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I am a New Zealand registered nurse and nutritionist (Grad Cert Sci: nutrition, Massey Univ). I am a Certified Zone Instructor, and have worked teaching Zone diet principles to hundreds of clients over the last 10 years. More recently after finding that eating Paleo food choices was the "icing on the cake" health wise, I have become a Paleo enthusiast and teacher. Follow me on twitter @juliannejtaylor

Menopause sucks! Even on a Paleo diet

I’ve been hesitating to post about this topic again, and more specifically about me personally and menopause.hot_flashes

I’m officially post menopause. No menstrual cycle for 2 years now, or is it 3?

Somehow it’s a far more defining landmark in my life that turning 40, and then 50. I didn’t feel any different at those ages than I did at 30. Even now I still feel mid thirties. (I’d say in my 20’s, but due to my immature brain back then the 30’s are more appropriate.)

Menopause for me is filled with negative connotations and associations; hair turning grey, jaw line losing it’s definition, bodies sagging and thick around the middle. Butts disappearing and upper arms flapping. Brain power degenerating, and mind and willpower going soft.

And I imagine the world looking at us menopausal women and judging us as past our prime, no longer vibrant and attractive, less able, less dynamic, less smart. These changes marking the start of the long slow decline into old age and retirement.

Menopause is a turning point. My body is no longer fertile, hormone levels that keep us young and healthy decline dramatically with uncomfortable physical, psychological and cognitive consequences. Estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels in my body are now barely measurable. Everything I considered normal about myself has changed. While going through menopause, for a while I thought I’d lost my mind, I forgot where I put everything. When studying for exams, I couldn’t remember as easily as I used to be able to, it took so much more effort. When writing assignments, I struggled to keep a lot of ideas in my mind the way I could in the past.

Hot flushes which started out as “wow this is interesting” have become a tedious regular intrusion. Triggered by the smallest things – a small change of temperature, eating, drinking, feeling anxious, getting into bed, turning over in bed, putting on a jersey, feeling a ray of sun on my skin, my husband hugging me. Within seconds a heat wave swamps over me, however I can be grateful that they are short – usually less than a minute, rare – only 4-5 times a day, and they don’t keep me awake. (Women eating a paleo diet regularly report far less severe menopause symptoms)

More recently my strength has been dropping and my waistline expanding. I don’t feel as resilient or motivated, yet my visions and plans haven’t decreased at all. They just seem to be staying longer in my head or on my ‘to-do’ list rather than becoming reality. Menopause causes one to take stock, as the inevitable fact of body aging becomes all to close for comfort, the reality of less time left on this earth, or should I say less productive time left is a frequent thought.

Yet – I have no plans to retire, nutrition is a passion that I’m consumed by, and I want to learn and contribute as much as I can while my brain is still working. I love learning, and push myself to continue doing post grad papers. I marvel at young women completing a PG Dip in a year, when it will take me 4. I remember how in my late 20’s I did the same, whilst working weekends to support myself in London (PG Dip in design for disability, a career I did for 10 years in my 30’s). But then I had no children, now we have teens, one of whom we are trying to avert from a life of crime. I like to work at least part-time, and have the household to look after, as my husband works 12 hour days. I’m no superwoman, and handling stress is not my thing, I’d rather slow down than feel I have cram in everything to the detriment of my health and sanity.

So whilst menopause has treated me pretty well – it still sucks, hot flushes are annoying, the brain not being as sharp is scary.Losing strength is frustrating as well. I’m trying a low dose testosterone cream which is helping a lot with brain and strength.

A thickening waist has had me reassess my diet once again. Whereas an unmeasured balanced paleo diet worked before, now I’ve gone back to a fairly accurate Zone diet portion control with regular 3 meals a day, and no snacks. It’s working. One aspect of menopause for me is less appetite control, probably associated with hormonal changes that cause more insulin resistance. The smaller high protein regular meals are helping here and I’m not hungry.

Muscle mass matters a lot: fat-free mass decreases and fat mass increases after menopause, so the only way to counteract this is by keeping up weight resistant exercise – i.e. lift as heavy as you can and stay strong, and don’t be scared about getting bulked up – you won’t.

The other scary change for me has been a worsening of my thyroid, I now have to take thyroxine (which works just fine) and a scary increase in LDL cholesterol. More about this in another post.

If you are a woman going through menopause and you are on a paleo diet – how have you been getting on? I’d love to hear your experience.


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72 Responses to “Menopause sucks! Even on a Paleo diet”

  1. Debbie #

    I have to say I feel better than ever at age 58 eating Paleo. That’s because I was obese until age 32, and then maintained an 80 pound weight loss on bad diets. It’s only this year, incredibly, that I upped my protein and fat intake to make a crucial difference in energy and mental well being. So, I don’t have a real comparison; I’m just grateful to be feeling this good.

    February 6, 2014 at 2:36 pm Reply
  2. charles grashow #

    Have you considered BHRT? You probably some testosterone

    February 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm Reply
    • Yes – I’ve been using testosterone cream for tha last month, it has definitely helped with strength and feeling more positive, feel like my brain is more normal, the way it used to be. Also libido back to where it was 10 years ago.

      February 6, 2014 at 5:29 pm Reply
      • Jennyct #

        I have been struggling with all of the above, especially the ability to gain a pound a day on thin air.

        It worries me that the loss of sex drive is almost completely brushed aside, with many physicians and web sites poo-pooing low estrogen as the culprit and suggesting counseling!

        Personally, I’d be the first in line to grab the testosterone if it weren’t for a superficial venous thromobosis (blood clot) I had a few years back. It was like a rubber band under my skin that actually ‘broke’ when I stretched.

        I wish there was another alternative.

