Menopause and Food Allergies

by Jo Macdonald

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I've been having wild dreams lately.  The kind that makes your pulse race in anticipation and pleasure.  Dreams about...

Cheese.

Yes, I know, I'm taking wildness to a whole new level.

And not just cheese, but milkshakes, ice-cream, and steaming bowls of custard.  Dreams so vivid I can almost taste them.  Which is doubly frustrating because ever since I entered perimenopause I've suffered from a chronic sensitivity to dairy.  I mean, who even knew that could happen?  Not me.  Hot flushes - yes.  Hair growing in weird places, and disappearing from others - yes.  Mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, and a dozen other things - yes, yes, yes!  But dairy intolerance - come on, seriously.   

Now just the smallest bit of cheese or a scoop of ice-cream, and my sinuses completely freak out, I get a headache, nausea, and if I'm really lucky bloating too.  Gone are the after-dinner snacks of creamy Boursain on crackers, a slice of mature Cheddar with a dollop of chutney, or a summery bowl of Eton Mess.  And whilst I don't mind having Soya milk hot chocolates, and soya ice-cream is actually not too bad, I can honestly say that I'm yet to find a decent substitute for my beloved Cheddar. 

As more and more women are beginning to talk openly about their menopause experience, so the pool of information is growing.  And it turns out that developing food allergies (and other allergies) is actually not that uncommon.  Thanks to our fluctuating hormones it seems that all sorts of things can start to bother us during perimenopause (and not just our husbands or kids), with gluten and dairy being common irritants.  

It's important to pay attention to your body and overall wellbeing.  Notice how you're feeling and note down any symptoms to see if you can find a pattern.  If you notice that you are getting headaches, bloating, stomach cramps or any other unusual symptoms after 40 then first talk to your GP to rule out any other medical issues.  If you suspect your problems may be food related then start keeping a food diary to see which foods might be causing the problems.  You can also opt for an allergy test and arrange to see a nutritionist to discuss how to keep your diet healthy whilst cutting out those foods that are causing you problems.  Remember that we need to keep our calcium intake high after 40 to help reduce the risk of developing Osteoporosis so it's always best to talk to someone before eliminating foods altogether. 

Don't suffer in silence, be proactive with your health and, in the meantime, let's all please keep our fingers crossed that someone creates a dairy free cheese that actually tastes like cheese!     

 


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