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On The Menu: Your Questions About Menopause & Nutrition (Part 1)

body image gentle nutrition intuitive eating menopause menopause health midlife women midlifewomen self-care self-compassion un-dieting

Welcome to the first of a series of bonus episodes of The Midlife Feast, where we're flipping the script! Today, I’m in the hot seat and my podcast manager, Dee-Anna (who just turned 40) will be asking some of the questions asked by those of you in this community!


#1: How can I make myself only eat as much food as my body actually needs and not one calorie more?

Ever had that feeling where you just want to eat precisely what your body needs, not a calorie more? It’s tempting to want to check a box like that at every meal. Jenn starts us off by unraveling the illusion diet and wellness culture has spun – the myth that we can accurately calculate our exact caloric needs. Spoiler alert: it's not as precise as they make it sound! Plus, the idea that you can hit the bullseye with your daily calories and suddenly feel fantastic is pure fiction. It's all about how you feel in your body that truly counts.

#2: What are easy add-ins to meals to boost nutrition?

No fancy gadgets or complicated recipes, just straightforward additions. Jenn suggests you imagine a pyramid of gentle nutrition. Start with the foundation: adequacy – is your meal enough for your needs? If it is, then think about adding nutrition through balance and variety. For example, you can jazz up your meals with extra plants – throw some spinach on your sandwich, add a handful of berries to your cereal, or sprinkle some nuts and seeds on your salad. 

#3 How do I get help understanding what needs to change in my diet when my doctor doesn’t take me seriously? 

First of all-you're not alone. Most of us have been there and you deserve answers, not silence from your healthcare provider. That's where community comes into play. Finding the right support system and a safe space to share your experiences and questions can be a game-changer in your midlife journey.

It's heartbreaking when you feel adrift in midlife, especially when you're thriving in other areas of life. But here's the thing: with the right support, we can normalize these experiences and regain our confidence. 

Did you enjoy this episode? If so, make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss any of the bonus episodes we’re preparing for you where we answer even more of your questions about midlife nutrition! 


Jenn Salib Huber 0:00
Hi, and welcome to the Midlife Feast, the podcast for women who are hungry for more in this season of life. I'm your host, Dr. Jenn Salib Huber. I'm an intuitive eating dietitian and naturopathic doctor, and I help women manage menopause with old dieting and food rolls. Come to my table. Listen and learn from me. Trusted guest experts in women's health and interviews with women just like you.

Each episode brings to the table juicy conversations designed to help you feast on midlife. And if you're looking for more information about menopause, nutrition and intuitive eating, check out the midlife beasts community my monthly membership that combines my no nonsense approach that you all love to nutrition with community so that you can learn from me and others who can relate to the cheers and challenges of midlife. All right. Hi, everyone.

Welcome to this episode of the midlife feast, which is going to be a little different, actually very different than how we've done every other episode. So my guest today is actually somebody who you don't actually know but actually knows a lot about all of you. Because Deanna is my podcast editor extraordinaire. I don't know what else to call you, the podcast, everything. But you're going to actually be asking me questions today. So welcome, first of all,

Dee-Anna 1:21
thank you. So excited to be here.

Jenn Salib Huber 1:26
Um, okay, so let's get into what these little bonus episodes are all about. So, about two weeks ago, I put out a questionnaire to my newsletter and to people on social media asking, How can I help you make menopause, nutrition feel easy. And I was blown away and overwhelmed and pleasantly surprised by how open and honest people were about what they really need, and really specific. And so even though there was two questions on this questionnaire, one was just a checkbox one, almost 50 People actually commented with very specific questions.

So I wanted to do my best to answer as many of those as I could, and thought that doing them as a podcast, instead of like a live or in a story on Instagram, or in a blog post would be a fun way to connect. And since Dianna turned 40, this year, and, and it's still very much in the early days of mothering, with two relatively younger children compared to my teenagers. But we thought it would be fun to have kind of you asked me some of these questions.

Dee-Anna 2:39
Yes, that's my honor. Yeah, I love I love what they came up with, too, because I think a lot of people are asking these questions. So just to put it out there. So good. So okay, are you ready?

Jenn Salib Huber 2:52
I'm ready. Let's

Dee-Anna 2:53
do it. Okay, this first one is a little bit, a little bit heavy. But I think a lot of people feel this way. There's more of a comment. And it she just expressed, like, I wish I could make myself only eat as much food as my body actually needs and not one calorie more.

Jenn Salib Huber 3:15
Yeah, when I read that one, too, I thought, Oh, my goodness, how often has have we all felt that way. Because knowing the idea of knowing exactly how much we should eat, I think is part of the illusion that diet wellness culture have created for us this idea that we can know exactly how much to eat, we can calculate it down to like the calorie that we can track and measure and count all of our food to a high enough degree of accuracy that we could actually get those numbers to meet up.