        September 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm Reply
  3. Louise #

    Hi Julianne,

    I’m 45 and also post-menopausal. I’ve been eating paleo/primal for 2.5 years. My hot flashes are just like yours; brief and infrequent. I feel my diet is responsible for that benefit! In order to counteract increasing fatigue and generally slowing metabolism, I’ve experimented with a primal + ketogenic diet. I find it unsustainable in the long term, so I tend to eat keto for a week or two, and then revert to paleo. My energy is much more reliably constant when I cut the carbs, and I think it improves my insulin resistance. It also helped me easily drop the extra flab that was starting to creep on. The other thing that bothers me greatly with menopause is poor sleep, and having my eyes fly open after a mere 45 minutes. The extra fat/satiety that goes along with a ketogenic diet GREATLY helped my insomnia (as did moving away from Chch, but that’s a whole other anxiety issue!).

    I haven’t had my cholesterol tested yet in the past 6 months since starting keto, so I’m a little nervous about that. I’m looking forward to reading about your LDL issues!

    February 6, 2014 at 3:09 pm Reply
    • Rosalie #

      Louise, if you haven’t already done so, read up on cholesterol before you get yours tested. Malcolm Kendricks’ The Great Cholesterol Co is a good start. Then when you get your results you can interpret them for your GP if necessary. Get your GP to send the results to you before you see her/him so you can get to grips with the figures.

      My recent cholesterol test showed a very high total (which is meaningless), very low triglycerides, extremely high HDL, and therefore excellent ratios. As soon as my GP opened her mouth I said that I was very happy with the figures, especially the low triglycerides. She made a note on my file and dropped the subject. I think GPs are obliged to trot out the party line on cholesterol unless you cover their back. by saying that your are happy with your figures.

      February 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm Reply
    • I take magnesium every night and that helps with my sleep. Occasionally I resort to a small dose of melatonin, about 1mg which knocks me out.
      Stress keeps me awake – so i try to keep my life balanced and less stressed, also getting exercise and sunlight in the day is important for me

      February 7, 2014 at 9:27 am Reply
    • My LDL went really high – saturated fat can do this in some people. I took out coconut oil, coconut cream and butter. Use mainly monounsat fat like olive oil and macadamia oil. Increased carbs – starch like kumara, and ate leaner meat. It has dropped down a lot – although still a bit high. Doctor is not worried though.

      September 12, 2014 at 9:07 am Reply
      • Hi there, I just found this accidentally and am loving it. Thanks!
        My FSH was 7.1 in Oct and is now a 31.0 in April.
        I am wondering if keto/paleo has anything to do with this…

        Also my total cholesterol is 236 mg/dL
        My triglycerides 126 mg/dL
        HDl choleserol is 50 mg/dL
        LDL is 161 mg/dL

        I am now considering taking the low dose statin prescribed to me( have not yet)

        I am thinking about cutting out coconut oil and trying to lean it out some, because this stuff scares me.
        Would love your thoughts!

        April 27, 2016 at 6:11 pm Reply
  4. Monica #

    High Five Girlfriend!!! I’m 51, post hysterectomy left ovaries, but oddly enough have more pms type symptoms then menopausal. I started keto 2/5/2013 and got off track this last January. Crazy how I made it through the holidays and Then crashed and burned. I can’t wait to get back into ketosis. It totally tames my appetite. For me stress, lack of sleep= crash and burn. Whats frustrating is hearing the advice to ‘decrease your stress’ . . well, somethings aren’t ‘decreasable.’ πŸ˜› But, spring is coming and I think things should calm down to as soon as I get some fumes in my tank, I’m off! Thanks for your work and all the effort to keep this going. πŸ™‚

    February 6, 2014 at 3:58 pm Reply
    • I get the sometimes it is hard to decrease stress. I have had to relax on study and work in order to deal with the stress of a teenager getting into major trouble.

      February 7, 2014 at 9:29 am Reply
  5. jolanda #

    Omg lmao it is so recognizable…. Started Paleo January 1st and of course fell off the wagon a couple of times (especially during weekends).
    I’d like to believe that eventually the menopausal effects will fade.
    As of now I can truly say I feel different leaving out wheat’s… but ask me again in a few months.
    Absolutely loved your post πŸ˜€

    February 6, 2014 at 4:43 pm Reply
    • Going paleo and cutting gluten made a massive difference to me. I’d never go back

      February 7, 2014 at 9:30 am Reply
      • Lisa #

        Just reading your posts. I too am post menopausal at 46 which really sucks. I have been on a hormone therapy which I feel helped with my 20 pound weight gain. I am going to go off and see how i feel. I have celiacs so completely gluten free and just started the Paleo diet. I have seen a 4 pound decrease already in 5 days. So far I don’t feel any different but partially that is because my gut doesn’t haven’t to heal. I am hoping the diet helps with the menopause symptoms. Any further advice would be great! Your article for me was spot on!! Especially the libido!!!

        August 26, 2015 at 1:30 pm Reply
  6. Kat #

    Have you had an iodine loading test to check for deficiency? Two books that may be of interest in this regard:


    February 6, 2014 at 5:09 pm Reply
    • I haven’t had an iodine loading test – I have Hashimotos. I take a little iodine each day with selenium and zinc. When I took iodine in the amounts that these doctors reccomended I had serious thyroid inflammation, which is common with Hashimotos.

      February 6, 2014 at 5:57 pm Reply
      • Kat #

        Thanks Julianne. I have to admit, the thought of taking big doses makes me nervous. I have booked in for an iodine loading test and will take it from there. I don’t have any thyroid issues that I know of but want to correct a deficiency if I have one to help my digestive issues (some people have success with that) and prevent breast cancer (I get painful breasts and I have been exposed to quite a bit of fluoride and bromine in my life).

        Did you take a lot of iodine at once or did you titrate up slowly?

