It’s never too early—or late—to prepare for a healthy transition to menopause
STORY and PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jennifer Cohen-Katz
I’m huddled around a café table with three of my close friends. Our whispers are followed by loud bursts of laughter. We are having a private conversation about a secret—menopause.
Most of us are uncomfortable acknowledging the existence of menopause—it’s personal and also a sign of age. In our society there’s a lot of pressure to maintain an image of youthfulness and sexiness. The ideas that we, as a culture, have about menopause can affect how we experience this transition. Did you know that in some cultures there is no stigma attached to menopause at all? In the West, menopause has negative connotations, but we can change that. We can view menopause not as the end of something but as a beginning.
Perimenopause, which can start several years before menopause, signals the beginning of a whole new type of power. It’s a time to let go of what is not working in our lives and discover the new ageless goddess we are to become. Our brains prepare us for more wisdom and meaning going forward. Women are living healthier into their menopausal years and may even live more years after menopause than before it.
Our discomfort during perimenopause, both physical and emotional, can be seen as the labor pains as we give birth to our new, improved self. These days, women older than 45 are not seen as over the hill. We look in the mirror and see someone emotionally and physically strong, economically confident, attractive and sexy.
By the time we reach the perimenopause stage, we’ve had several decades to create our individual blueprint for wellness. We may be working hard, feeling stressed, drinking too much alcohol, slacking on our exercise, and sleeping and eating poorly. After 35, our bodies are not so forgiving, and it’s never too early—or too late—to adapt healthfully to stress, make exercise a comfortable habit and cultivate a way of nourishing ourselves with quality food and enough sleep to keep our bodies balanced.
Good food is essential to provide nutrients required for the release of hormones that support good health. Most hormones are restored during sleep, so make sure you get a good night’s worth. Managing stress is also critical to avoid hormone imbalances, such as increased cortisol, which can lead to weight gain and possibly metabolic and thyroid disorders, insomnia and other stress-related issues.
If you haven’t already, start planning for a healthy journey into menopause. Share your plan with all the badass women ready to rock their many remaining years with creativity, vitality and well-being.
Jennifer Cohen-Katz RD LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner of Fresh Balance Nutrition, helps clients identify their personal nutrition style to become their healthiest self. In addition to nutrition for hormonal balance, she offers cooking sessions and VIP personal nutrition services. Find out more at FreshBalanceNutrition.com.
Fall Detox Salad
Yield: 6 servings
• 1 bunch curly kale, ribs removed, finely chopped
• 2 medium carrots, shredded
• 1 small jicama, peeled and diced
• ¼ cup red onion, diced
• ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
• ½ cup parsley, chopped
• 1 firm pear, diced
• 1 cup chickpeas
• ⅓ cup dried wild blueberries
• ¼ cup sunflower seeds
• ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
• ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon curry powder
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon honey
• ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
1. Place the kale, carrots, jicama, onion, cilantro and parsley in a large bowl.
2. In a medium bowl, combine apple cider vinegar, cinnamon, curry powder, salt and honey. Whisk in oil.
3. Pour dressing over kale mixture. Toss to combine.
4. Add pear, chickpeas, blueberries, sunflower seeds and pomegranate seeds. Toss gently.
Balanced Goddess Smoothie
Yield: 6 servings
• 1 cup almond milk
• 1 scoop vanilla plant protein powder
• ¾ cup frozen strawberries
• 1 teaspoon honey
• ½ teaspoon ashwagandha
• ½ teaspoon turmeric
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Asian Cod Parcels with Bok Choy
Yield: 4 servings
• 4 scallions, sliced
• 4 baby bok choy, cut in half
• 1 red pepper, sliced
• 1 thumb-size piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
• 4 5-ounce cod fillets
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
• 4 teaspoons mirin
• 4 teaspoons tamari
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut four 9 x 11-inch pieces of parchment paper. Place one-quarter of the scallions, 1 bok choy, 1/4 of the red pepper slices and 1/8 of the sliced ginger in the lower third section of each piece of parchment. Place 1 cod fillet on each bed of veggies and season the fish with salt and pepper. Arrange the remaining sliced ginger on top of the fish and pour 1 teaspoon each of the sesame oil, mirin and tamari over each fillet.
3. Fold the top half of the parchment paper over the fish to make a rectangle; then, starting with one side, tightly roll up the parchment paper. Repeat with the other two edges, then place the parcels on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until flaky and cooked through.
4. Carefully tear open the packages to serve over brown rice or quinoa.