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Tips from a Menopause Food Expert [Closed]

The_Menopause_ChefThe_Menopause_Chef Posts: 18 Menopause Expert
Our resident menopause foodie, Sabrina Zeif AKA The Menopause Chef, Joins the Community to answer your questions about food and cooking to help combat menopause symptoms!

Sabrina is changing the face of women’s health awareness, with a new approach to nutritional and lifestyle advice, education and community support for menopause. Born in Trinidad and having lived all over the world, Sabrina’s diverse background sparked her love for flavourful, international food and has cultivated a deep understanding around how food can change your lifestyle.

Having worked professionally in the healthcare industry for 25 years before setting up her own culinary business, Sabrina pairs her knowledge of food and medicine to help women with lifestyle choices, by raising awareness on how this can affect the menopause.

Sabrina recently joined Fountain Retreats, Europe's first dedicated retreats for menopausal wellness and understanding, offering expert talks and tailored sessions in nutrition, yoga and psychology all in fun, relaxed, gorgeous locations.

Speaking on various menopausal topics such as peri-menopause, how food and nutrition can help those tackling the menopause and approaching the menopause with a spirit of resilience, Sabrina shares her insights and practical advice to women of all ages on recognising and living with the menopause! She joins the Community to answer your questions about food, nutrition and cooking for the menopause!

Discussion is now closed


  • JuJu23JuJu23 Posts: 22 ✭✭

    Good morning

    do you have any recipes for natural menopause control as I’m avoiding HRT (in surgical menopause) particularly recipes with tofu/tempeh as it’s too bland! Also any soya milk uses?


  • The_Menopause_ChefThe_Menopause_Chef Posts: 18 Menopause Expert


    Good clean, healthy, fresh and wholesome eating is always a good start. Phytoestrogen are naturally occurring substances in food that help to balance our hormones such as tofu and tempeh. Tofu and tempeh are bland however you can use them in your every day cooking to replace meat. Season and marinate them with herbs and spices. Add both to soups, salads and smoothies. Make scrambled eggs with tofu and spinach. Make a quiche loaded with vegetables and tofu. Use tempeh in place of ground beef in tacos, make bean burgers and add tempeh or tofu. Stir fry tofu dusted first with flour served on bed of bok choi drizzled with thai sweet chilli sauce.

    Soya milk can replace dairy milk in pancakes, oatmeal, porridge and smoothies.

    Some other phytoestrogen foods to include in your diet would be flax seeds, chick peas, edamame beans, lentils.

    Eating fresh home cooked meals versus processed refined foods can make a massive difference in diet. Eat a rainbow of vegetables.

    Hope these suggestions help.


  • KazKaz Posts: 475 mod

    Hello Sabrina!

    It's lovely to have you back with us again!

    Last time you were here I picked up some really useful tips and have really sorted out my food choices, I feel so much better, and I am a stone lighter as a result. 😊

    One of my biggest downfalls has always been bread - I love it, and until lately, have always enjoyed all kinds without any problems. I am now making smarter, more conscious choices about the food I eat and currently I am only having a very small amount of wholemeal bread 2-3 times a week (from a 400g loaf). This is a massive reduction/change for me!

    My question is this - I treated myself to some malted, seeded bread this weekend, and within a few hours I was floored with bloating, pain and an upset tummy, which lasted for the whole afternoon. The only change I had made to my diet, was the addition of this bread. Would that make sense to you? I've pretty much cut it out of my diet, then introduced it this one time. I can't think of anything else that could have upset my system this way.

    Curious! 🍞🥖🥪🍞🤔

  • The_Menopause_ChefThe_Menopause_Chef Posts: 18 Menopause Expert
    edited March 2019

    Hi Kaz,

    Well done you on your diet modifications and subsequent weight loss. I think bread has got to be everyone's downfall as we get older. I too love bread but like you its not liking me much these days. So here are my suggestions.

    A malted grain bread which you recently ate is made from mainly white flour mixed with a proportion of wholemeal flour, malt powder and malted grains. This bread is known as malted grain, multi-seed, seeded batch, and Granary. Typical ingredients include wheat flour, water, salt, yeast, malted barley flour and grains.

    It is entirely possible you have developed a wheat sensitivity which means you have trouble digesting wheat. This is an increasingly common problem. It does not help that as we grow older our metabolism slows down and this has an effect on our digestion. Wheat sensitivity – symptoms like bloating, cramps, diarrhoea and sickness come on quite slowly, usually hours after eating wheat. 

    If you feel bloated or have other minor symptoms after eating bread, try an elimination diet. This is where you completely cut out wheat from your diet for 4 weeks, then gradually bring it back in to see if symptoms reappear.This applies to any food sensitivities.