        February 7, 2014 at 8:57 am Reply
        • I did it the wrong way – took a lot straight off. I may try again and titrate it up very slowly. But as far as I can see – taking the RDA is perfectly adequate for health.

          February 7, 2014 at 9:31 am Reply
  7. Rosalie #

    A couple of friends swear by Maca for menopausal symptoms. Anyone tried it?

    I take Maca powder from time to time and it gives me a definite energy boost. I ‘m post-menopausal however, so can’t comment on its other effects.

    February 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm Reply
    • Yes – I’ve tried Maca, it does help a little

      February 7, 2014 at 9:32 am Reply
  8. Kelly B #

    This sounds quite familiar! I’ve been LC Paleo/Primal (I eat dairy) going on 4 years, and started perimenopause symptoms (specifically hot flashes) about 3 years ago. My symptoms ebb and flow; I can go 6 months without a flash and then spend several months absolutely miserable. Unfortunately, I realized earlier this week that I’m not quite in full on menopause yet. On the other hand, the arrival of a menstrual period did kill off a horrible series of carb cravings that, looking back, I’ve been fighting since November (and not winning; I gained 5 pounds).

    Since I made the diet changes a year before the hot flashes started, I don’t know how it affected them – but if this is “better”, I’m sure glad I never experienced “worse”! My flash episodes also last under a minute, I’d say, but are accompanied by a feeling of weakness and malaise and have been known to fire in excess of 20 times during the day and who knows how often at night – when they subside, I sleep pretty well, but when they’re in full force, I kiss the sleep good bye. I’ve tried a few herbal/OTC remedies – black cohosh, genistein – but really didn’t see any improvements.

    The Paleo dietary changes helped me lose 50 pounds in the first year; since then, I’ve gained 14 back (9 over 2 years, 5 over the past 3 months). I’ve noticed that losing weight in my current state is nearly impossible, but am relieved to see most of it on my hips and thighs.

    I’ve noticed the muscle weakness most within the last year, and have started back at the gym to get that sorted – so far, so good, but I have a stressy job and long commute, so haven’t been very consistent about it. There are days I’d like to retire to my kitchen and become a cuddly and chubby grandma in an apron, but I won’t – overall, my health is so much improved since I started with Paleo, I can’t give that up.

    February 7, 2014 at 4:40 am Reply
    • I have that feeling too – retiring to the kitchen and getting cuddly – it lasts for a few days, and I cant bear the extra malaise and feeling that I’m giving up. Plus I’m on a mission to see if I can keep from looking and feeling old!

      February 7, 2014 at 9:34 am Reply
  9. Allison #

    Julianne, I am 54, Finally done w/ menopause, but feel Much better with Sottopelle estrogen/ testosterone pellets inserted in hip. It lasts ~ 6 mos, which is Very convenient & effective for busy women. I do think it is important to use something considered “bioidentical” & to avoid taking estrogen pills since they pass through the liver. (I had previously used “Vivelle dot patches w/ good results. But, testosterone would need to be taken separately). The only downside of Sotto Pelleis that it is ~ expensive.

    I have also found Armour Thyroid to be better than Levothyroixine. I love to lift weights, so that and lowering my carbs more have brought me back to pre perimenopausal weight & even shape. I have been Paleo for 2.5 years, & realized that I had cut my carbs Too much in the last 5 months because my husband has been on a paleo-ketogenic diet. I was losing too much weight & feeling bad tempered . So, I have added in more berries and resistant starches, like sweet potatoes with butter. I feel Much better now. The only other thought is if you are at your desk long enough, to add a Tread desk.

    I do think that the hormone replacement and more Sleep help with meno symptoms and the brain fog. Also, this is a good time to “let go” of the things that aren’t all that important, and cut yourself some slack. Messy house…hire someone or decide “so what?” You are spinning a lot of plates; give yourself permission to not sweat the small stuff.

    February 7, 2014 at 5:31 am Reply
    • Fortunately I sleep really well – a solid 8 hours a night. I’m with you on the carbs – I feel much better with some starch and less fat.
      I talked to my holistic doc about armour thyroid – but I am converting T4 to T3 really well, so she says it probably wont make a difference.
      I have a standing desk and am getting used to more time using it standing. I’ll look at the tread so I can walk as wall.

      I dont think the pellets are available in NZ.

      February 7, 2014 at 9:38 am Reply
  10. Stephanie #

    Hi Julianne

    I just finished going through menopause. I must say I really don’t notice a big difference. I occasionally have what I call a warm flash and sometimes mild sleeping problems.

    I’ve been dealing with Raynaud’s for over 15 years, and I’ve spent so many years feeling freaking cold. Feeling warm occasionally is almost nice, although sometimes I’ll have a raynaud’s attack while feeling warm…..

    Still not too bad. I can’t gain weight. I’ve tried (BMI~18.3).

    So for me not much difference. Sleep may be a bit worse, but the raynauds is a bit better.

    Has your raynauds improved?

    February 7, 2014 at 6:48 am Reply
    • I think the thyroid meds have improved Raynauds. It is minimal now. definitely improved.

      February 7, 2014 at 9:41 am Reply
  11. cindy #

    I think menopause is different for everyone and you just have to go through it. Also, bio identical hormones just postpone the process, FYI. And…a hormone is a hormone, “bio identical” or not, even though its very trendy right now…be careful ladies.

