Updated: Mar 16
I spent the first half of my life working as an elementary school teacher and, along with my husband, raising our two beautiful daughters. Like many families, our lives were very busy. We had our careers, parental responsibilities, school activities and sporting events to attend.
I've always had a strong interest in nutrition, but it truly became a passion of mine while raising our kids. From birth, our children had some health challenges and this had me reading and learning anything I could get my hands on to support their health and wellness.
In my mid-40s, I began to experience some changes in my own health - fatigue, irritability, headaches and IBS-type symptoms. My diet had not changed, yet I just didn’t feel right. During routine exams and bloodwork, I was asked about my periods (yes, I think they’re still regular?), but perimenopause or menopause was never discussed.
When my family moved in 2017 from a small town outside of Ottawa to rural Kingston, I felt it was the right time to put my teaching career to rest and pursue my passion for nutrition. I enrolled at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition (CSNN) and graduated two years later with a diploma in natural nutrition. This earned me a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) designation.
Holistic nutritionists are trained to recognize food intolerance and allergies, blood sugar fluctuations, and the multiple causes of inflammation, which are the source of many common health conditions. Using myself as one of my 12 case studies, I worked to improve my headaches, fatigue and digestion and looked for root causes for my increasing belly fat.
I learned that menopause is a necessary time to optimize our nutrition, rethink our fitness and lifestyle needs and build better health.
I turned 50 the same year I graduated from CSNN and with that came my time to take a number of cancer screening tests. I started with a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), a screening test for colon cancer. My FIT came back positive despite being asymptomatic. I was soon booked in for a colonoscopy and it was this procedure that detected an aggressive malignant polyp. I was told surgical intervention was necessary to remove a section of my colon and its neighbouring lymph nodes.
I healed very well, though I admit I felt cheated by my diagnosis. I was a woman who took great pride in her healthy eating habits and exercise routine. Reflecting back on my studies, I reminded myself that there are many paths to illness and disease. Our diet, lifestyle, genetics, environment, and thoughts all play a significant role in our health. So, I moved forward with my self-care.
Heading into my 52nd year, I officially reached menopause. This set me on a path to better understand the many physiological changes that come with menopause and how to best support our bodies during this stage. I enrolled in the Menopause Support Program at Doula Canada and menopause books became my novels.
Menopause is not just hot flashes and night sweats.
It also goes beyond managing uncomfortable feelings or finding solutions to not feeling well. Due to aging and declining estrogen levels, we are at a greater risk for heart disease, dementia, cancer and osteoporosis. This makes perimenopause and postmenopause a very important time to take stock of our dietary and lifestyle habits.