What’s to like about menopause? Honestly? Not a cotton picking thing. Okay… there is one thing. I am no longer allergic to cats.
My allergy to cats has been something I have had to contend with all my life, and, since I absolutely adore the little fur balls, I had simply learned not to put my face in, or even near, their fur. But all that has changed.
I have always wanted to have a cat as a pet, but lifestyle never allowed for it ~ until now. And as allergies are something, to my mind, to ignore and at worst to medicate, the first opportunity I had to get a cat, I did.
When we went to collect our kitten, Gigi, it took awhile to register that no medication was needed. You cannot fathom my amazement. And thereafter I cannot get enough of burying my face in her fur, all with nary a sniffle, watery eye or itch. Absolutely Amazing.
Then there is the flip side, as there always is one. I am allergic now, it seems to me, to everything else. I first really noticed a few years ago when spring was springing. A time when my normal hay fever season was showing its head. Except this time I was constantly sneezing and blowing my nose. And I mean constantly. The recycling bin was filled with empty tissue boxes. This was way beyond my normal hay fever.
We set about trying to figure out what to do as otherwise I seemed to have to constantly be in a doped stupor just to get my nose to stop. In the end it funnelled down to 2 primary things; food and menopause. And, in consequence, both myself and Pumpjack have ended up healthier, thinner and with more energy than we ever had before. And almost no allergy symptoms.
Pumpjack had been researching foods and their impact on brain functions. (Hey, what can I say he is a mad scientist geek extraordinaire.) And as he learned more, this branched into how food affects the body in general. That old adage, you are what you eat turns out to be very seriously true.
I meanwhile had found that menopause is supposed to heighten and exacerbate allergies – oh goody gumdrops. Somewhere in between, our various researches met. Actually, I think it had more to do with self-preservation for Pumpjack. By helping me find a solution, he (we) would find some much needed peace.
We eliminated foods, then added them in slowly seeing what affects they had. And found some very specific culprits… lactose, gluten and carbohydrates, e.g. starches. Oh, and coffee.
For me, lactose has always been an inherited problem. Both my Mum and Grandmother have the same issue. So no surprises there. Menopause has not made it worse, but has changed the symptoms. Weird.
One of the magnanimous things about menopause is it can exaggerate issues you already have. Gluten and I had never really gotten on, but for the sake of carrot cake we managed to get by.
I did discover that by seriously limiting my gluten intake I gained a huge amount of energy. However, when in France, I do treat myself to the odd baguette or pastry. (Weirdly, yeast driven gluten affects me less than non-risen.) Now I notice the sleepy, draggy feeling almost immediately after. But that’s a good excuse for a nap. So I plan it that way. A treat all around.
And as for carbohydrates, for me, it leads to joint pain. I was waking up in the mornings and hobbling about until my body got going, and couldn’t figure out what was going on.
Then we eliminated pulses (lentils, beans, chickpeas…), rice and nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers…). And, oh my goodness, did I notice the difference! After reintroducing slowly, I found pulses and rice are now on my naughty list. And my favourite home grown Elodie potatoes can only make an appearance on our plates every now and then.
As someone who loves, and I mean loves, pizza this is a treble whammy (lactose, gluten and nightshade). This is probably the one thing I find the hardest. Especially as Friday night is normally pizza night here in the village. Now, for me, it can’t be an every week occurrence. But when we do have it, it is truly savoured.
This is the key note. By limiting these, and other culprits, to now and then, not only are they very real treats, they also now have a less detrimental impact.
As for coffee, it was my sure trigger for hot flushes, particularly in combination with any of the above eaten during the day. But if I limited my coffee consumption to before mid-day, I only had the odd warm moment right after drinking it. And as I limit my other nasties, even these warm moments have dissipated.
Recognizing and managing all of the above, I have had no night sweats. Try it, you may like it. Well, at least feel a little better, and possibly sneeze a lot less. And be aware, what affects one, does not necessarily affect another the same way. You have to find your own triggers.
So although menopause is a pain in, well, the whole body, and I wouldn’t wish it on any woman (or man) because of it, I now feel much healthier. I have more energy, no brain fog and can bury my face in cat fur.
Our food discovery journey has led to shifting to a simpler lifestyle and has truly helped with all of the above. Growing our own food, not buying pre-made foods, and cooking from scratch have made a world of difference. So irrespective of whether you are in, nearing, or past menopause, I can truly recommend becoming more aware of what you eat. Your body and brain will thank you.
So along those lines, here are some other food write ups, that include recipes, that may help or inspire you. I hope.