    March 17, 2014 at 10:53 am Reply
  12. Kayla #

    Thanks so much for posting on this topic. I’m 45, post full hysterectomy including ovaries. I’ve been on Paleo since a couple months before my surgery, so a little over a year. My weight was awesome until about 5 months ago. I am gaining weight ridiculously. Hot flashes relentless. I eat zero wheat, and rarely eat corn or rice. No other grains. I eat yogurt and berries or seasonal fruit. Eggs, sardines, bacon, sausage, ground beef/lamb/pork, greens, squash, decaf coffee and half and half. I also recently developed painful swelling in my finger joints especially in the morning, so now I’ve cut out nightshades – which is the hardest restriction I’ve ever done. I’m about to try a 3 month course of Amberen, because I’m desperate. I do dance and yoga several times a week. I’m feeling so frustrated. I have the healthiest diet of anyone I know, I am super disciplined, I work out, and yet, it’s all NOT ENOUGH. I’m also feeling conflicted with my body image. I’m trying to love my body, but in our thin-obsessed culture, I’m as subject to feeling bad about my body as I was in my teens.
    Thank you so much for posting. It helps to know I’m not alone in this. None of my close friends are going through this yet….

    August 13, 2014 at 2:22 am Reply
    • Hard to know what is going on – but sounds like it may be a reaction to the sudden menopuase – maybe work with a paleo / menopause / holitic medicine / functional medicine specialist – some women benefit from biodentical hormone replacement. I see women even on paleo who need this. But I don’t know what is going on for you – it could be many things – best to see someone who can test etc

      August 14, 2014 at 11:28 am Reply
  13. CJ #

    oh… I think I have found my new peer group πŸ™‚ beads of sweat appearing on my elbows during a hot flash is the most embarassing thing- or maybe it’s the chin hair.

    Upping my good fats has helped with the hot flashes, but this spreading middle is ridiculous.
    I have chronic stress ( an adult son with a disabilty & two teens still at home) that waxes and wanes.

    Any suggesions on a good progesterone cream that works? When I google, I get 1000’s of ads, not much substance.

    August 14, 2014 at 3:34 pm Reply
    • stress is a killer for menopause in my observation – it increases all the hot flushes etc. Try to do the best you can – eat well, sleep as much as you can and do anything to reduce stress. I have a teen boy issue. Alos i’ve found testosterone cream is wonderful, I dont use progresterone or estrogen. I lift heavy weights and do sprints and long walks. Keeping muscle and bone mass up is imperative

      August 15, 2014 at 2:15 pm Reply
  14. Marty #

    May I ask what testosterone cream that you use? Do you have to have a prescription? You mentioned that it increased strength, energy, and libido, all of which have decreased since I entered menopause. My dr. put me on progesterone birth control pills (just for the next six months until we’re certain I’m infertile) and on a low dosage of Estradiol but said nothing about testosterone even though I expressed concerns about strength & libido. I, too, have had significant gains in my belly area even though my weight hasn’t increased much. However, with the difference in my belly, my clothes are far too tight. I agree with your “menopause sucks” title! Thanks so much for writing about this issue!

    August 24, 2014 at 2:05 pm Reply
    • I get a prescription from my doctor that gets fulfilled at the coumpounding pharmacy in Auckland

      September 12, 2014 at 9:25 am Reply
  15. meg #

    I am menopausal and like just about every other woman at this age, I am struggling with my waistline,inspite of clean eating, no wheat,grains or sugar. I work out with heavy weights at the gym which has improved my physique but I still have a pregnant looking tummy. I have done some research and am convinced that we become insulant resistant to various degrees during the hormonal shift. Looking back, I puzzled everyone in the prenatal clinic with my one and only pregnancy by stacking on weight far too quickly inspire of a good diet. While I wasn’t diagnosed with gestational diabetes I am sure I must have been sub clinical. The weight just fell off almost overnight after I delivered a larger than average baby. Now I see the connection and why my weight skyrocketed when I hit menopause inspite of the clean eating. Very frustrating. I have just started a course of Bergamet which is supposed to act like metaformin and curb blood sugar. Three weeks in plus a ketogenic diet and I think I might be getting somewhere. I hope so. I hate being a victim of my own biology. Inspite of normal blood sugar readings ( high end of normal) my fatty tummy shows all the hallmarks of metabolic syndrome. Go figure! I am trying to talk my doctor into prescribing metformin but my ‘normal’ blood sugars say otherwise.

    September 11, 2014 at 11:40 am Reply
    • I’ve been using testosterone cream and that has stopped the middle age spread, as well as doing weights, keeping my diet tight, paleo – zone balanced meals, and remefemin really helps the hot flushes.

      September 11, 2014 at 11:54 am Reply
    • Cynthia #

      Meg, you sound just like me. I had two very large babies, and I remember a nurse saying that I need to watch my glucose levels as I age. I did not have gestational diabetes, but I wonder if I was onthe border. I have the large waist too no matter how hard I try to get rid of it. It\\\’s two years after your response, but I would love to know how your weight is now.

      October 20, 2016 at 3:57 pm Reply
  16. Julianne L. #

    I’m not exactly sure what to write. I’m a Julianne, too! First, I’m 1 year past my last period. For 5 years I’ve watched my weight go up. 4 weeks ago, I started a keto diet…not sure exactly what paleo is. I;ve recently read Jimmy’s Keto Clarity book. I continue to go up and down 3 pounds. I’m afraid that I’m doing something wrong. I am having hot flashes during the day, but they are not debilitating. I am dedicated to reducing the stress of my high-stress teaching job, and I seem to be doing well. I exercise daily…30 minutes at 4.0 mph. Sleeping is OK, but I’m up a couple of times during the night. I didn’t know that this was “normal,” so these posts have been very, very helpful.

    Any counsel that anyone could give me would be so helpful. I only “need” to lose 20 pounds, and I really, really want to be healthy. I don’t think the doctors “get it!”

