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Celebrity Health – Lisa Snowdon

TV and radio presenter Lisa Snowdon talks about her own experience of the menopause and offers some natural tips and advice

Image of Lisa Snowdon © Matt Hollyoak

If you aren’t quite there yet, or you think you might be heading that way soon, the first thing I’d like to say about perimenopause is that it isn’t something to be fearful of.

So please, don’t be scared to investigate it; when it does hit you, you’ll be so glad you read up about it, as being aware of how things might change for you is really the best preparation there is. There are roughly 60 symptoms that we know about at the moment. You might be familiar with the more typical ones, such as hot flushes/flashes and night sweats, as well as erratic cycles or no periods at all, but there are also many lesser known symptoms, meaning that women are suffering and struggling for longer than they need to because they don’t recognise or register that how they are feeling is hormone related. When you know what is going on, it’s much easier to make changes and understand what you need to do to make life easier.

Creating a diet that works for you

I notice a huge difference in both my energy and my body, depending on what I eat. I know how important it is to eat well for optimum health, and that eating well is about focusing on a diet rich in variety.

We’re encouraged to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, but I think we can consume much more. Think of your plate as a rainbow of foods and know that the more colour you incorporate, the better. I eat as many colourful and water-rich foods as possible, including pomegranates, cucumber, asparagus, kale, spinach, cauliflower, radishes, beetroot and peppers (any colour). All of these are rich in antioxidants and help your skin by preventing or slowing down cell damage.

In total, you should try to include around 30 different plant-type foods into your diet each week. Remember nuts, seeds and pulses all count, as well as all the different herbs and spices, so throw them all into your food, as they not only give it good flavour, but also help to keep your gut healthy, healing you from within.

I always start the day with a hot/warm water with lemon. This is a fantastic way to wake the body up and flush the system through; in short, it gives the body an internal massage, which is great for the organs. I often make myself a healthy juice using ginger, celery, carrots, beetroot and lemon, or blitz up an almond-milk smoothie with blueberries, half a banana and a handful of gluten-free oats.

Everything in moderation

Good fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds and olive oil are amazing at moisturising the skin from the inside and are good for you and your complexion (in moderation, of course). Protein-rich foods are also important for the production of collagen, so I make sure I include eggs, salmon and lean meats, but I do try to avoid refined carbs most of the week – I swap out white rice for brown, or quinoa, which is more protein than carbohydrate. As much as I adore them, I swap out potatoes for sweet potatoes or squash, and I limit indulging my potato cravings to once a week. It’s the same with pasta, pizza and bread. So again, it’s about moderation and being sensible, but also allowing myself a treat every now and again.

And don’t forget the power of water – it energises the cells in our bodies, helps with digestion and flushes out toxins and fats from our systems. I aim for a couple of litres of water a day, and when I’m feeling tired, I reach for a big glass of H2O to perk me up instead of endless cups of coffee.

I avoid snacking as much as possible and concentrate on having three good meals a day packed full of goodness to keep me satisfied for longer and less likely to want to reach for the chocolate mid-afternoon.

Spreading the word

Half the battle with perimenopause is not recognising yourself and not understanding what’s happening. For so many years, women have had to suffer in silence, ashamed of this change in their bodies, their hormones and their mental state. For me, that’s not acceptable, and I now feel so positive about the changes I’ve gone through that I am determined to spread the word; we must talk about this on a daily basis and shout it from the rooftops, until everybody gets it, until there are menopause policies in place in every workplace and menopause specialists in every GP surgery, and until children understand what’s happening to their teachers, their grandmas or even their mums. That’s when I’ll feel that it is no longer a taboo subject.

Extracted from Just Getting Started by Lisa Snowdon (£16.99, Harper Collins)

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