Do you get hot flashes?
Are they mostly at night?
Do they set the bed on fire (but not in that way)?
Let's get you some solutions!
Before we do that, just some quick info on why hot flashes occur so we can try to effect the root cause of these hormonal symptoms.
What causes hot flashes?
As you can imagine it's all about hormonal balance (or imbalance).
During the menstruating years your estrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month.
When it gets to the point where your estrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH.
And guess what your body's response to this is?
It releases adrenaline!
This causes your body to heat up for a few minutes until it cools itself back down.
What triggers hot flashes?
You may have already identified some of the triggers of your hot flashes. Perhaps they're related to the food and drinks you consume (e.g. coffee, spicy foods, sugar, citrus fruit, large meals).
Maybe they're related to lifestyle factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, smoking, certain medications or intense exercise).
Or maybe they get worse as your weight slowly climbs (higher BMI)? Did you know that some menopausal women who lost weight were able to eliminate their hot flashes? Win-win!
Let's reduce those hot flash triggers naturally, shall we?
Food #1 – Flax
Flax contains a “phytoestrogen” named “lignan”. Phyto (plant) estrogens are thought to help our bodies better balance hormones by mimicking them and binding to certain hormone receptors.
Flax also contains fibre and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Both are powerhouses for better gut and heart health, additional benefit!
But here's where it gets interesting.
One study looked at thousands of women who experienced at least 14 hot flashes per week. Researchers had them add four tablespoons of flax meal to their day.
Yes, just four tablespoons.
After 6 weeks the number of hot flashes they had dropped in half and the intensity of those hot flashes dropped by more than half!
Scientists think that's due mostly to the lignan content of flax seeds.
That's some super-food!
It's also pretty easy to increase your intake of flax. You can add one or two tablespoons into your smoothie or sprinkle it on just about anything (breakfast, salad, nut butters, etc.). Not to mention how easy it is to add to your baking. (Hint, see recipe below).
Pro Tip: Flax seeds should be ground up in order to get most of their benefits because much of the healthy compounds in them are securely stored beneath the hard outer shell.
Food #2 – Water
OK, maybe this is more of a “drink” than a food but hear me out.
When you get hot flashes you're losing more water than you normally would. Similarly to when you exercise.
Make sure you replace those critical fluids by drinking enough water. A good habit is to make sure that you don’t get to the point of feeling overly thirsty by keeping a bottle, glass, or cup beside you all day long for frequent sips.
Water is definitely something to add (or increase) to your daily intake when you're experiencing hot flashes.
There are two critical things you should do if you experience hot flashes: increase your intake of both flax and water.
Recipe (flax): Gluten-Free Oatmeal Muffins
1 banana (very ripe)
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup coconut sugar (optional)
½ cup flax meal*
¼ cup oat flour* or other gluten-free flour
½ cup oats (gluten-free)
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup nuts, cacao nibs, dark chocolate or carob chips (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 F and line 6 muffin tins.
Add banana, oil, egg, and sugar (if using) into your blender and blend until smooth.
In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (oats, flax meal, gluten-free flour, and baking soda).
Add wet ingredients into dry and stir. Do not over mix.
Add nuts, cacao nibs, dark chocolate or carob chips, if using.
Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 min.
Serve & Enjoy!
*Tip: You can blend flax and/or oats to make your own freshly ground flax meal or oat flour.
You are positive that you're not eating more food or “junkier” food but you're still gaining weight.
Is this even possible?
Yes, and you are NOT alone.
In my practice, over 30% of my clients who have struggled with unplanned weight gain have reported no changes in diet, but continue to gain weight.
And here's why.
We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight.
There's definitely more to the story than just what you're eating, right?
A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat.
Let's dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you're eating the same.
Funny things happen the older we get. People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.
Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women. And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.
The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit.
Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain. There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.
When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. And when your digestive system and metabolism slows down you can gain weight. Even though you're eating the same way you always have.
Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested. I recommend testing beyond the standard TSH test and include Free T4 and Free T3 for a more complete picture. Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.
There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.
And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night's sleep.
The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.
It's true! Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain. Studies have shown that a single night of interrupted sleep can increase daytime cortisol levels which can trigger carb cravings and increase irritability.
Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?
Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night. The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine. Try applying Lavender Essential Oil combined with fractionated coconut oil and rub into the bottom of your feet. It smell heavenly and promotes relaxation.
It seems to be everywhere! So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.
And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?
While you can't necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.
Pro Tip: Try meditation or yoga. Or even mindful eating. What about those new adult colouring books that are all the rage now?