    September 23, 2014 at 8:35 am Reply
    • I’m back to eating paleo – zone balanced meals, lower in fat and moderate in carbs – these work for me. See the meals under paleo links recipes and meals tab – in the drop down menu. See if that works out for you too. To low carbs and high fat is not always the best solution – i am better on lower fat and moderate carbs, with root veg and berries

      September 24, 2014 at 1:51 pm Reply
      • Tracy #

        Hi! I’m in the same boat! I’m trying to find that macro balance. Would you please share what you have found to help lose the weight? I also have Hashi’s and am confused on how low carb to go? I’ve read too low of carb isn’t good for thyroid- can slow conversion process. Yet- as we go menopausal and have Hashi’s, were prone to body holding on to carbs and storing as fat? Also, what’s your take on calories. How donwe know if were under eating and “starving our bodies”?

        Thank you!!!

        October 6, 2014 at 4:08 am Reply
        • Tracy #

          Wrong email before..

          October 6, 2014 at 4:09 am Reply
        • I will update – but also found this great post – very similar to what I do

          October 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm Reply
          • Tracy #

            Do you take new clients? Would love to have a consultation– desperately need help :))

            October 9, 2014 at 3:53 pm
    • Marty #

      I’ve been doing low-carb/Paleo for a while, but I, too, just read Jimmy’s book & have started a ketogenic diet. I plan to buy a blood ketone meter in a couple of weeks to be sure I have achieved ketosis & then try to remain in that state for a couple of months to see if it helps. I’ll be interested to see if keto helps you, Julianne L.!

      September 24, 2014 at 1:54 pm Reply
  17. Kelly #

    I lost 40lbs when I was 46 and I went from a size 12 to a 6, I was SOOO happy and everyone was telling me how great I looked and I FELT great. NOW, I am 52, and when I hit 50 the weight started coming back on, now at 52 just 2yrs later, I’ve gained 20lbs back no matter WTF I do. I HATE MYSELF NOW. I am so upset, I’ve tried exercise and everything, I’ve even resorted to stupid Dr. Oz pill suggestions I’m so desperate. And still, NOTHING. I HATE MYSELF.

    Ladies, the only thing that worked for me w the hot flashes was L-Arginine, you may want to try it. You can get them at Walmart or Meijer.

    But I am SOOOOO upset that nothing…NOTHING is helping my weight!! And on top of that stress, I have sister in laws that will laugh and make fun of me now.

    November 16, 2014 at 3:52 am Reply
  18. Karen #

    Kelly (and all)

    I don’t have any magic solution, but I do want to report that a lot of my menopause symptoms settled down about 3 years after my last period.
    I also maintained a 25 lb. weight loss for years before menopause and was a careful eater. Despite this I gained weight in my midsection during menopause no matter what I did (the same 25 back). My figure is still not as hourglass as it once was and losing weight is harder, but it can be done, once my menopause symptoms (hot flashes, etc) slowed down.
    The other thing that changed, especially once the strongest symptoms left, was my attitude–and I love it. I kind of stopped giving a rat’s a@@ about what others think, especially of me. Before menopause I would have let someone like Kelly’s sitster-in-law abuse me. Now, I would simply cut her from my life as much as possible. Maybe it’s the sense that you’ve possibly used up 1/2 your life that makes you determined to live the rest of it without people who don’t deserve your time.
    Oddly, I also feel sexier than I have in years. I weigh more and my waist isn’t as defined, but my attitude about what’s sexy has changed. I wouldn’t mind losing a few pounds (to fit in the clothes in my fav cheap store), but I truly do love my curves. And the more I love them, the more men seem to too. I’ve been hit on more in the past two years than in the 15 to 20 before that.
    I found this web site because I’m interested in sleeping better and truly curious about how well paleo works for men vs women. I’m going to incorporate some of it into my life and see if I sleep better and feel more energetic (which might happen if I could sleep :-).)
    Menopause did suck. It seemed like everyday I had a new symptom. But life keeps getting better the farther I get past it. My advise (for what’s its worth): hang out with Latin women and black women. These ladies LOVE their curves and rock them. They have sexy attitudes. Dump all the Debbie-downers and drama-mamas from your life. They don’t deserve your time. Read smutty romance novels, enjoy the spike in hormones and use them on some man (or woman) who deserves your fine self.
    Sorry so long, but I hate seeing women suffering.

    January 13, 2015 at 4:50 am Reply
    • Chandra #

      @ Karen. Thank God for your post in this wilderness of self-hatred. Women, please re-read how toxic you are being to yourselves. Bodies change. Life circumstances change. Love however, is always there for you to feel and give. Yes, let’s be healthy, let’s each be thoughtful and find ways to take care of our unique body needs, but most of all, ride change, love life, love yourself, love your neighbours, love the world, choose not to suffer. again, Karen you rock, what a voice of compassionate reason.

      January 23, 2015 at 10:07 am Reply
  19. mims #

    HI Julianne and all you other lovely women. I am almost 54 and officially menopausal this month….my LMP was Feb 2014. I can relate to everythign you outline: weight gain, diminishing strength, insomnia, hot flashes, sagging chin, wiry gray hair. WTF?!

    I lost my brother to ALS last year and must say, I am happy to be alive, even with my diminished hormones. I did start 6 weeks ago, with the help of my naturopath, oral bio-identical progesterone 100 mg orally at bedtime, and 0.3 mg bi-est vaginal microinsert. It has been a game changer. No more hot flashes, sleeping great and woohoo! it got me my orgasms back. I found, even though my libido was still good, I had difficulty achieving a happy ending, somethign that was never a problem.

    and I disagree with the commenter above that hormones just postpone the inevitable. Yes, they do but at significant upside to many women. You must do the risk benefit for yourself given your health and family history. I have no FMHx of breast cancer but mother and grandmother with osteoporosis and heart disease. The WHI study showed bio-identical hormones had a protective effect for both bones and CVS. So my doctor and I had no qualms about using hormones for a few years to help preserve bone mass and protect my arteries.

    I plan to eventually discontinue them, but for now they work for me. We are living in a new reality now. Two hundred years ago most women never lived long past menopause. NOw the reality is many women will spend more time without hormones than with them. We are living a new experiment and it is exciting.

