This week, research from the University of Leeds revealed that women with a diet rich in oily fish, peas and beans could delay the natural onset of the menopause by up to three years.
This new research is educating women on how their diet can impact the menopause - however, do they realise how the menopause will impact their diet?
I was 48 when I began experiencing menopause symptoms, three years younger than the average woman – obviously part of that statistic not getting that Omega 3 – and along with the adult acne and night sweats one of the side effects was the change to my taste buds.
In my 20s, 30s and the majority of my 40s I was a committed vegetarian, but then I suddenly began craving baked salmon, a food high in Omega 3, demonstrating that my body was obviously craving this fatty acid that my vegetable based diet was lacking.
Slowly I gave into these cravings, introducing salmon and prawns into my meals and then my dietary desires got even more extreme with mince beef and black pudding (my Bury roots finally came through!). It wasn’t just food either, my daily coffee habit went from several cups a day to being repulsed by the taste and even the smell.
At first, in my naivety, I thought I was pregnant. Several years previously, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I had suffered with the same caffeine revulsion, but then combined with the night sweats I realised it was my time to start the menopause.
So three years on I have a diet filled with gammon, black pudding, salmon, prawns, and thankfully coffee, as unlike some of my dietary changes the coffee disgust wore off.
When I read the new research it ultimately raised two questions for me. Firstly, are women willing to change their diet simply to delay the inevitable for as little as three years? Yes the night sweats, insomnia, loss of libido, dry eyes and joint ache can be insufferable but they will have the same life changing impact whenever they strike.
And secondly, is enough being done to educate women on how much the menopause could impact not just their diet, but their lives. I personally had no idea that the menopause would impact my diet, and even my career, nor did I really know about the other 34 side-effects, and at the tender age of 48 surely I was too young? Wasn’t I?
As a society we see menopause as something that affects the old, but at 48 I didn’t feel old (and I still don’t), so when I started having the symptoms it simply didn’t register. Ultimately, the menopause is part of the natural ageing process for women and no matter how much salmon we eat it will impact us! So why is it still very much a taboo topic that is talked about under hushed tones, if at all?
We know that in our teens we will start our period, in our twenties and thirties we are expected to have children, but the rest it is kept a mystery, a secret that is locked away until you reach that magic menopause age and then you have to work it out for yourself.
So to help others I am talking about my experience, encouraging others to speak up as well, all to help educate the future menopause generation, letting people know what to expect – dietary changes and all.