    Have you had the same bloating problem with pasta? When reintroducing wheat back to your diet it is better to start with wheat in a pure form such as pasta for a few days before starting on bread as bread has so many other ingredients.

    If your symptoms return, it confirms you're sensitive to wheat. Some people may only have problems with pasta, while others are fine until they eat bread for example. To relieve your symptoms try a wheat-free or partially wheat-free diet or in your case bread free diet. Interestingly some people with wheat sensitivity have found no problems when eating toast as cooked wheat tends to be easier to digest. Try also as an alternative sour dough bread or bread from a specialist bakery.

    Do let me know how you get on with my suggestions.

    If however your symptoms are severe and long-lasting see your doctor to rule out a medical condition. 

    Keep up with your good food choices.


  • KazKaz Posts: 475 mod

    Thanks so much! That's really helpful. I'll let you know how I get on 😊

  • KazKaz Posts: 475 mod

    Hello Sabrina,

    I wonder if I could pick your brains once again?

    I’ve dealt with depression for a long time now and I mostly have it under control with diet, exercise, mindfulness and some supplements. I no longer use anti depressant medication - I had good results with them in the past, but I no longer like the effect they have on my system.

    I wonder if there are any foods you can recommend which will help me to keep on top of any mood fluctuations. Something to give me a boost on the days when I can feel like I’m having a dip ?

    Thanks! 😊

  • The_Menopause_ChefThe_Menopause_Chef Posts: 18 Menopause Expert

    Depression is very complex and women can become more vulnerable to depression in midlife. Is not uncommon to have low nutrient levels during the menopause midlife which can result in mood changes. 

    Serotonin known as the happy hormone is a chemical messenger that’s believed to act as a mood stabilizer.

    Here are some foods to boost nutrient and serotonin levels: 

    Dark chocolate: every woman needs a bit of chocolate. It's got to be above 70% cacao content, the higher the better. Go easy now just a small piece each day to help balance the mood. 

     Berries: Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are high in vitamin C, which helps cope with cortisol during times of stress.

     Beans: Soybean, chickpeas, Black beans and lentils, are rich in magnesium, a mineral that functions to provide relaxation and calm.

    Leafy greens such as kale and spinach as they are loaded with magnesium and nutrients. 

    Fish rich in omega- fatty acids such a salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel helps to keep the brain healthy and can relieve anxiety. 

    Herbal Teas: Sipping a warm cup herbal tea can relieve stress and lift the spirits. Try some camomile, peppermint, green tea, rose tea or passionflower tea which are rich in antioxidants

    Fruits: never underestimate the feel-good factor of eating fresh fruit. Apples, bananas, and oranges are packed with fibre and vitamin C. 

     Other suggestions: 

     Brown rice and beans make a great serotonin-boosting combination. 

    Antioxidant-rich brain food: 

    Beta-carotene: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato

    Vitamin C: blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato

    Are you moody more during the winter months when sunlight is limited? Low vitamin D levels can also contribute to depression and low moods. Salmon, herrings and sardines are high in vitamin D though you may need to add a supplement to get adequate amounts. 

    Low selenium can also contribute to the low mood and brazil nuts just 1-2 per day will give you the RDA. 

     Omega-3 Fatty Acids are found to be low in most diets and may contribute to depression. Eat rich sources of these fatty acids such as flaxseed, fatty fish (anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines, shad, and tuna)

    Nuts, especially walnuts

    Limit sweets, sugary drinks, saturated fats, and alcohol. 

    As you can see there is no quick diet fix to fluctuating moods however the important thing is to maintain a healthy lifestyle and listen to what your body is telling you. 

    Always seek professional advice from your doctor if your depression spirals. 

    Do let me know if the suggestions are useful.


  • KazKaz Posts: 475 mod
    edited April 2019

    Thanks so much Sabrina - your answers are always full of easy to follow advice, and I appreciate the time you spend putting your answers together for me and other ladies.

    I will certainly try to incorporate your advice into my day to day diet.

    To update you on the problems I was having with bread - I have tried to keep a careful check on what happens to me when I eat bread. Wholemeal bread is tricky, but wholemeal toast is fine. I’d never have known to look out for this, so thanks as always for sharing your knowledge. Pasta seems fine too, although I don’t eat this regularly.