    But oy vey! the weight gan and strength loss….I am going to do a fat fast for a week and try to reset. And get more gentle walking in everyday…so hard to find the time. The metabolic effect guy recommends 2 hours a day of slow walking….umm, btwn work, family, cooking from scratch, etc etc. I don’t see that happening every day. And a very interesting study here showed alternating ketogenic periods followed by mediterranean diet was effective in keeping weight loss off. Maybe we need to keep changing up our eating to keep our metabolism stoked!? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24352095
    Sigh, Different strokes for different folks. WIsh I had a magic eight ball to tell me my perfect course of action.

    January 20, 2015 at 8:08 am Reply
  20. CJ #

    I went through surgical menopause 3 years ago, which was fairly brutal (hello instant brain fog, night sweats, she-devil mood swings and hot flashes!!).
    Quitting sugar (including alcohol) and following a low carb high fat stopped my menopause symptoms in a week or so. However, if I fell off the wagon and had a glass of wine or something sweet, my hot flashes returned with a vengeance.
    I’m struggling to lose weight still, but I’m fit, eat well and don’t have the menopause symptoms any more so I’ll keep plodding onwards! Good luck x

    February 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm Reply
  21. Thanks everyone for your comments and feedback – I’ll do an update soon.
    Things are fine. Hot flushes are almost non-existant now. I’ve found a magnesium supplement of 300mg helps me sleep so well.
    I’ve been using testosterone cream – just a small dose most nights – that has been fantastic.
    I read that sage can be amazing for hot flushes

    Havent tried it myself – but thought I’d post the link anyway.

    February 4, 2015 at 11:33 am Reply
  22. Lizzy #

    Well it’s always nice to see that I’m not alone!! I wish I was one of the success stories that Paleo/Primal cured a bunch of menopausal symptoms. Then again, maybe these last 3-4 years would have been even worse if I hadn’t been following that lifestyle. I’ve tried so many things – no relief. Weight gain, depression, body aches, insomnia, day and night flashes. My hot flahes have recently calmed down and I’m crossing my fingers they don’t return to their past levels. My Naturopath suggested compounded progesterone (for sleep) and I swear they caused some of the old “hot flashes when turning over” last night. I’ll give it a few more nights but I don’t have good hopes and it may cause weight gain. Sage didn’t work for me. I did want people to know that Estrovera by Metagenics worked for me for a little while. Then it didn’t. Remeferin (sp?) has soy and I can’t try that due to allergies. I’ll definitely look around this site though for recipes and other suggestions. THANK YOU JULIANNE.

    March 3, 2015 at 10:52 am Reply
    • CJ #

      Lizzy, low carb high fat and no sugar knocked my hot flashes and brain fog on the head within a week. However, sugar especially alcohol (Curses!) kick starts ‘mild’ night sweats and hot flashes for me. I tried supplement from a US company called ‘woman to woman’ (essential nutrients and a menopause supp) which worked for nearly a year. I’ve had no joy with any other creams or potions at all. Hang in there and best of luck!

      March 5, 2015 at 11:15 am Reply
  23. Genevieve #

    i am 51 and have reversed my menopause (after no periods for a year) on a grain-free, vegan diet, ( vegan already for 17 years).

    Eating more hard-to-convert-into-usuable-protein animals is not the answer if you want good health.

    For more insight into what true health really is, read Arnold Erhet’s Mucusless Diet System and Rational Fasting books.

    Another good one about grains is called, “Grain Damage”.

    People who don’t want to give up meat are eating it for the same reason as people who don’t want to give up grains: lust. You can rationalize all you want, but we are at minimum 98% herbivorous physiologically, so it is easy to conclude that only 1 or 2% of our diet should be from animal products….which i take to mean that meat is strictly a survival food, not to be eaten unless there is no other choice.

    People who want a clean planet and meat at every meal just haven’t faced the facts about the resources used in animal rearing and the pollution coming out on the other end. You can shower 3 times a day for a year and not use the amount of water it takes to raise a pound of beef.

    As a planet we don’t seem to want the truth about things, unless it’s not going to rock our boat. Don’t wait for the health professionals to tell you. There’s lots of money involved in the meat industry. After all, it was the dairy industry who first gave doctors the original five food group charts. Dairy was the largest category back then. People finally caught on, but how long did that take? Was it worth the wait? Not sure. We seem have more sick people than ever.

    June 15, 2015 at 11:16 am Reply
    • Firstly – all available evolutionary data shows we are omnivores, humans have eaten all different ratios of plants and animals. Meat was not a survival food, it is a main food and celebrated – a kill by men of an animal was a big deal. There are NO vegans naturally in hunter gatherer races. Do you have clinical data to back up what you are saying?
      I am totally in agreement that plant food and not grains is healthy. The way we grow animals is not healthy, however grass fed animals can nurture the land. Have a look at this

      June 15, 2015 at 11:59 am Reply
  24. Lawrie #

    Menopause sucks!

    At first I was excited about the possibility of being period free but then the reality set in. I’m 48 and had my last period nearly 5 years ago.

    Losing my brain was a nightmare. The fog, memory issues and spacing out while driving were hard. The hot flushes not too bad. I quit alcohol and they pretty much disappeared. The sleep disruption was hard and mag didn’t help me – just left me more tired and sent me running to the toilet to pee. Definite diuretic for me.

    I had vertigo and nausea during a lot of menopause, extreme irritability and mood disorders. Being sugar free helped with the mood but didn’t make much of a dent on the fatigue and only a minor improvement in brain fog.

    But then the icing on the cake was the belly fat and thickened waist and an extra couple of kilos that is resistant to diet and exercise and visible signs of aging. Once my hormones dropped I suddenly started noticing crows feet and a slight sag in the jaw.

