Friday, August 20, 2010

Movie Review and Perimenopause Information:

(Massimo enjoying the fresh air)

Yesterday was one of those days that were generally chaotic and disorganized with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I had quite a few things on my to-do list that remain unfinished. The weather was fairly cool and we had the windows open again yesterday. The felines were loving being in the window sills with their fuzz blowing.

Review Food, Inc.:

One of my friends called and was telling me about Food, Inc. assuming I had seen it. Since this was the second of my omnivore friends to rave about the movie I thought it was time to watch it. I had been avoiding the movie assuming it would have graphic scenes that I didn’t want to see and wouldn’t provide much new information. I was right on both counts. However the movie did a good job of coalescing disparate but related information into an interesting cohesive film.

One fact that I had not heard before was the connection of GMO soy with the weed killer Round Up. According to the film soy was genetically modified so that the field could be sprayed with round up to kill the weeds but not affect the soy. If this is true that is why GMO soy should be avoided. According to Monsanto’s own website they call their soy “Round Up ready soybean technology”. Sounds like the film got it right. *sigh*

For those of you that buy meat analogs many of them contain GMO soy and worse yet GMO soy protein isolate. I would caution you to do your own research. I won’t eat any of those products anymore for health reasons. Now knowing they contain Round Up makes it even more unpalatable for me.

Overall it was a good film and one I would encourage everyone to watch. There are some scenes that caused me to turn away but I think the information was worth the discomfort. If you have Netflix streaming that is how I watched up. But I have also seen the movie at our local library branch.


Men should feel free to skip this section. Since I have been doing a bit of research on this recently (for obvious reasons) and wanted to share what I have learned.

I should start this by saying that for years I thought PMS was a vast female conspiracy to have an excuse for being moody. However I changed my mind on this in my late 30’s when I started to experience PMS.  Perimenopause is a little like PMS, only much worse. From what I have read it starts sooner for women that eat a healthy vegan diet. Supposedly it is less intense for these women as well. If this is true change your diet now because it isn’t good at the level I am experiencing I can not imagine it being worse. Some of the things that I have happen so far are: insomnia, vast mood swings, forgetfulness, and abdominal bloating. I have missed the hot flashes and night sweats thus far thankfully. According to what I have been reading these symptoms could last anywhere from 2 to 10 years. Yay? Clearly I need to figure out how to deal with this since it will be with me for a while. *rolls eyes*

From what I have been reading the drop in estrogen is less dramatic for those women that abstain from meat and dairy making the symptoms less severe. Additionally entering perimenopause earlier is associated with a reduction in the overall risk of breast cancer for the same reason that having child has that association. The fewer monthly cycles you have the better.

I have also read that consuming soy helps to relieve the symptoms by adding the weaker phytoestrogens to your body which is producing less of its own estrogen. I have been adding a couple of tablespoons of dry roasted edamame each time I have my daily green tea (5 or 6 times per day). This is a bit of twofer since consuming soy (not soy milk with interferes) with green tea has a synergistic effect. I also plan to add more tempeh, tofu and fresh/frozen edamame for the same reason. My goal is to get two servings of soy per day with my preference being whole soy. I think it is too soon to say if the soy is helping or not. But I will keep you posted on how this goes for me.

I have also read that black cohosh and valerian can help with the symptoms. I have not tried either of those but if you are experiencing symptoms you may want to do a little research on them yourself. Prevention had this article on perimenopause on their daily email today. I thought some of you might want to check it out.

For now the worst part of this seems to be the trouble sleeping. I find it difficult to function when I am constantly tired. If any of you are going through this and have any suggestions I would love to hear them as I am sure others would as well. ;-)  Please feel free to share what you have learned or experienced.

My food since the last post:

For breakfast yesterday I made Dan his usual oatmeal with mixed frozen berries, cinnamon, ginger, ground flaxseeds and walnuts. I cooked what was left in the oatmeal container which was a bit too much for his breakfast so I saved about 2/3 of cup of cooked oatmeal in the refrigerator for my smoothie. Once Dan was off to work and I had time to exercise I made myself a smoothie. It contained the cooked oats, 2 peaches, 1 cup frozen cherries, cinnamon, ground ginger, 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, 1 tablespoon ground flax, 1 cup baby spinach, water and ice. This smoothie was really good. I don’t always have frozen cherries on hand but they are really good in a smoothie.

Lunch was a simple salad of shredded romaine, diced tomatoes, caponata and pine nuts. I have been enjoying caponata on salad these last few days but yesterday was the end of it. Now I need to come up with something else to use for salad dressing.

I have been craving bread or pasta for about a week. While I try to listen to my body when it wants something that is not optimally healthy I try to put that off as long as possible. Since my flour craving was not going away I decided to defrost a few mushroom ravioli I had stashed in the freezer in a food saver bag. These were made pre-blog which means I don’t have the specific recipe to post. If you want to make your own ravioli they are very easy. Here is my favorite pasta dough recipe.  Also tofu ricotta and porcini mushroom or spinach makes a great filling.

