When naturopath and herbalist and Te Atatu Toasted fan Daisy Wood found herself struggling with perimenopause, she realised just how difficult this life stage must be for women who haven’t been given the knowledge they need to understand what their bodies are going through.
The experience has inspired her to revamp her naturopathic practice so she can focus on offering women support during perimenopause and the first few years of menopause.
“So many women in their early to mid-40s are taken by surprise by perimenopause,” Daisy says. They wonder why they are suddenly dealing with heavy bleeding, migraines they haven’t had since their teenage years, allergies and even gut issues. Or mood changes, worsening PMS and an inability to cope with stress.
For Daisy, this period of her life coincided with a return to fulltime studying, while trying to hold down a part-time job.
Formerly an artist who worked as a chef to pay the bills, she developed a passion for natural health after taking a year-long course on herbs and their medicinal properties. This led to a career in the retail health store industry.
After a while, Daisy realised this work wasn’t fulfilling her passion for helping people, so she began studying for a career as a practitioner while in her mid-40s.
As a naturopathy student, she understood what was happening to her body during those years, but she still felt confused and depressed. She was also struggling with her weight, mood swings and a lack of energy.
“It was so hard that I can really feel for women going through it that don’t realise it’s a normal stage of life, and that we just have to allow it to happen.”
But women can make this time better by supporting their bodies with diet and lifestyle changes and some herbs and supplements, Daisy says. They will also benefit from connecting better with what is going on for them emotionally and psychologically.
And more and more of them are looking for help from a qualified practitioner to do that.
“The women coming into that time of their life are the daughters of the first feminists and they grew up with a greater awareness of their bodies than previous generations.”
Daisy also believes women now are doing it harder when they hit menopause than their mothers and grandmothers did.
One of the reasons is that there are more estrogens in our environment (for example in the pesticides used on our food) which interfere with our hormones. Many women have spent years on the pill which has introduced more chemicals into their bodies.
On top of that, says Daisy, the current generation of women in their 40s and 50s are wired for stress.
Many are at the peak of their careers, with dependent children and parents or older family members also requiring support. “We wanted it all and it’s set us up for a life of chronic stress and a bad habit of giving everything to everyone else and not thinking about ourselves.”
This is where natural health and the power of food is so important, as we well know at Te Atatu Toasted!
Learning to eat for your stage of life is something Daisy teaches in the programmes she offers.
“You can’t put herbs and supplements into a muddy pond. If someone is dealing with inflammation or chronic stress, nothing is going to work until we address those issues.”
That can be done with changes to your diet.
Once you start eating the food that’s right for you, inflammation goes down and energy goes up, Daisy says. “If a plant is wilting, you give it what it needs to perk it up. Nutrients are what our bodies need.”
The first step when working with Daisy is an assessment appointment where women are taken through a comprehensive questionnaire covering all aspects of their health and monthly cycle, giving a clear indication of where they at.
Then Daisy takes them through the two programmes she offers – currently these are delivered on a one-to-one basis but in the future they will also include online groups with support from other women in the programme.
The three-month Metabolic Balance programme is a personalised nutrition plan that involves comprehensive changes to daily eating.
Blood samples are used for 36 different tests, then a food plan is generated that will address nutritional deficiencies identified by the tests and any diseases the client has, work for her body shape and help her reach her health goals.
“It’s a nutrition plan to balance your metabolic health – not a diet – but most people do lose weight.”
Our metabolism governs how we generate, store and use energy and it affects all aspects of our health including our ability to burn fats and carbs, detoxification functions, digestion, liver and heart health.
Daisy’s second programme, Bloom, is a six-month programme for perimenopause wellness that focuses on changing your diet and lifestyle to live and eat for your age with support from herbs and supplements.
“It uses baby steps that will fit into your life at the pace which you can cope with - it is a gentle approach,” says Daisy.
Daisy is four years through menopause now and says it can be a really transformative period for women. “If I’m honest that’s my real driver for doing this work – being able to witness that transformation in women’s lives.
“It’s not just about mitigating the negative symptoms of menopause; it’s about helping women come into their own at this time of life. Good health is a part of it but it’s much more than just that. It’s growing into being you, knowing who you are.”