Couch Conversations: The Politics of Menopause and Nutrition

After our inaugural Couch Conversation with Gloria Steinem and Gayle King focused around the Politics of Menopause, we were fortunate to end the 2021 year with a dialogue between Gloria Steinem and Padma Lakshmi. In this second edition, we discussed the intersection of wellness, visibility, and menopause. Keep reading for a recap of the conversation: 

For years, we’ve heard Padma Lakshmi tell Top Chef contestants to “pack their knives and go,” but alongside her work as television’s arbiter of taste, she’s been diligently working for social justice issues that she cares about. She’s the co-founder of the Endometriosis Foundation of America, a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations, and we at Kindra were honored to have her as the host of our second Couch Conversations at the historic townhouse of fellow women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem. 

The designated topic was The Politics of Menopause and Nutrition, but after our first event, hosted by author and journalist Gayle King, we knew that the organic nature of the Couch Conversations format would take us in unexpected places. The women in attendance ran the gamut including chefs, artists, comedians, dietitians, nutritionists, educators, writers and entrepreneurs, Kindra CEO Catherine Balsam-Schwaber and Gloria Steinem who gathered in the Upper East Side of Manhattan that day included a wide range of professionals who contribute in different and significant ways to their fields and communities. While Padma guided the conversation, everyone who is in attendance is encouraged to share about their own menopausal journey - and everyone had something they wanted to get off their chest. 

The start of the conversation was a liberating airing of grievances. “Aging is great, neglect is bad,” shared someone in the room. A recent study showed that 38% of partners say they feel helpless when it comes to supporting their partner through menopause, with that in mind, we can only imagine how lacking in support the menopausal person feels. We are not alone but it can often feel like we are, many in the room described feeling invisible during menopause. That’s why these conversations matter. 

There was a group consensus that we are in a healthcare crisis surrounding menopause "Menopause is a phase of life that can impact many core parts of a women's wellbeing, not just hot flashes or vaginal dryness, but also can be a factor in mental health, heart health, and more” said Hasti Nazem, Kindra Head of Product and Education. Women feel like they aren’t heard or believed when they try and put words to the very real (about 60% of women experience brain fog during menopause) symptom of brain fog during menopause. And despite feeling let down by the modern medical system at large, an overall lack of support from our culture surrounding menopause, some participants shared a silver lining and expressed a sense of freedom at no longer experiencing regular periods. 

Padma, the moderator of the conversation, set an example by opening up about her own menopause journey. “I don’t mind aging, I just want to age gently,”  said Padma who shared that despite a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, a balanced diet, she is still struggling to feel good in her body during menopause. 

There is no one size fits all approach to treating the less pleasant symptoms of menopause. The group shared different paths and products that have been effective for each individual person. Together, they agreed there is no cookie cutter approach that can be prescribed to every menopausal person. Figuring out what works for you is made all the more complicated by the lack of representation in the media of menopausal women. Without women on film and television discussing their lived experiences, it’s hard for women to even begin to suss out what their options are, what exists out there that can help them. The creatives in the room couldn’t help but think about what that might look like.

This sparked the theme for our next Couch Conversations, which will be focused on how we can change the representation of menopausal women in media. 

Did You Know?

  • 52% of women aren't aware of non-hormonal treatments for signs of menopause

  • 78% of women said that menopause interferes in their lives

  • Only 36% of women feel prepared for menopause

Feeling Inspired? Take Action

Get involved to make a difference, to lend support, to educate, to inspire. Get involved to empower people who experience the hormonal changes of menopause to care for their bodies—naturally, safely, and holistically. Whatever your reason for getting involved with Couch Conversations, you can keep the conversation going. Email to receive an easy, informative guide on how to host a Couch Conversation and inspire change within your own circle.

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