My Digestive Issues Led to a New Business Idea - Stella
Her story

Digestive issues during menopause led me to a new business

byMeera Bhogal

I’ve always been into fitness and good nutrition, but I first started to focus on my health after a traumatic divorce left my health shattered. I became really unwell with debilitating migraines and painful bloating. I kept my head down to run my nursery business and look after my kids, but I was barely surviving. Medication was making me feel worse and something had to change.

After finding out I was intolerant to gluten and dairy, I concentrated on creating a healthy, balanced meal plan. I began experimenting with food to take care of my allergies and I finally recovered. As I developed the recipes for myself, I began to develop my new business, Meera’s Made From Scratch. Now I offer exercise classes, workshops and a range of herbal teas, fermented foods, broth, snacks, sauces, treats, soups and activated nuts and seeds. 

Close encounters of the menopause kind

I believe that stress and trauma may affect when your menopause comes on. At around age 40, I noticed my hair was drastically thinning. When I went to my hairdresser, they confirmed I was losing my hair and I went to a trichologist. 

Fast forward a couple of years later and I burst into tears in the yoga studio after confessing to being in so much pain that I struggled to get out of bed, couldn’t touch my toes and my joints ached so much. I was sweating and couldn’t sleep as I was changing sheets each night and I kept forgetting things. 

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My yoga teacher said: “Do you feel like aliens have taken over your body?” It was just like that! I didn’t recognise who I was anymore and it was really frightening. I felt like I was watching someone else. After all, I had been a runner who did half marathons and ate well. I couldn’t work out what was wrong with me. That’s when my yoga teacher said I could be going through menopause.

I was confused as I still had my periods and I thought they had to stop before you got symptoms.”

Too young for menopause

I went to see the nurse and she told me I was too young for menopause. I went back to the doctor’s a couple more times and was given anti-depressants, but I didn’t take them. I felt there was something else that could help. I wanted to try more natural ways first.

It felt so lonely at the time going through all this. I talked to my mum about menopause and she said she didn’t have symptoms: “I just woke up one morning and it was all gone.” She told me I thought about things too much and I got the feeling that I was just meant to get on with it. My social circle was talking about menopause but they were older than me and I was the only South Asian woman. When I raised what I was experiencing, they felt 42 was too young for menopause.

Back to natural basics

I remarried and my husband was a wonderful friend and great to talk to. He was a pharmacist and helped me explore what to try. I am lucky. After all, if you can’t talk to your partner about your menopause, what can you do?

My yoga teacher said to go back to what you eat and see which foods help naturally. I went deep into the research and learned about perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. Of course, that’s when I realised the doctors were right when I had turned up at the practice saying I was going through menopause. I wasn’t. I was in perimenopause!

I began to understand that my immune and digestive systems weren’t working as well as they once did. I stripped back my nutrition and experimented to see what improved my symptoms.”

I don’t know how I found the strength to do it but I did as there was no other help out there. I used my Indian herbs to try new things and made a turmeric mixture to help my joint pain and inflammation. I reduced fruit sugar and changed how I was exercising. 

I came to realise that running had to stop as my hip and knees were hurting and I was losing weight. I felt I was running just to keep up with everyone. Instead, I concentrated on meditation, yoga and strength training to look after my muscle mass. I have a great personal trainer who worked with me to figure it out. Now I am feeling better, stronger and ready to keep on growing my new business.

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