I ate a Caesar salad (dressing on the side) last week. Normally this act would not raise an eyebrow and may even elicit a sarcastic, “Oh, good for you. I ate an entire pizza.”

But since the romaine lettuce E. coli scare, this same statement is on par with running with the bulls, surfing during a hurricane, and wearing white after Labor Day.

Normal people simply don’t take such extreme, unnecessary risks.

In case you’ve been hiding out in an underground bunker (and who can blame you), let me bring you up to speed: A nationwide E. coli food poisoning outbreak centers around contaminated romaine lettuce from the Yuma, Arizona growing region, killing one person and making more than 100 people very sick.

When you’re making changes to your diet and striving to add more greens to your meal, this is enough to make you feel justified eating a bowl of ice cream with gummy bears and chocolate sauce.

No lettuce equals no romaine equals no E. coli. Unless your ice cream was made near the same Yuma farm, then all bets are off. (I don’t know if that’s even true, so never mind me.)

As someone who doesn’t usually take chances, then, I can only say my reasoning to this death-defying action was this: I forgot about the warning.

And I was hungry.

These two factors could have led to my early demise, I now realize. Thankfully, the restaurant’s lettuce was apparently not from Yuma since I’m still walking around. (Excuse me while I go outside to knock on wood.)

But here’s the thing about food: You can’t quit it. You can modify your intake, change what you eat, but you can’t go “cold turkey” and simply stop eating.

If you’re an all-or-nothing person, this can be problematic.

You can quit other bad habits: smoking, biting your nails, collecting owl salt and pepper shakers. Because you have control over these habits and stopping any of them will leave you healthier in the end.

Not so with food. Unless, that is, you’re one of those people who claim to live on nothing but sunlight, air, and universal energy. I can’t even get started on that subject.

Truth is, we need food to live, regardless of what you eat or how much or whether you order food from a clown’s mouth or DIY at the grocery store.

There’s no getting around it.

Now for the good news: Some foods may even help ease menopause symptoms. Others are shown to delay menopause, which for many of us is a ship that sailed long ago.

Regardless.

For the most part, we know about the foods most likely to make us gain weight. No one eats a gallon of chocolate sauce expecting it to meet our basic nutritional needs.

However, some foods are good for us in ways that may actually affect our inner workings. Like menopausal changes, for example.

For the record, I went through menopause over 10 years ago at age 49. So this info is too late for me. But some of you whippersnappers in your early 50s may be able to benefit from this news.

(Note: Most women go through menopause between 48 and 55 years, with the average age 51 in the U.S.)

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, involved more than 14,000 women responding to a questionnaire and then a follow up five years later.

Food: oily fish and fresh legumes such as lentils and chickpeas

Impact: delayed the start of menopause by almost three years

The connection: Researchers believe the high antioxidant content of fresh legumes and oily fish explains the link, as oxygen-containing chemicals can harm egg maturation and release

Food: refined flour (white) pasta and rice     

              Go easy on the white flour!

Impact: started menopause 1-½ years earlier, on average

The connection: Refined carbohydrates such as white flour increases the risk of insulin resistance, which can interfere with the number of menstrual cycles and deplete the egg supply faster

Food: meat

Impact: meat eaters tended to go through menopause a year later than vegetarian women

The connection:A diet high in fiber without animal fats may affect certain hormones and, subsequently, the length of the menstrual cycle and lower estrogen levels

Food: High intake of B6 and zinc

Impact: associated with a later age of natural menopause

The connection: [no specific link was provided]

In general, experts suggest menopausal women cut back on sugary foods, refined flours, fatty cuts of meat, coffee — especially if you have trouble sleeping and for its hot flash inducing factors, spicy foods (trigger hot flashes), more than two glasses of wine a day for alcohol’s effect on fatigue and moodiness (and, might I add, weight gain and belly fat).

 

Instead, focus on lean proteins, omega-3 rich fish such as salmon, high-fiber fruits like raspberries and drink plenty of water. Read more HERE.

What foods do you avoid after menopause and why? Let me know in the comments below… I’d love to hear from you!  

Other posts you may enjoy:

12 Surprising fruits and veggies linked to belly fat

How to stop eating at night

3 counterintuitive weight loss tactics that really work

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