There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you're eating the same way you always have. Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you're eating the same way you always have.
Recipe (Thyroid friendly iodine): Seaweed Sushi Bowl
1 cup cooked rice
1 avocado (thinly sliced)
½ cucumber (diced)
½ red pepper (thinly sliced)
1 green onion (chopped)
2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ garlic clove
dash salt and pepper
Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.
Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.
Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: This is a great lunch to take on the go. Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.
Yes, while I always say that it's better to get your nutrients from food first sometimes supplements are necessary.
Unfortunately there are just some all-too-common nutrients that we simply don't get enough of. And they're absolutely critical to optimal health and wellness. Especially as we age.
Here I sifted through the supplements that are available on the market and boiled them down to three that can have the best effect for us.
Supplement #1: Vitamin D
If you live in North America chances are you are low in vitamin D. It's the “sunshine vitamin” and we just aren't able to hang out in shorts every day of the year. Even if we did we'd wisely use a bit of sun protection too.
Vitamin D is very important for everyone but especially women over 45. Want to know why?
It helps to protect our bones!
Vitamin D helps our body absorb and keep the calcium we get from our food and drinks. And we all know that calcium is one of the main things our bones are made of.
Want to know something funny about vitamin D (but it's true, I swear)?
People who get enough vitamin D tend to fall less frequently. Especially as we get older.
Vitamin D can help your bones stay strong and help you fall less. Win-win!
Supplement #2 Magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral needed for over 300 reactions in your body.
As with vitamin D it's very common for us to simply not get enough. Not even the 320 mg per day that's recommended.
Low levels of magnesium have been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, low bone density, and even migraines.
Magnesium is found in so many healthy whole foods like beans, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables. In fact, the magnesium element is central to a plant's chlorophyll – it's actually what causes green plants to be green! And most of us just don't get enough green plants into our bodies on a regular basis. (You know I have a recipe with green leafies for you below, right?).
Magnesium is a very common supplement and is often added to multivitamins.
Supplement #3 Omega-3s
We've all heard that we need to get more omega-3 essential fatty acids, right? They're good for our hearts, brains, and help to reduce inflammation.
These are all good things when it comes to our health and wellness.
But not all of us are ready, willing, and able to eat fish three times per week.
While fish oil supplements contain the “brain healthy” fats called EPA and DHA, those two are not technically the “essential” fats. The plant omega-3 known as ALA is essential and that is because our bodies can convert ALA into EPA and DHA when necessary.
Omega-3 supplements can be found in forms of flax oil, algae oil, fish oil, or even fish liver oil.
Pro Tip: Fish liver oil (e.g. cod liver oil) also contains vitamin D so check your labels and add the amounts together to know how much vitamin D you're actually getting.
Three supplements to consider now that you're 45 are: vitamin D, magnesium, and omega-3s.
Always read the supplement labels to see if there are warnings that would make them inappropriate for you. And, of course if you have any medical conditions or take medications or other supplements it's always a good idea to speak with your doctor before starting anything new.
Recipe (Vitamin D, Magnesium & Omega-3s):
Salmon Quinoa Buddha Bowl
4 cups baby spinach
1 cup quinoa (cooked)
1 can wild salmon
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
½ red onion (diced) (optional)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
dash salt and pepper
Split spinach, quinoa, wild salmon, sesame seeds, and onion (if using) between two bowls.
Mix sesame oil, rice vinegar, and lemon juice together and pour on top of prepared Buddha bowls.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: When looking for canned salmon try to get the ones with the most vitamin D and make sure cans are BPA-free. Good quality canned fish is usually in the “natural foods” section of many large groceries.
Do you love your breakfast? Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes? Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?
Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it. So I'm going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favourite new “go-to” breakfasts.
Breakfast Food #1: Eggs
Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason!
No, I'm not talking about processed egg whites in a carton. I mean actual whole “eggs”.
Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats.
Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin.
Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you're running short on time.
And...nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases.
One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized. It's the oxidized cholesterol that's heart unhealthy.
Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds
Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.
You won't be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I'm talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here.
Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you're running late in the mornings. Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you're running out the door; you can nosh on them while you're commuting.
Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie.
Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender & blend until frothy.
Breakfast Food #3: Veggies
Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies. You know I would be remiss to not recommend veggies at every meal, right?
Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water. You can't go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don't already you should definitely try them for breakfast!
And no, you don't need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don't want to but you totally can! You wouldn't be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that.
Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal. Including breakfast.
I've included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast.
