It’s Valentine’s Day, and you want to have a romantic dinner with your sweetheart. He’s in great health, and can eat anything; you, however, are in perimenopause, and you need to give consideration to your diet to prevent, or ease the severity of menopausal symptoms. You can still go out on the town, or make that romantic dinner for two at home – just pay special attention to the menu.
What Not to Eat
If your primary menopausal symptom is hot flashes and night sweats, it’s a good idea to avoid foods that precipitate them and use menopause supplement. So, for your dinner, this means no high-octane coffee, little or no alcohol, no chocolate, and no spicy foods. Unfortunately, this means no Mexican, no Thai, and no really hot Chinese. You can, however, make or go out for Italian, and what’s more romantic than a candlelit Italian dinner for two?
What to Eat
There are some things you should consider when selecting your meal. Try to choose food items in each course that will help your menopausal symptoms, not trigger them. With that in mind, let’s look at each course:
Choose something without red meat in it if possible. Selecting nuts or fruits as your appetizer is a good way to start your meal. Cottage cheese is great as well. If you want the fried calamari, it’s probably okay. An antipasto platter, with olives and nuts is also a good way to go. Soup makes a great appetizer, and Italian soups are really healthy, so go for it!
Any good green salad is an excellent choice. Where you need to pay attention is the dressing. Choose a dressing with extra virgin olive oil if you can; olive oil is a monounsaturated fat, and it has many health benefits.
Foods high in phosphorous are not a good idea, as they leach calcium from the bones. Fish, poultry, or seafood as your entrée makes more sense. Your fellow can still have the lasagna with red meat if that’s his preference – you just need to order, or make, yourself something different. A turkey dish is a great idea – turkey contains L-Tryptophan, an amino acid instrumental in manufacturing seretonin. Seretonin is a neurotransmitter involved in moods, and it may help depression.
- Side Dishes
Vegetable side dishes you should consider are: broccoli, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, legumes, or leafy green vegetables, such as kale or turnip greens. Green beans are good for you, and a dish of green beans amandine is not a bad thing at all!
As tempting as the tiramisu is, it’s undoubtedly made with high-octane coffee – espresso, in fact, which is as high-octane as you can get in a cup of coffee. Opt instead for apples – in a pie, a tart, a crisp (this is a good choice – the topping will have oats in it, and oats are really good for menopausal women), baked, or fresh, with berries and nuts. Italian cuisine has some primo desserts, but alas, you need to consider the risk-reward ratio here; highly-processed carbs and sugars are bad news for your blood sugar, and coffee or chocolate may trigger hot flashes in the night.
- After-dinner Coffee
It’s still possible to enjoy a cup after your meal – just make it decaf. Caffeine is a stimulant, and while it’s not bad for you, at night it can interfere with sleep, and can also trigger those pesky hot flashes. So, try some decaf with cream for a change.
- To Drink, or Not to Drink
Many couples like to drink wine with their meals. If you’re not in menopause, this is not a bad thing. However, you are in perimenopause, and alcohol is one of the stimulants that may trigger your symptoms. You can choose to just go for it, and take the consequences – after all, you may not be one of the women it affects this way – but if you are, you’ll pay for it later in the night. You don’t have to abandon alcohol – just moderate your intake to one drink a day at most. So, choose a sparkling wine like a spumante, and make the glass last the entire meal.
Menopause does not have to get in the way of romance, or put the kibosh on a romantic dinner. You do, however, have to put some thought into what that romantic dinner consists of, or be prepared to face the consequences later. It’s perfectly possible to go out on the town and stay within the parameters of a menopausal diet. So, bon appetit!