Dinner last night was shredded romaine, diced tomatoes, mushroom ravioli and a creamy walnut sauce.

Breakfast this morning was a simple romaine salad topped with the eggplant and tomato salad, falafel from the freezer, Middle Eastern eggplant and cashew sesame sauce. I topped it with a few pine nuts for garnish. I had with a hot water with lemon. Since I wasn’t overly hungry this morning I wanted something on the light side but that was substantial enough to keep my fueled while I took care of my usual Friday errands.

As you may have noticed by now I use my freezer as part of my pantry.  It plays a big part in my being able to get a varied meal on the table rapidly.  This is why I also make extra food to stash in the freezer. Those frozen items are a big time saver later when I am short on time.

For now I need to do a few things here, check on my folks. I am planning on cooking something different tonight so I should be back with a recipe later today. I hope everyone is having a great Friday. Aren’t Friday’s just the best? They are my favorite day of the week. ;-) Talk to you all again soon.


  1. I agree, Monsanto is evil...another consequence is that pollen from round up ready & other genetically modified crops often float into organic fields and adulterate their organic crops. It's a serious problem...if Monsanto had their way, every farmer would be forced to buy their evil seeds.

    On a lighter note: those ravioli look yummy; I bet they'd be great with the eggplant salsa from yesterday's post.

  2. Funny, several people have assumed I've seen Food Inc, too, but I haven't. I actually own it, because I got a really good deal on it, so I really have no excuse for not having seen it! Sorry you have having a rough time, those symptoms don't sound fun at all. Thanks for sharing here though, I'm sure many people will benefit from your research as always. Have a nice weekend!

  3. Rose,

    The round up ready soybeans are really scary. Just the thought of what that means people are consuming since soy protein isolate seems to be in most processed food makes me shiver.

    Thanks for the ravioli love. I have not made any in ages. It is amazing how well things keep in the freezer when you use a vacuum sealer. Those things work much better than I ever expected them to.

    The eggplant spread is almost gone. Clearly I need to spend some time in the kitchen this afternoon replenishing my ready to eat food stash. ;-)

    hope you are having a good Friday,

  4. Sarah,

    You should watch it. I was surprised by what a good job they did. Even as much research as I do I picked up a few things.

    I never expected perimenopause to be a problem. Actually I never really thought about it other then some older women I knew getting hot flashes. The mood swings and trouble sleeping are hard to deal with. I feel as though I am continually sleep deprived and frequently sad for no reason. But other than that it isn't terrible more a big irritant than anything else.

    Since it was all so unexpected for me I wanted to warn others what could be coming so they weren't caught off guard like I was. ;-) Hopefully adding organic soy to my diet will start to pay off soon.

    Happy Friday!

  5. I agree, but it's more serious than people just eating the stuff...the most serious consequence in my opinion, is that it puts organic food production at risk...if organic crops are adulterated and organic seeds are pushed out of the market...which they are trying to make happen by the way (they produce many different genetically modified seeds...not only soybeans), we won't have any choice but to eat the genetically modified artificial food. It's good that films like that one are raising awareness of these types of issues.

    Hope you have a good Friday too. :)

  6. I have not seen that movie yet mostly for the same reasons you were not wanting to watch. Thanks for the review and thanks for the perimenopause info as well. Hope you're having a good Friday.

  7. Rose,

    Our organic farmer friend is of the same mindset as you. It is all just so disturbing!

    I for one really don't want to eat anything that is designed to be impervious to pesticide. That just can't be good. The current cross contamination is a problem that is only going to get worse.

    If you haven't seen the movie you should. You will spend much of the time agreeing with what is said.


  8. Beautiful salads. Interesting about perimenopause starting earlier for vegans. I guess that's good for us who don't have children regarding the breast cancer risk. Hang in there. It's tough being a woman!

  9. Aimee,

    I do love my salads don't I? LOL! Most weeks it feels like it is all I eat. ;-)

    I only have cat children (Dan Jr. is my husband's son from his first marriage) so I was happy to read about the breast cancer reduction too.

    The symptoms definitely seem to come and go without any pattern. I will be much better once I get a little more rest. ;-)

    hope you are having a good Friday,

  10. Okay...I want to make sure I'm understanding - are you saying that perimenopause will start sooner for us? But the symptoms will be less severe?

    I have never seen Food Inc. I do want to watch it, but it's really hard for me to watch films like this. I know most of what it's going to say, and it just makes me feel more depressed and powerless. I'd like to watch it with someone who could benefit from watching it, though.

    I can't stomach eating gmo soy. Occasionally I'll realize something I ate contains it, but I try to be careful about it. Sometimes it's on the label, and sometimes I have to call the company. I feel the same way about corn. I can't stomach eating gmo corn after someone gave us some corn seeds so we could plant some corn. The list of ingredients in the corn seed was astonishing. So many chemicals - I had no idea. I threw them away.