    I was shocked to see that malted grain bread wasn’t as healthy as I’d previously thought, so I’ve cut that out completely. It just wasn’t worth the side effects. I did eat it again after your last message, just to see if it was really a problem - it was! 😂

    Luckily, since I’ve turned my diet around, bread isn’t a huge part of my daily food choices anymore, so it was fairly easy to see where there was a problem, and take steps to avoid! 😊

  • TeenTeen Posts: 1

    I’m struggling at the moment to loose weight and to eat healthy is there any guidance to help me start, I have stopped dairy as I suffer with migraines around my cycle or if I get too stressed out. I want to excercise as well but the tiredness and fatigue is horrendous any ideas how I can start with loosing the weight Tina

  • The_Menopause_ChefThe_Menopause_Chef Posts: 18 Menopause Expert

    Dear Teen,

    Thank you for question. Please let me know what you are typically eating and doing all day as you mentioned you are struggling to lose weight and eat healthy. This way I can make suggestions which would help with your diet and activity.

    In the mean time here are some tips.

    1. Eat regularly. Three meals a day help to ensure a good balanced diet, as well as a steady flow of energy throughout the day. For some eating little and often works better. Do not eat late at night. 

    2. Include enough protein from animal or vegetarian sources in each meal.Protein in each meal will help to keep you full. Low-protein diets jeopardise the balance of many nutrients. Some healthy protein sources are eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, oats, greek yogurt, quinoa, vegetables, lentils, chick peas, fish, pumpkin seeds

    3. Drink plenty of liquids, preferably the equivalent of at least six glasses of water daily, which can include herbal and fruit tea. Redbush or Tick Tock tea can be made with milk and makes a good alternative to ordinary tea.

    4.The more time that your body’s in motion, the more calories your body will burn. One low-effort way to do that? “Stay as vertical as possible throughout the day. Get up and move at least every hour even if its walking around the house, office though fresh air will do wonders. Find a friend to be your exercise buddy. Try a yoga class or one on You Tube.

    5. Ditch all processed foods such as refined carbohydrates :Biscuits, cakes, pastries made with white flour and sugar, breakfast cereals with added sugar, brown and white sugar, Fruit juice (as the fibre has been removed) ,instant ‘quick cook’ porridge oats, soft fizzy drinks, White bread, flour, rice. Replace with unrefined carbohydrates to eat in moderation include: brown rice, vegetables (spinach, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, aubergines), baked beans, peas, lentils, chick peas, fruit, oats and nuts ( peanuts, cashews, walnuts).

    6. Eat on a smaller plate. At least half of your meal should be vegetables. 

    7. Make smoothies with 1 fruit, 2-4 vegetables with some sunflower seeds and flax seeds.

    8 Keep a supply of nutritious snacks to eat between meals if you get hungry. Nuts, and seeds, fresh fruit or dried fruit. 

    9. Evaluate your stress levels and find ways to lower it. Stress is connected to weight gain, because a high level of the stress hormone cortisol has been shown to increase appetite, drive cravings for junk food, and make it so much easier to accumulate belly fat.

    10. Consult with your GP about your fatigue and tiredness to rule out any serious problems. You can also have your vitamin and nutrient levels tested.

    I hope these suggestions are useful to get you started. Do let me know.


  • Birdlady21Birdlady21 Posts: 1

    I am lactose intolerant I would like to try kombucha as I have read it is beneficial to the gut flora

    as I also have IBS, do you have a recipe for this and can I use lactofree milk, thankyou.

    P. Salmon

  • The_Menopause_ChefThe_Menopause_Chef Posts: 18 Menopause Expert

    Dear P.Salmon,

    Here is a kombucha recipe. It's not my own but its simple and easy.https://deliciouslyella.com/2018/02/19/brewing-kombucha/

    Hope this helps.


  • AuroraHAuroraH Posts: 1

    Hi Sabrina

    i have given up sugar this January for health and weight reasons but to my great surprise my hot flushes have decreased in frequency. I wonder what you think about this. Is this a coincidence? Is there evidence to link sugar consumption and hot flushes?

    I feel really good, lots more energy and am enjoying a healthy diet and exercise. Just before Christmas i felt at the end of my tether with debilitating hot flushes so this feels quite miraculous!

    Thanks for any wisdom.

  • RuRuRuRu Posts: 1

    Hi Sabrina,

    I am 52 and peri menopausal. I am in the process of getting my head around my fatigue, brain fog, irritability and weight gain.

    As a pescatarian I am really struggling to find alternatives to meat without turning to processed food. I have tried and don't like the following - Tofu, chick peas, falafel or anything with a grainy or spongy texture. I do like Quorn but I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere on this or any other websites, is this okay to eat?

    I have a busy job so some days I need quick meals and have tended to use microwave rice, however, I know most of these contain sunflower oil which I cannot have. Are you aware of a rice that does not contain sunflower oil and is okay for me to eat please?

    Thank you in advance for your comments.



This discussion has been closed.