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Relieve Your Menopause Symptoms By Eating Right

Nov 21, 2007
If you're experiencing menopause, then you probably remember a television commercial a few years back; (ok ... maybe more than a few years back); that asked the burning question, "Who made the salad?" The family sat around the dinner table about to begin their meal. Someone would ask that all important question, and after everyone would look inquiringly at the rest of the family, the salad dressing that the commercial was promoting was then prominently displayed, and the happy little gathering would rejoice and begin eating. Typical family meal, right? Actually, my own family meal regularly mocked that commercial by asking "who made" whatever we were having.

We all laughed back then, but today it has been discovered that salads of all sorts can be the most nutritious part of the day. Certainly many have learned about the weight loss advantages it has when on a diet, but recently there's been much more information that has been added to the benefits of eating salads, particularly when it comes to dealing with menopausal symptoms.

It's probably not a surprise that many women are not enjoying the hot flashes, migraine headaches, sleepless or restless nights, moodiness, and all the other symptoms that go along with becoming older. Although some of those same symptoms are uncomfortable and recurring on a regular basis, generally women are not willing to take the hormone replacement therapies that doctors prescribe for them for fear of long-term side effects and cancer. Consequently, they are looking for other, more natural alternatives.

Reassessing what they're eating and adding nutrients through food changes is certainly a good place to start. So what do salads have to do with menopause? More than you probably realize.

Without becoming technically boring and medically confusing, let's find out what should go into a good salad to help with menopausal symptoms.

Remember all the things your mother told you about how healthy salad is for you. Unless you've developed a taste for them in your adulthood, her constant reminders are probably still ringing in your ears every time you walk past the produce section of your supermarket. You know you should be eating more salads, but in this day and age of working mothers, frozen food, microwaves, and "drive-throughs", many women have neither learned nor have taken the initiative to begin eating healthier. If you've decided to adopt the attitude of 'better late than never', welcome to the ranks of all the aging baby boomers who have finally taken the plunge to eat wisely.

Of course you'll want to start with the "green" parts as your salad base. Rather than using the nutritionally lacking iceberg lettuce however, use romaine, baby greens, red leaf, or spinach. Any of these can go far to give you the antioxidants, magnesium and iron that is so necessary to your optimum overall health. By adding fresh parsley, basil, and tarragon, you can boost your immune system tremendously and ward off any possible "uglies" just lurking around the corner waiting to attack.

Now add your other vegetables. Sure you can use the most popular vegetables like tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and carrots, all of which are certainly good for you, but don't limit yourself by stopping there. Be a little more creative by adding broccoli, cauliflower, artichokes, zucchini, or asparagus.

All vegetables have vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that carry benefits for everyone who eats them. What most don't realize is that each of them has a unique combination of those vitamins and minerals that is not duplicated by other vegetables. What that means then is that each individual vegetable zeroes in on particular systems or organs. Eating a combination of varied vegetables at any given time increases the function of each of those targeted systems, including those that are associated with menopause.

When speaking of your skin, add a little more color to your face by adding a little more color to your salad. Use all sorts of "veggies" to avoid that "washed out" look. There's nothing like a good, even complexion to help a menopausal woman feel better about her appearance. Besides, don't you want that makeup to glide on smoothly and evenly without all the dry patches flaking off an hour later?

In addition to the vegetables included in your salad, how about adding the sweetening agent? I'm not talking chocolate here, ladies. I'm talking about the fruits that already have all the natural sweetening any woman could want.

Apple pieces, orange slices, pears, bananas, strawberries, and all the rest of the berry family, will give your salad the sweetest tang. When mixed with the greens of the salad, the sweet juices of whatever fruits you decide to use actually compliment the flavor of the vegetables; so much so, that in many cases any additional dressing isn't even needed! If you want that fresh new skin color to absolutely glow, add the fruit for a clearer skin tone, too.

Now it's time to include the protein from the meat category. Actually, there are two groups of protein that you can choose from, or include. For the vegetarian or 'not-so-meat-eating' woman, go with low-fat cottage cheese or boiled eggs. For the woman who wants protein in the form of "real" meat as I call it, you're welcome to partake in grilled chicken, tuna, turkey, or the lean part of red meat.

In either case, adding any or all of these things to your salad will help you feel 'full' longer, (which means you'll not find it necessary to constantly check to see if the refrigerator light is working), and the fiber you gain from the protein is great for keeping your insides on a regular schedule. Basically girls, you can forget about the constipation that often plagues menopausal women.

Let's talk dressing. What kind you choose can make or break your salad, so before you grab for the traditional type, you may want to grab the "light" versions. In so doing, you can shave 75 to 100 calories off, and reduce the fat content by six to ten grams, before you even take a bite.

If you'd like to take the full advantage of building your salad, make your own dressing. It only takes a minute or two longer to mix but the rewards will last as long as you do. Just mix extra-virgin olive oil, grape-seed oil, or flavored vinegar with a dry seasoning packet or your choice. By cutting the oil amount in half, you can decrease the calories without compromising the flavor.

Now that you've completed the bulk of your salad, it's time to add the "dessert" of it all. You know; those little nut pieces or seeds that just sound healthy in your mouth. However, be careful. Just like those little colorful sprinkles that adorn the top of a double chocolate cake covered with an inch of deep rich chocolate frosting, (ok, so my mind wandered there for a moment); as I was saying, just like too many of those sprinkles, too many nuts and seeds defeats the purpose, too.

By adding just a tablespoon or two of walnut pieces, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or pistachios, you can add a wonderful flavor and crunch to your salad to make it a meal instead of an introduction to it. It doesn't take many of these little nuggets before they gang up on you and increase the calories so much that they reverse all the thought and time you've put into your whole salad! So, you want the healthy fat they offer, but without "Tootsie's roll" around the middle.

When the cookies, chips, or pastry looks good, or you just want a snack to tide you over until mealtime, reach for the bag of salad you've already mixed up. Grab the dressing you blended and eat healthy, both for your overall health, and all the menopause symptoms it will help to relieve. Your mom was right, you know.
About the Author
Dawn M. Olsen is an Advocate for Better Women's Health through Education. Visit Menopause A to Z if you need to find out more about how to approach your menopause symptoms and life post menopause .
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