How I Gave Myself a Hot Flash

by in Discipline, Kitchen Sink, Menopause June 11, 2008

hotflash.jpgOne day I was hanging out with a girlfriend drinking coffee before we headed to our favorite Thai Food restaurant.

I ordered a glass of red wine (you know because the polyphenols are going to prevent me from having a heart attack someday), and my favorite curry seafood basket (because curry is a fabulous superfood).

Halfway through dinner, I suddenly broke out in a TERRIBLE sweat.

I was unbearably hot!!!

Almost as hot as my friend when he accidentally mistook the entire chunk of green wasabi for a piece of sushi! Being a big fan of Chinese Medicine I immediately began to analyze the energetic properties of the foods that I had just consumed. Everything was heating. Coffee, red wine, curry…

Worse yet I realized I had just consumed everything on the “NO NO” list for the menopausal diet.

Gosh no wonder caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods are so forbidden for those with hot flashes! I am nowhere even near menopause and I gave myself a hot flash from this terrible trifecta of thermogenic trauma.

The next day I had a friend at work ask me how naturopathic medicine could help her hot flashes. I gave her my typical spiel on the “Naturopathic Approach to Menopause” and “Nutrition Care During Menopause” along with some individualized recommendations. When I got to the spicy foods, caffeine, sugar, and alcohol part she rolled her eyes and said…

“Well that is my entire diet! How can I not eat those things?”

Busting out the tough love, I responded “Well maybe that is why you have been suffering from these horrible hot flashes for five plus some odd years that appear to be refractory to most common treatments including hormone replacement therapy.”

Instead of asking her to take my word on it, I simply said “Go eat all of those things in one meal and come back and tell me how you felt.”

The hot flashes that she had that night and over the next 24 hour period were some of the worst EVER, she reported, after her “menopausal showcase showdown” that involved a bottle of red wine, spicy spaghetti (which she added extra red pepper flakes to), tiramisu and a double espresso for dessert. Enough to make just about anyone break in to a sweat.

Oftentimes whatever food we are attached to in life is EXACTLY what makes us sick.

The patient with high cholesterol loves their meat and fried foods, the hypertensive patient shakes salt liberally on every meal, the diabetic patient sits in the grocery store parking lot and frantically eats a box of donuts after a stressful day. I could go on and on all day with these examples, but my point is that food should be nourishment and nothing else. What we should enjoy about food is how it makes us feel. Recognizing food as nourishment is the key to keeping our health in balance. If we are going to eat indulgences, we should enjoy them in moderation. The body forgives moderation better than it does an entire meal that promotes disease or uncomfortable symptoms.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen table!

~ Dr. Nicole Sundene

Naturopathic Physician

One Comment
  1. […] and that without my hormone pills, I would be the psycho woman throwing chairs out windows between hot flashes as I attempt to stand up from my wheelchair (of which I would be in because I didn’t take my RA […]

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