Welcome to your 40s: eating the proverbial horse

It never fails: ever since I hit my mid 40s, there’s a part of the month that makes me want to eat a horse.

Not a literal horse, you understand, but rather the implied quantity of a horse. 🐎

I am sooo hungry during that week and a half, and never satisfied. Never full. No matter how much I eat. It usually hits me the second part of my cycle, right before PMS.

Yes. Women in their 40s get PMS. 🙄

And I eat a lot then.

🍱🍳🍔🍗🍖🧀🌮🌯🍳🍝🍜🍛🍰🍩🍫🍇🍓🍒🍏

I tried to adjust my diet a bit to help manage myself better. I mean, I got a household to run, work to do, kids to raise and no time for this crap.

So.

I begin my week in question with water before coffee, then coffee, then more water. Next, I must eat breakfast containing protein and full (healthy) fats. This is crucial and key to my (and my family’s) survival rate. 😂

The protein sustains me until lunch time, which is a good thing since I don’t have cravings for sugary, sweet treats mid morning.

When I used to eat high carb, no protein breakfasts (toast, oatmeal, muffins, scones), I often felt hungry an hour later, and craving sweets. This is very bad for me as it sets the tone for a rapid descent into sugar-crash fatigue right in time for the high-energy after-school-homework-eat-get-to-the-rink time.

I can’t walk around like a zombie for half the day and into the evening…

(Yes, I do have some hypoglycemia aka low blood sugar, and not everyone is a wimp like me, but even still, we all know by now that too many refined carbs, and sugar, are not good for you…)

So what works for me at the start of the day?

The quickest breakfast is yogurt, like this:

  • full fat plain Greek or Balkan style yogurt
  • nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, flax, hazelnuts or almonds)
  • fresh or frozen berries (blueberries, raspberries)

Fat reduced yogurt doesn’t sustain me long, and by an hour and a half later I want to eat again. Trust me. Full fat is the way to go. (Also, you end up eating less.)

Another quick breakfast is poached eggs in the microwave. Make a sandwich out of a whole grain English muffin (which is some carbs, so less ideal) and add cheese or bacon/ham to increase the protein.

Sometimes however, I make a more elaborate breakfast after the kids leave the house (less likely), or on weekends (more likely). Something like this:

  • omelet with greens, veg and cheese (feta is a favorite…)
  • fried or scrambled egg with greens, cheese, or a slice of whatever lunch meat I have around
  • meat or fish leftover from dinner with a poached or boiled egg and greens
  • boiled eggs with ham, or canned salmon (or smoked if I have it)
  • baked beans with bacon (this is a winter thing and I sometimes add an egg or have some on whole grain toast)

This kind of first meal of the day keeps my mind off food till lunch. I swear by it, and I notice the difference later in the day when I don’t tend to crash or feel all fatigued and lethargic. I’ve also discovered that it’s not that much more work – baked beans can be made on a weekend and stored in the fridge, eggs in a microwave takes 35 seconds for one, 60 seconds for two.

Have you ever paid attention to this? It’s funny, this food thing. The brain is quite capable of encouraging you to reach for more sugar every time you eat something that contains sugar. Or is made of white carbs which the brain interprets as sugar.

Muffin with coffee?

Have a scone with the next coffee.

Coffee and scone all gone? Reach for some chocolate.

Maddening. It causes a never ending cycle of consuming too many carbs and way too much sugar.

Food cravings are really distracting. I don’t want to waste energy pining and fantasizing about pumpkin spice scones or cranberry lemon muffins all day.

(Now I want pumpkin spice scones and cranberry lemon muffins…)

But.

Sooner or later, I want lunch.

This is trickier during my horse-eating week than the rest of the month.

Why?

Because I know if I didn’t make the effort to sustain my protein intake at breakfast, upped with a lot of veg, I would crave carbs for lunch too. Pastas, noodles, sandwiches heavy on the bread…

Sigh.

And what’s worse, I’d end up snacking on salty, unhealthy foods from 4 o’clock onward, often ending with a glass or three of wine at dinner and then a lethargic, irritable descent into a crash at 9pm.

This doesn’t work when you’re sitting in traffic and rinks half the evening. Nor does it help while herding kids to bed (or arguing about unfinished homework) by the time everyone is home again.

In my experience, if you’re in your mid 40s and beyond, a diet high  in carbs, sugar and lack of full fats and protein are all about:

  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Impatience

You get the picture.

The trick to get through that challenging week leading to PMS and beyond is to focus heavily on meal planning. I must ensure all the right ingredients are in-house, and, if possible, meals are ready to eat (I.e. home-made prepared freezer food, or food portioned into containers in the fridge, grab-and-go style).

  • quinoa or couscous salads with protein
  • yesterday’s leftover meat with greens and veg (chicken Cesar salad, mixed greens with veg and leftover beef)
  • boiled eggs for a quick protein-pick-me-up topped with mustard, mayo or yogurt and herbs
  • cheese and gluten free crackers
  • hummus with veg or crackers
  • soup

I do make a lot of chunky soups with bone broth and protein for at least half a year, and now is the right time to start cooking again as we step onto the threshold of autumn. The soups sustain, and nourish as well.

When I don’t pay attention to my food intake during that hormonal-challenged week, I demand require everyone stay the hell away from me.

Or bring me cheese, wine and chocolate, and get out and leave me to wallow and sleep it off.

Female hormones are not for wimps. Especially not during peri-menopause. It takes a lot of understanding by fellow residents in the household, something that is often hit and miss.

When my girl child says “poor mommy” during those days, I count my (and her) lucky stars she’s not there yet. I do say to her that she too will be facing some of these challenges one day, but she just blows me a raspberry and says “boo”.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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