menopause, this can trigger hot flushes and night sweats which can leave you tossing and turning and very much worse for wear in the morning. Ruining any hope there was of having a productive day.
If you're a coffee lover, try cutting back on your caffeine intake or switching to decaf. You could also try drinking herbal teas, like chamomile or peppermint, which are naturally caffeine-free and have calming properties. Or even take a shot at matcha, which is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties and will keep you from the mid morning slump.
The Role of Refined Sugar in Menopause Symptoms
Now, let's talk about sugar. It's no secret that sugar is not the healthiest food choice, but did you know that it could be exacerbating your menopause symptoms? Much like a lead in a 90’s rom com, when we’re stressed or sad we often reach for the sweet treats to make us feel better. But this means you can be consuming larger amounts of refined sugar than you expected. Refined sugar is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, causing a spike in blood sugar levels. So whilst you may feel good for a short time, it all comes crashing down fairly quickly. This can lead to mood swings, irritability, and fatigue. Therefore undoing everything you were trying to resolve in the first place.
In addition, sugar can also disrupt sleep patterns. When you eat sugar, your body produces insulin to help regulate blood sugar levels. However, this can cause a drop in blood sugar levels during the night, which can cause you to wake up feeling hungry or jittery.
So, you don’t want to give up on sugar completely - what can you do to reduce your sugar intake instead? Start by cutting back on processed foods, which are often high in added sugars. Instead, opt for whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If these alternatives just don’t satisfy your sweet tooth, try natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, or stevia.
The Chocolate Conundrum
Last but not least, let's talk chocolate. For many, chocolate is a beloved treat that can provide a quick mood boost. However, chocolate contains both caffeine and sugar, making it a double whammy for menopause symptoms.
If you can't bear the thought of giving up chocolate altogether (we hear you), try limiting your intake or opting for dark chocolate, which is lower in sugar and higher in antioxidants. If you can't take the bitter hit you can try cocoa powders with a dash of natural sweetener or you guessed it… CAROB! We may be biassed but carob is a complete game changer. So if you're a chocoholic, don't worry – carob is the perfect alternative, as its natural sweetness means no need for refined sugar. It also contains zero caffeine which is a win-win for keeping your symptoms at bay.
Menopause is a natural transition that can come with many challenges. The body and brain you’ve been so well acquainted with for so many years has a whole new rule book. But, by making simple changes to your diet, you can reduce the impact of menopause symptoms and take control of your menopause journey. Cut back on caffeine and refined sugar, and opt for whole foods instead. And for the choc lovers - give carob a try! You won’t look back.