    I’ve been strictly gluten free for 7 years and alcohol free for 18 months. I come and go with paleo. When my oestrogen drops the cravings start and the chocolate and dates and potato chips creep in. Between the brain fog and hunger and disappointment with the lack of movement in my belly doting seems pointless.

    I’ve tried yoga, dancing, walking and weight training. I have fibromyalgia / ME so I have to pace myself. I’m frustrated I can’t do HIIT or go hard with weight and cardio training. But mostly I’m frustrated I don’t feel myself and hate the lack of control I feel when the hormones drop.

    I’m lean until you look at my belly which I disguise with careful clothing choices but I hate having to buy a new wardrobe to accommodate my formerly size 6-8 waist. I’m also noticing some loose flesh and the beginning of bingo wings.

    Yes I tried BHRT but didn’t tolerate it well. Maca I loved. Soy supplements and black cohosh are mildly helpful. I have literally spent months reading and listening to podcasts but they all say the same boring stuff. Eat low GI and exercise and the belly will magically disappear. I notice many of these “experts” are men or women under 40. I’m guessing they’re not talking from experience and it really brasses me off that they are so self righteous. It is NOT easy.

    I’ve done the dietary changes and IF. Increased exercise and tried a variety of exercises. Taken supplements and hormones until I rattled.

    Okay rant over. Just wanted to vent. I get so frustrated I just want to dive into a vat of sticky fudge sauce! And I wanted to smack that trainer who replied that she was post menopausal and svelte. My experience is that I’d like to see her in another couple of years as my belly didn’t emerge until I was more than 2 years post menopausal,

    On a different note, julienne you have mentioned you are young looking for your age (55???). I would love to see a recent photo and read your anti-aging tips.

    June 27, 2015 at 2:47 pm Reply
    • Thanks for your comments. I am feeling better now, in fact pretty normal, I continue to take a very small dose of testosterone cream. That made a big difference to my state of mind, I feel more positive and stronger in myself, my memory and helping keep muscle strength. Do heavy lift weights (5 x 1/2 hour per week) and go for brisk walks and short sprints. My hot flushes are very infrequent and very short. I’m still heavier and a bit thicker in the trunk than I would like, and keep a pretty strict diet just to stop putting more weight on. I’m playing with resistant starch and probiotics at the moment.

      June 28, 2015 at 1:20 pm Reply
    • shelley #

      Lawrie. Thanks for making me laugh when all I want to do is cry! I am a group fitness leader. At 56 I am fit and have had it all under control for years. Especially since going paleo a year ago. Still getting periods. Although they seem to be changing. Night sweats once a night. Wake up at 4:30 every morning. Woke up last week with rolls of fat between my underarms and upper thighs. Something happened while I was sleeping. and it just keeps growing. The feeling of being unable to control it is utterly depressing. What can I do? I already take supplements Thyroid and Adrenal glands. and use Bio Identical progesterone cream.

      January 26, 2016 at 7:43 am Reply
  25. Lawrie #

    Glad to hear things have improved. I hope you’ll post on the probiotics when you’ve finished experimenting. I’ve tried a lot of probiotics including the probiotic yeast. There’s a very expensive primal earth mix and the VSL that are on my list.

    I like green bananas for resistant starch.

    The most frustrating thing is weight comes off slowly but have a couple of bad days and it goes back on in an instant . Menopause is very unforgiving.

    June 28, 2015 at 8:46 pm Reply
  26. new lisa #

    try pure formulas estrocleanse two. all natural. two tabs daily and in two weeks hot flashes gone girls!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2016 at 10:06 am Reply
    • Looks interesting – thanks for the tip

      January 20, 2016 at 3:32 pm Reply
  27. shelley #

    Been paleo for a year. I teach 11Fitness Classes a week. Slim an trim feeling good. At 56 still getting my period. Suddenly i wake up one morning last week with rolls of fat that I havent seen the likes of since I was 16. what the hell is going on. someone please help me!!

    January 26, 2016 at 7:30 am Reply
  28. Karen #

    Been down the road with horrible issues over the years since 41 without getting into it now at 49 I am going to say one thing don’t be so worried relax. I was Dx or I should say MIS DX from MS to Lupus to Brain issues and Heart and this and that. At the end of the day I had simple MIGRAINE problems that were rare type. Now i suffer from Arthritis and some hair loss and remaining calm. Lesson learned is enjoy life your mind and doctors and obsessing about things can create ANXIETY which is worse than MENOPAUSE. Now I say this after a Partial Hysterectomy a thyroid Biopsy Cancer center tests 100s of viles of blood a Spinal tap two heart catheter tests at lease 10 MRI and CT’s Numerous ER trips and being told I am sick and a mystery patient. So when i put mind over the matter even when i was sure i was going to die and had all the signs MS, Parkinsons like movements dizzy etc think a lot was anxiety and vitamin issues. I ate pecans and blueberries and try to eat rationally and was Ok. Oh and I was HOT ALL the time it was the worst sun hitting me bothered me or any heat,It did get better but am worried since the hair loss is now a year not stopping and the pain in hands is real the Athritis is real can see it all over and now waiting for my new blood tests for Auto immune disease for Alopecia. My point here is try to be calm a lot of symptoms are ANXIETY.I studies medicine since doctors were useless look up pecans and blueberries.