But I think that that really is an illusion, because the calculations that we have to estimate, estimating the key word, while how many calories or how much energy we need, are flawed, there are some more accurate ways, but those are really only accessible in like a lab setting. So when we're taking someone's height, when we're taking someone's, you know, estimated activity level, they're just estimates. So the number that you think you're shooting for probably has a 1015 20% margin of error. And it's also going to depend what you're doing every day, how much you're moving, how much you're sleeping, what else is going on, that influences your body's needs. So the way that I often describe it is like, it's like the back of a watch. If you take the back of the watch off. You're gonna have 100 moving parts.

One of those is food and one of those is movement. Yeah, the other parts you can't control. But the other side of that equation is can we actually measure can we actually trust labels? So, you know, by law, there is a margin of error all out. And depending on the type of food, it can be up to 20%. And so I know when I've seen, you know, consumer shows where they're like testing how much is actually in something, whether it's supplements or food, it's never what's on the label. Right, right. Yeah. So the idea that one, we can know exactly how much you need.

And to that you can actually count how much you're eating. I think it's just, it's, it's an illusion. But I would say that really intuitive eating teaches us that we don't need to count to measure that. We actually have this barometer to tell us when we're hungry. And when we're full. We just need to learn to listen to it. So very relatable question, but hopefully that gives a little bit of comfort, maybe?

Dee-Anna 5:42
Yeah, totally. Well, and if you think about like, you're thinking about that much margin of error, and proportion to how much time and energy we spend, tracking, measuring all of those things. And how much brain space that limited brain space that we have in midlife and how much it takes up. And how much really could be freed up to be doing so many other much more important things. It is really overwhelming. So I think that's just important to keep in mind as well is that even if you nail it, you don't feel great, like so. Yeah, no one, it

Jenn Salib Huber 6:22
really is all about how we feel in our bodies that matters. And so I think that that brings up a great point that we we think that checking all the boxes is what's going to give us the comfort and the confidence. But it's a false prophet.

Dee-Anna 6:38
Yeah, no. Okay. Well, um, what about this one? This one's good and practical. I feel like what are easy add ons to meals to boost nutrition, like adding pumpkin seeds to a meal, I pretty boring. A pretty boring diet and elaborate meals are just not happening for me.

Jenn Salib Huber 6:58
elaborate meals don't happen for you. So I love the added mindset. So we always talk about nutrition by addition and not subtraction. And so I love that this person is already thinking about what can I add? Yeah. So if everyone can kind of visualize this gentle nutrition pyramid, which is Rachel Hartley's little invention, which I use all the time, and always try to remember to give her credit, because this is totally her baby. Picture a pyramid and the bottom of the pyramid is adequacy. So the foundation of your pyramid needs to be is this adequate in this moment for this meal for what I need? Then we can?

And if the answer is yes, then we can think about okay, what can I add in which will add the next layers, which are, you know, related to balance and variety? So, if you're thinking about what can you add in, that's not elaborate. I always like to ask myself, like, Are there more plants that I could put on my plate. So that might be three pieces of spinach on a sandwich, it might be half a bag of spinach in a soup just because it's in the fridge, and it's easy to throw in. Maybe it's adding some extra berries to a cereal, maybe it's making, you know, mixed nuts and seeds as a salad topper, or to put on yogurt or oatmeal or something like that. But I think that if you have little things that we know are nutrient dense, that pack a lot of punch, and you just think like, is there an opportunity for me to add this, that will actually enhance my fullness, my satisfaction? Probably there's more options.

And we think like I keep for example, like frozen at a mommy in the freezer, so that I can throw that into a soup or a salad or stir fry or just to have isn't like we often will do rice bowls like Pokeballs at home. And it's so easy to just defrost me to like cooked at a mummy. So I think that we sometimes overcomplicate when we're trying to make more nutritious choices, or we're trying to add our nutrition, we think that it needs to be fancy, but as this person already says like that's not happening for them. So just add in, remember the adequacy foundation and then think Is there anything that I can add that will add more balance and more variety? And how can I make that an accessible choice without having to think about it all the time. So keeping those things on hand in a place where you'll remember them is key.

Dee-Anna 9:19
Totally, I always laugh because I love that you're like what do you call yourself that fearless defender of sandwiches or oatmeal and you have to vote but you love you will ever you will also defend sandwiches which isn't oatmeal. Yeah. And I love to me those are two super easy places to add in and so I kind of just need a few wins once in a while. You know it's just like wherever I can take those simple wins and just throwing some lettuce on a sandwich and feeling like I conquered for something you know like

Jenn Salib Huber 9:57
and letting go the food rolls so somebody in the community last week I'm also brought up about that they were craving, like, what was it Iceberg lettuce and Italian dressing. And they just had this craving for somebody in the beyond the skill group actually, in the community. And so, because we're underwriting these food rules, and of course, diet culture would tell us that and wellness culture would say that there's no point in eating Iceberg lettuce, there's no value to it, it's just water. And that the Italian dressing has too much, you know, sugar and that kind of stuff.

