Lynette Sadler: The Midlife Self-Discovery
By Sujany Baleswaran
From the unknown to misconceptions, there’s an urgent need to increase awareness and education for women on menopause and the decades that follow this period. Narrowed down to hot flushes and night sweats, society marks this as the end of menstruation, disregarding the trials and risks that women face during menopause. When battling her own symptoms, Lynette Sadler turned to her background and passion for nutrition. Steering away from the traditional culinary path, Lynette pursued a journey of creating healing recipes and utilising her nutritional knowledge to help women cross this threshold.
Midlife is a great time for self-discovery. Gone are the hang-ups of your youth, you are more self-assured and liberated.
There are numerous ways to incorporate wellness into your life but you chose the path of Natural Chef. What inspired you to follow a culinary path?
My decision to become a natural chef was born out of my struggle to rid myself of symptoms that had plagued me as I transitioned from perimenopause into menopause without medication. Having battled many issues, that I later learnt were triggered by my diet, I was determined to make lifestyle changes. I started my journey into nutrition and eating for health by embarking on a course on the healing properties of food on the Natural Chef course at The College of Naturopathic Medicine in London and qualified in 2012. However, I knew partway through the course that I did not want to be a traditional chef, instead, I wanted to use my knowledge to help women who were transitioning into menopause, teaching them how to create therapeutic meals that would help them cope with the change, both physiologically and psychologically. I enjoyed creating healing recipes and observing amazing health benefits in myself and my clients, who were beset with debilitating menopausal symptoms when they joined me. In a short time, they were feeling radiant and energised.
Prior to embarking on the Natural Chef course, I had studied alternative therapies and had read historical research about healing and the ability to rebalance health and wellbeing by Pharmacist Antoine Bechamp (1816 – 1908) and later research by Robert Young PhD, D.SC Microbiology and Nutrition. Their findings resonated and inspired me to build on the knowledge I had learnt from the Natural Chef course. I concluded that healthy eating does not have to be boring. By adding specific herbs and spices you can transform a bland dish into a tantalising healing meal. That’s a win-win in my book.
Your book Change is Coming explores various healthy recipes – can you share your favourite recipe with us?
This is a difficult one to choose – I love mushroom risotto. It’s a super healthy and tasty meal with added tofu to help with hormone health. I make this at least once a month.
From Natural Chef to Midlife Coach, what led to this transition?
Having come to terms with being in menopause, I was having success in managing my physical symptoms. However, on an emotional level, I felt a deep-seated emptiness inside, a yearning for more out of life. I had experienced setbacks and disappointments in recent years that had zapped my zest for life. I wanted my spark back. My va va voom.
I went on a spiritual journey, spending long periods in introspection. Questioning all aspects of my life. I was going through a change on a physical and psychological level. My children had left home and were starting their families. I was an empty nester and felt vulnerable as my identity as a full-time mother had now changed. I was standing on the shifting ground of midlife which was forcing me into a period of transformation I felt ill-prepared for. I attended many seminars on personal development, and some strategies I learnt were helpful for a time, but there was still a yearning for more. I would make progress but then sabotage my progress because of insecurities and self-limiting beliefs.
It wasn’t until I attended a seminar in 2016 on living a more intentional life and connecting to my inner guiding spirit did my life begin to turn around. It took me on a journey of self-discovery. I learnt about the importance of having a purpose and how to live in a visioning state to manifest what I desired for this phase of my life. And that was what I needed. I had followed the script society advocated, going to college, and university, having a career, a home and raising a family. I felt like a success for a while. However, I came to the awareness that I was living a life scripted for me by society and not following my own path. I had dedicated my life to the needs of others, saying “yes” to them and “no” to me. I had buried my passions and desires to fit into a mould dictated by society.
I noticed that many of my clients who were women in midlife going through a similar turmoil and were disillusioned about life. This led to the shift in my coaching practice towards helping women discover how limitless they are and connecting them to their inner guiding spirit, which helped to discover their vision and purpose for this midlife transition and how to rid themselves of internal blocks to their growth. This was a major turnaround in the lives of women I coached as they ignite their passion to create radiance and vitality in their lives. Menopause support is still an essential feature of my coaching practice, as all women go through menopause in varying degrees.
Menopause is often clouded with uncertainty – every woman’s experience is different. Why is investing in your health vital?
As we age, we are susceptible to age-related disease, and menopause can be a contributing factor. Your body is changing and will require more or less of particular foods, which summons you to make changes to your diet. Now in midlife, body parts that were flexible may begin to stiffen, and your skin may wrinkle and sag. Weight gain, brain fog and hypertension are just a few worrying symptoms caused by fluctuating hormones brought on by menopause. Taking care of your health, as it is today, is so important if you don’t want the menopause to rob you of your health and vivacity.
What is a big misconception about menopause that you hope to change?
There is no remedy for menopause – Whilst HRT has been a godsend for many women, I chose the path of alternative remedies. These have been instrumental in ridding me of bothersome symptoms during this transition. For example, I was relieved to find that by eating foods rich in isoflavone I was able to eliminate hot flushes and night sweats. Simple lifestyle changes can help reduce so many symptoms, and we need to start making these changes in our 30’s when our hormones are starting to change.
Helping women through their midlife struggles, women empowerment is at the forefront of your mission. Why is it so important to empower these women, especially during this period of their life?
Midlife gets a bad rap. Have you heard of the invisible women syndrome? Society’s attempt to relegate midlife women to second class citizens has resulted in midlife women being overlooked by the media, overlooked for promotion and rarely seen in retail ads, whilst midlife men are admired and celebrated. We have some women in positions of power, and we may see women on social media living ‘the dream’, but this isn’t the norm. I view midlife as a great time for self-discovery. Gone are the hang-ups of your youth, you are more self-assured and liberated. I want to let women know how limitless they are and that they can create a unique path in midlife.
What advice would you give to women struggling with menopause?
I would advise women to do a lifestyle audit. Are there habits they need to let go of or new ones they need to adopt. Doing a food diary to identify foods that trigger specific symptoms is important, particularly if symptoms are interfering with everyday living. Secondly, speak to a trusted friend or relative, we all have valuable information that we can share. Thirdly, consider using natural products as unnatural ones can affect the endocrine system, worsening symptoms. There is so much that you can do to help yourself through menopause. If you need support, contact a coach who specialises in menopause.