    February 12, 2016 at 4:50 am Reply
  29. Shelley #

    I just started going into meno at the beginning of the year. haven\’t had a period since December. Im 53, and Mum was 45 when she was done, so Im kind of happy I lasted this long. Im mild hypothyroid and take Naturthroid. Middle of last year I went to India for 5 weeks to practice yoga, and I came back about 6lbs lighter, and felt fantastic. Now I have that 6lbs back and then some, even though I have not changed what I eat, and Im virtually a tee totaller. I think though some might be water weight as it goes up and down. My sleep which isn\’t great anyway, went totally down the tubes when this started and Ive had some relief with GABA and melatonin. I was having some warm flashes but I cut sugar totally out of my diet and have been pounding green things and this has virtually eliminated them. I do my strength work via yoga, ie functional body weight movement. But even so, my arms feel pudgy now and its almost on a weekly basis I can see the changes in my skin on my body and the body composition. I work in a cancer research dept and one of the doctors said that at this stage you have to start exercising twice a day to make a difference. haven\’t tried that yet. I get up at 4am to practice for an hour and a half and im sweating by the end so getting on my bike to spin at the end of the day seems like overkill. but then again, I am sitting on my ass all day at work. Oh I also started taking amazing grass supergreens the other day and my sleep is way better. hope its not a coincidence!!

    June 22, 2016 at 3:40 am Reply
    • I actually disagree re having to do that much exercise. I think sleep is even more critical as you get older as lack of is linked with insulin resistance and appetite increase. So prioritize 8 hours of sleep for sure, and use meditation or some way of de-stressing as stress is also linked to insulin resistance and more visceral (internal abdominal fat). Too much exercise is also stressful. Best to stick to exercise that you feel rejuvenated by not exhausted by. I have found doing weights is just fantastic for my figure. My butt has never been so firm and my legs look really toned and shapely

      June 30, 2016 at 2:17 pm Reply
  30. Not Ready #

    Thank you for this. I am newly perimenopausal at age 45. I am Paleo, mostly keto, which got 50 lbs off and I was feeling great … But now this. I have bladder leaks. My period is more frequent. The bladder thing is awful… Do I need to get incontinence pads at age 45?? Will this go away ? I am feeling very depressed, disappointed with my life, sad, regretful.

    August 21, 2016 at 9:57 am Reply
    • Check out a exercises or a physio that deals with pelvic floor weakness. I’m sure there are exercise that can reduce this

      August 28, 2016 at 11:41 pm Reply
      • Ceri McDade #

        Hi, I\’m glad I found this. I\’m 44 and have been in perimenopausal for since I became 40. After terrible brain fog, flooding periods and fatigue I had a hysteroscopy and my womb was full of polyps which were removed in July. Since October my husband, eldest son and myself have turned lchf. They have both lost a stone each and I feel better with more energy but my weight is exactly the same as when I started. I\’m wondering now whether to give up dairy and stop the coconut oil. It\’s demoralising watching the persistant middle even though I swim 2-3 times a week.

        December 16, 2016 at 7:38 am Reply
        • My current thinking for those that have problems losing weight on a high fat low carb diet (which to be honest I’m not a fan of – most eat too much fat, too few plants) is to eat protein plus fibre. I.e. eat at least a palm size od animal protein at each meal (make sure it is mainly leanish, don’t eat fatty protein at every meal) and add a lot of fibrous veg, and then a bit of starch (like root veg or pumpkin) or fruit (especially berries) and maybe a little added fat.

          December 19, 2016 at 4:56 pm Reply
  31. ShayFL #

    Plant foods almost killed me….I tried vegetarian….then vegan…then raw food.
    The more veg I ate, the sicker I got. I earned a Phd in Holistic Nutrition believing that animal foods were the enemy and vegetables were the only way. I was so damned convinced even though I looked like a ghost and could barely open the books to read. Took years, but found out that I have Celiac and that I am intolerant to nuts, dairy, eggs and soy. I also have salicylate sensitivity and react to the nitrates in vegetables. I thrive on meat, healthy fats, non-grain starches like sweet potatoes/squash and very small amounts of fruits/veg that are safe for me.

    I really have a hard time with people who think that there is only “one way” in life and that goes for both spiritual and physical things. We are all individual!

    Thanks for your great blog Julianne….I am just starting to get peri symptoms at 48. Lightheadedness is the worst thing for me!

    December 8, 2016 at 1:28 pm Reply
    • Yes – we all have different genes and physiology. Need to find what works for us as an individual. Don’t be sucked into a ‘should’ diet, if you tried it and it doesn’t work or your blood work goes wonky, its not your diet, try something else.

      December 19, 2016 at 4:58 pm Reply
  32. Hi Julianne

    After reading through your article, I felt the need to write to you.

    I have been going through the menopause for nearly 4 years now. It came as quite a shock to me in the beginning. I initially, chose to go down the route of treating it with medication (I was using an all natural progesterone cream). But at the same time, I had just begun following a Paleo diet and lifestyle as my husband was doing so. I wasn’t really noticing any changes in the beginning.

    Then a year later I decided that I would not take any more medication and instead try more natural ways of treating the condition. I have found that following a paleo diet (yes I include some dairy in my diet) useful. Also, I have found that taking certain supplements such as red clover and magnesium have helped me as well.

    I have been very lucky when it comes to weight, I have only put on an extra couple of kilos. As well as changing my diet I also attended Crossfit sessions. These I’ve now had to give up because of an injury I incurred when I was younger keeps flaring up. I manage to stay active by wearing a Fitbit watch and also making sure that our dog gets walked regularly.

    I hope you find what I have to say of interest. I would be more than happy to share my story with others on your blog.

    February 1, 2017 at 12:02 am Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your story.
      I too, despite my complaints have not had such a bad time. I’ve tried a number of supplements and now have only 2 – 3 hot flushes a day, short ones. Things like having a big meal, feeling anxious or stressed, or a sudden change in temperature will bring one on. I do weights 3 – 4 times a week, a little bit of high intensity like thrusters, heavy kettle bell swings or sprints. I’ve gained about 2 kg total a bit of extra around my waist. I have stopped gaining weight – but I do watch my diet and have days where I eat just lean protein and fibrous veggies to stop weight gain.

      February 3, 2017 at 11:44 am Reply

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