So anyway, she just went and she had it, she made it and it was so satisfying. And if you think about, like, you know, it's a plant, of course, it's still, you know, like we can, I can welcome back like, there's no better crunch than Iceberg lettuce. If you're brunch on a salad or a sandwich. Yeah, make it easy, like lower the bar. My other favorite thing to say, you know, buy the pre cut veggies by the bagged salad, like, make it easy, make it accessible, but also just lower the bar in terms of how much and what you think you need versus what will add to your satisfaction, what will add to balance, add variety, but not trying to make it kind of better than it already is. You're just trying to make it more

Dee-Anna 11:14
100%. Yeah. Love it. Okay. So for this, this one, I just feel this in my bones. Again, it's a comment. But there's so much into this. So she says I just need help in understanding what needs to change in my diet. I also would love to join a community to support and get support. I feel so alone and not understood. I get crickets from my doctor. I think I have led a productive career if the so many challenges and pressures made good achievements, get this whole challenge of trying to find my way through menopause has been so lost. Thank you for all you do.

Jenn Salib Huber 11:55
Oh, yeah, I feel that one too. And this is one of the reasons why we and this had been like percolating for a few months of really just wanting to help make this easier that this whole idea of it being hard, just wasn't sitting well with me like it shouldn't be hard. It it's not that it's always a walk in the park, or that there's something wrong with you if it is hard. But it's just like, it shouldn't be so hard to get information that you trust that you know, to be true that it's actually helpful. It definitely shouldn't be hard to get support from your health care provider, like you should not be getting crickets, from your health care provider, about one life stage that like half the planet's gonna go through, right.

But community comes up so often. So when I asked people at the end of most of my podcasts, what do you think is the missing ingredient midlife? Like you've heard this, you know, like, probably almost 100 times now. And community is really what comes up so often because we do really feel alone. So I think that finding community is obviously what I'm all about. But just knowing that it's out there, knowing that you're not broken, because this isn't easy, like, you know, you, you're doing the best you can with the resources that you have at the time. But that doesn't mean that you can't add to that toolbox. Right? And if you're not getting answers from one place, look elsewhere. There's there's lots of us out there who are trying to create this space, but start with someone that you trust. Start with a place that feels like self and, you know, safe and welcoming, because I think that for a lot of these places, and spaces online especially, you know, sometimes it's a little I think it's too hardcore.

Like I feel like sometimes it's like, you know, you're joining this program, I've heard this from others who say like I'm joining this program, and oh my goodness, there's stuff I have to do like every day for 12 weeks, it's great to find what you really want is like a safe place to land that has information that is accessible on your own time. And yet also has that, you know, support either from you know, experts or you know, people who are trained to give that advice, but also from other people because you can only learn so much from one person and learning from others who are in that same age and stage is equally as valuable. So of course I'm gonna mention the midlife feast community, but there are others. But you know, I think that especially if you're looking for the community support and information you can trust. I would love to welcome this person to our community.

Dee-Anna 14:39
I echo that 100% And the thing about that one is just that it's so heartbreaking that she feels so good about so many other things in her life and yet this is the thing that kind of is breaking her, you know, and it's so, so unnecessary. You know if I'm If we just have the right support, and we can normalize our this experience, because it's very normal.

Jenn Salib Huber 15:07
And as I always say, you know, we get to this stage in our lives and feel confident about pretty much everything. I feel confident going to the grocery store and pajama pants because I don't care. Like, there's so many things that I literally could not care less about, and feel super confident in that. And so many other you know, we always hear about like, Oh, you're in midlife, you have no more fucks to give. And it's amazing, except when it comes to trusting our bodies. 100% a big gap. That is the big gap. So and I'm on a mission to change that.

Dee-Anna 15:41
You're doing it.

Jenn Salib Huber 15:44
Okay, so that was like the first three questions. So I think we're gonna stop there for this episode. And we will be back with more because we have lots of questions. And if this is something that you'd love, and want to see more of, make sure to let us know so that we know to keep this ball rolling. So thanks, Deanna. Absolutely. Thanks for tuning in to this week's episode of the midlife feast. For more non diet help hormone and general midlife support. Click the link in the show notes to learn how you can work and learn from me. And if you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, please consider leaving a review or subscribing because it helps other women just like you find us and feel supported in midlife.


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