MY MENOPAUSE DIARY

Wheat-free Wednesday

Fiona Catchpowle

10 February 2021

This week I am launching #WheatFreeWednesday

At any point in our lives, not just during midlife and beyond, we should be seeking out nutrition to fuel our body in a way that serves us well. When we’re younger we tend not to take much notice of this mantra as we bounce back really quickly if we eat/drink foods/beverages that aren’t so great for us. In addition the modern day food choices and mass production quite often tempt us down roads, we lose sight of why we went there in the first place, and before you know it we are full of bad habits that are really hard to break. Throw in a whole load of gobbledygook misinformation, from people who claim to be qualified, including governments, big pharma and the mass market food industry, and quite simply it’s no surprise we are still fighting an obesity and an unwell epidemic.

Absence of disease does not mean you are healthy

– you’re just getting away with it for now.

Long before and prior to reaching that well known phase of the ‘peri-meno shock conundrum’ (the ‘why did no one tell me what the eff’ kind of thing) I was only eating real food. The kind that grows in the ground, falls out of trees, swims in the sea or roams the land (I am a meat eater). I eat real food every day. Many years ago I heard a saying ‘ if you eat food made by men in white coats, you will see men in white coats’ – in other words eating chemically created, mass produced processed food and you will end up really  unhealthy and need to see a doctor at some point.

I swayed toward more protein orientated ways of eating on a regular basis and felt great, but would succumb to peer pressure during social occasions if I said I preferred not to eat carbs. I’d be tutted at as ‘one of those fad diet’ people, when in reality I knew for sure when I felt better and when I didn’t. I wasn’t making those choices from a weight management perspective. I already knew that I needed to eat the right things for me, and at the right time to have energy, be happy and be productive. I also knew what the science was saying about fats, protein and carbs so why was I allowing others judgement’s to affect my choices? Why wasn’t I doing the right thing for me? My meno moment hit me and I thought ‘sod the lot of you’, I’m doing it my way.

“Eat food made by men in white coats, you’ll see men in white coats.”

What I’ve since discovered is that one of the keys to successful meno symptom management and general good health is to reduce foods in your diet that cause you inflammation. I had already found low carb effective in general terms, but when it came to seeing if I could reduce my meno weight gain the secret sauce came in the guise of wheat. Opting to avoid wheat gave me a really easy system to follow when planning what to eat. Over the last 3 years this way of eating has supported me in symptom management and a 15kg weight loss. If you need to put a label on it we can call it ‘low carb real food’. I made consistent choices that nourished me, reduced inflammation and managed my weight as an absolute bonus. NB. I also increased my protein intake and natural fats.

If it helped me, then maybe it will help you – hence #wheatfreewednesday

When your oestrogen is spiking up and down unpredictably during menopause contributing to symptoms, it really does make sense to find ways to not have anything else spiking. Calming and smoothing would appear to be a good choice. Controlling insulin levels is therefore a highly recommended and evidence based principle, when it comes to choosing foods that are nutritional and less likely to cause your body distress.

Wheat is high in starch (a carbohydrate) and rapidly turns into blood glucose (a carbohydrate) once digested. Just one piece of bread – no matter if it is whole grain, white, brown organic or fancy pants, will all raise your blood sugars.  So avoiding it when you can will help to minimise the sudden increase in blood sugar and the subsequent spike in insulin. If you’re not convinced in what I’m saying, don’t take my word for it. Please do your own research and maybe start (and finish) right here on the Public Health Collaboration website.

https://phcuk.org/booklets/

The background story to this amazing resource is worth grabbing a coffee and learning more about. Whilst their awesome work is focused on supporting people with diabetes the premium principles they recommend can be applied to everyone. I stumbled across them after following Dr Davin Unwin (@lowcarbGP) on Twitter. To discover that this way of eating with multiple benefits, that I had worked out for myself, is highly advocated by hundreds of doctors in the UK (including some famous faces) was very exciting.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more information and top tips on a wheat-free lifestyle. There are lots and lots of delicious, nutritious ways you can create meals wheat free. For example, today I had a cheese and tomato omelette for breakfast, home-made vegetable soup for lunch and steak and brassica veg for dinner.

#Wheatfreewednesday – fancy giving it a go to see if it helps with symptoms? Over in my Facebook Group I will be sharing some different wheat-free meals each Wednesday that I have been eating for several years that supported me in my meno management strategies, naturally.

P.S. Wheat-free is a mindful tool I adopted myself, and has not been initiated by the PHC.

Additional resources

Dr David Unwin – ‘Why black swans matter: The difference N=1 and noticing success can make’ 

Dr Zoe Harcombe and her talk called WTF (What the fibre) will have you howling with laughter and ditching certain sources of fibre 

The YouTube channel by the Public Health Collaboration will stand you in good stand for all things healthy. 

Need a hand with your (peri)menopause?

If you’re looking for answers try The Menopause School

Online, jargon-free, self-study courses. Develop a deeper understanding of your hormone highway in a mindful, stress-free way. Identify what purposeful steps to take next.