    I know a lot about this topic because this is what my in-laws do for a living - grow large amounts of corn and's hard for me to talk badly about it because they are wonderful people...but it's tough to watch. It's not really their fault because you wouldn't believe the information in these farm magazines they receive. I've read through them, and it makes it seem like these seeds/plants are AMAZING technology and the wave of the future. I'm getting upset just thinking about it.

    One thing I wonder, and I haven't been able to figure out - is most/all non-organic corn gmo? I've never seen organic corn on the cob for sale so I never buy corn on the cob because no one can tell me for sure.

    Thanks for your time! You are such a wealth of knowledge!

  11. Jenny,

    Yes perimenopause starts sooner and will be less severe for vegans from what I have read. The reduction in breast cancer risk associated with early menopause was also very positive IMO.

    I didn't want to watch Food, Inc. because I didn't want any horrible images burned into my mind. But I just close my eyes until they are over. I thought the film was well done and much more informative than I expected.

    It is my understanding that for a food to be labeled organic that means it can't be genetically modified. Of course their is always the cross contamination possibility from wind but organic is always a safer alternative.

    If corn is conventional I just assume it has been genetically modified. Our CSA grows corn as does another organic farmer at our weekly farmers' market. Organic corn on the cob is hard to find but it is out there. I hope you find some too.


  12. Heather,

    I would recommend that you watch the movie. They really did a nice job with it. Jason will look at things differently after watching it. ;-)

    hope you are having a great Saturday,

  13. Re:Menopause-been there, done that! Best thing you can do is exercise as much as possible, and keep your weight down. I take lots of high quality supplements which are key. I never had hot flashes, but did get depression and insomnia, and a larger waist & belly is usually on the other side of menopause, even if you weigh the same, unless you exercise like a fiend. Just know that it does not last forever. Lots of living on the other side. I have organic, unsweetened soy milk daily, in coffee.

  14. Lola,

    Thanks for the encouragement. I would love to hear more about which supplements you are taking if you are inclined to share the details.

    I have been increasing my exercise and it definitely seems to help with both the depression and insomnia. Good point about keeping weight down I should have mentioned that.

    hope you are having a good weekend and thanks again for the encouragment,

  15. Ali, I'm catching up backwards after being away taking a daughter to college. I can't wait to try the stovetop baked beans. On the perimenopause I have a little information to share (anecdotal): I'm a non-interventionist person as much as possible, but when I had killer cramps and fatigue and VERY heavy flow about three years ago, increasing until two years ago, I went to the doc to see about it. I had the impression that things would just get worse and worse until I gave up and had a hysterectomy or until menopause actually came. But with minimal treatment (mostly just starting ibuprofen at the first sign of trouble and keeping it going round the clock for several days), I was able to stick it out and found that after a really tough year things kind of evened out. In the last year I've gone to very long cycles with much easier periods, more like what I had for most of my life before the bad year. During that bad time I had low-level "warm flashes" that woke me in the early hours, but those have mostly gone away, too. I learned from a helpful chart that all of this makes sense: in the early years of perimenopause the estrogen goes way high and is not well balanced by progesterone, so when the levels decrease cyclically, the "withdrawal" brings on the hot flashes, etc. As perimenopause progresses things even out somewhat and move into a different phase, as the overall estrogen levels decrease. Hot flashes are actually at their worst in the first years after menopause, as the estrogen decreases permanently. Now that I know what to expect I don't feel quite as crazy as I did.

    Here's the link to the article and chart that helped me understand things:

  16. Cindy,

    Thanks for sharing what happened with you. So far the worst part for me has been the crazy mood swings (since I am normally happy) and the insomnia. I have found that increasing my exercise seems to be helping so far.

    I will definitely check out the link you attached. Thanks so much for sharing it. :-)


  17. I was curious about the dry roasted edamame, what else do you do with it and where do you buy it? I'm interested in making some changes to my diet based upon the menopause symptoms I'm experiencing right now.

    It was great to have stumbled upon this blog post because I know how you feel. I too have experienced the sleeplessness, bloating, mood swings and awful hot flashes. It has been interesting trying to weed certain things out of my diet and to see what kind of impact they would have. Some good and some bad.

    Exercise has had the greatest impact on my overall health. But there have been days where I'm so tired, I feel like sleeping 24 hours. Not fun.

    I'm always looking for a solution and promise to let you know if I find one.

  18. I've been going through perimenopause for a while. I'm probably about a year away from menopause. I haven't noticed any symptoms except missed periods and my stomach has a little more fat than I would prefer. I don't eat meat and exercise regularly. I think this is what has helped me avoid a lot of perimenopause symptoms. I also drink a lot of organic soy milk.


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