At 41, Lorraine Palmer began suffering from hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings and skin issues—all symptoms of early onset menopause. Instead of opting for the standard Hormone Replacement Therapy, however (as her doctors recommended), she decided to try a mostly raw, vegan diet.
Amazingly, all her menopausal symptoms disappeared.
She’s been on this diet for six years, and is now a full-time health coach with her own business: Uncovered.
Her vegan journey didn’t happen overnight. Like many people on a plant-based diet, she started cutting out meat and animal products gradually.
“I would say that it has taken me almost 4/5 years to decide that vegan is the way,” explains Palmer. “I was noticing throughout the stages above that I did feel better as I ate less and less animal products but I guess I did not totally commit myself to going vegan until it was the right time for me … I just knew it made sense. I had to go through the process my way.”
This new way of eating has changed her life, Palmer says, and given her more energy.
“I know eating and drinking the way I do has helped my menopause symptoms because in the past when I have eaten / drank certain things e.g. a majority meat meal and processed foods, my menopause symptoms have returned—all things contribute. I know for sure that if you eat more clean, more raw and vegan foods you will be providing your body with the nourishment it needs.”
She also feels lighter, less bloated and is more in touch with her body.
“I also try a lot of different foods, more than I ever did when I ate meat. It’s strange because I use to put meat at the centre of my meal back in the day but since being vegan, all foods are the stars on my plate—no extras, they all deserve Oscars!”
In addition, the diet has changed her attitude and level of awareness.
“I do feel my level of consciousness about the planet and what part I am playing in it has increased to the extent that the work I do now is being more drawn to focus on assisting women (in particular) to eat more clean specially vegan and more raw. My raw book for menopausal women will be out this year. It is my way of helping others to be inspired to eat more healthy in a way they are not use to – eating more raw is not just about a plate of salad or a piece of fruit.”
She has lots of excellent advice for women suffering from the same issues she was.
“I could be cheeky and say just go vegan now and save yourself the umming and ahhing but that would be wrong of me,” Palmer says. “I know that we all have to go through things in our own way. For me being vegan is not a fad diet but a way of eating that is purely good for me (you), animals and the planet—that can’t be bad … helping all those three things simultaneously is huge.”
She recommends starting a food and mood diary for two weeks before seeing a doctor about menopause symptoms, to identify how you feel when you eat/drink certain substances.
“Having this diary really helps see where there may be patterns running through your days,” she says.
“After the above you could set yourself a challenge or goal e.g. to eliminate all meats from your diet for a week and see how you feel during and after. You could go one step further the following week and eliminate dairy as well—doing both initially maybe too much for you but it is worth a try. One word of advice though—this does not give you license to eat a load of processed vegan foods that may be filled with high trans fats, sugar and salt—that can also be damaging to your health. Not all vegan eaters eat a healthy diet. You would be just replacing your meat diet with another unhealthy alternative. This is about eating more clean. Your hormones are already going through a transitional (maybe turbulent) time—you do not want to add to it.”
Palmer’s advice and experience isn’t just anecdotal. According to the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, diet (and exercise) can play a major role in the severity of menopausal symptoms.