Recipe (Eggs & Veggies): Veggie Omelet
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?)
¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers)
dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric
Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred).
In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices.
Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring.
When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny.
Serve & Enjoy!
Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favourite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.
Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing. From the holiday office parties, family gatherings and then...New Year's Eve parties.
And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.
It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.
But it doesn't always stop there.
Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time.
Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.
(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)
Tip #1: Start with some water
When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.
But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.
Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin').
Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.
Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”
You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?
This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.
Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.
Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.
When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.
So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.
Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.
Tip #3: Start with the salad
You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.
But don't start there.
(Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad).
Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.
Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They're “satiating”.
And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.
Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.
Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas
If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:
Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.
It's snowing outside, and I was craving something warming and nutritious. I am not usually a fan of "creamy" soups as I avoid dairy, so I decided to transform this traditional comfort soup making it vegan and gluten free.
It far exceeded my taste buds expectations, and I hope you enjoy this as much as I. Oh, and guess what, I made this in 5 minutes using my blender! Yup, super quick and simple. Gotta love that!
Cream of Broccoli Soup
Serves 4. Vegan, Gluten Free, Yeast Free.
Wash and chop broccoli and cauliflower into florets if using fresh. I used frozen and simply steamed these along with the celery until fork tender.
Heat vegetable stock on stove if using store bought (or your own homemade). I used HarvestSun Organic Vegetable Bouillon Cubes, which are vegan, gluten and yeast free. Add 2 cups boiled water to a blender along with 1 bouillon cube.
Add in cooked vegetables and MCT oil, seal lid tightly. This is going to be hot, so trust me you want to make sure the lid is on good and hold the top down while you blend. Mix well until smooth on soup setting if using a Blend-Tec or simply pulse to desired texture. You could also use a food processor for this. Emulsion blender is not recommended as it will not make it smooth and you risk splashing hot soup all over.
Season with sea salt and black pepper to taste. Garnish with a TSP of hemp hearts. Enjoy!
There you have it, simple and delicious - and gone! Yup, I just couldn't resist.
Confession, I ate up all 4 servings over the course of the day and drank fresh vegetable juice in between my soups to give my digestive system a bit of a break. I am not much of a calorie counter, but rather encourage eating whole unprocessed foods, easy to digest protein, healthy fats, and plenty of fiber. This prevents over eating and therefore, reduces overall caloric intake supporting digestion and body metabolism.
Do you enjoy soup as much as I do? Please let me know how this one turns out for you or if you have a favourite of your own.
Deep orange in color, sweet potatoes provide and excellent source of beta-carotene. A native of peru, sweet potatoes are often mistakenly called "yams," and belong to the morning glory plant family. This is good news to those avoiding the nightshade family of foods, to which the white potato belong. Nightshades contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid naturally occuring in tomatoes, eggplant, paprika, and peppers. When consumed in large amounts on regular basis, some individuals run the risk of developing arthritis-like symptoms.
Sweet potatoes not only contain beta-carotene, but also copper, zinc, B6, vitamin C and superoxide dismutase or SOD. Easy to prepare, simply baking until soft and serving with a pat of butter and pinch of sea salt or cinnamon, these tubers are healthy and yummy for the whole family.
Scalloped Sweet Potatoes
Flax Egg Instructions:
Maple Oat Muffin Instructions:
Maple Crumble Ingredients:
My 3 year daughter and I love baking together. We were in the mood for muffins and came up with this one together. A fun activity with toddlers who love to get a little messy and work with their hands. These vegan muffins are moist and delicious as a breakfast with a cup of herbal tea or as an anytime snack.
Does your toddler love to bake? If so, I would love to hear what kind.
This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.
You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?
Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.
Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.
Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.
Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.
This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).
The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.
There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.
The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.
What affects your metabolic rate?
In a nutshell: a lot!
The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.
But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.
How big you are counts too!
Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!
As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you're not working out.
This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.
The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.
Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.
The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!
Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).
You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.
Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.
Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.
And don't forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.
Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts
2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old
Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.
Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.
Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!
Healthy Zucchini Fritters (Gluten Free, Grain Free)
By Nancy Este, RNCP
2 large zucchini, grated
2 TBSP coconut flour
¼ cup purple onion, finely diced
¼ TSP pink himalayan sea salt
1/8 TSP fresh black pepper
3 TBSP Coconut oil for cooking
Nancy Este is a Registered Yoga Teacher and Certified Nutritional Practitioner. She is here to share with you over 17 years of experience in the Alternative Health field. It is her hope to help save you time, money and stress when it comes to regaining your balance in life.