Have you suddenly become aware of gradual weight-gain that feels like it isn't going to stop? A lack of energy and motivation? Low libido? Erratic or heavy periods? Mood changes, hot flushes and sleep problems? Have you noticed hair loss? Faced with all these symptoms can be overwhelming for many women particularly if you don't have a clue what is happening to you. Well, it is quite common because these can be the symptoms of being perimenopausal and typically they start at around the age of 40, although sometimes late 30's.

Some women may experience depression, insomnia or anxiety some while before the onset of perimenopause, but by paying attention to your diet and ensuring that it is nutrient-dense as well as balancing your hormones with the correct dosages of good quality supplements, can make all the difference. Balancing your hormones is vitally important so that you do not become high or low in either oestrogen or progesterone. Throughout perimenopause, there can be a huge change in your hormone production as the cycles become more unreliable and anovulatory (without ovulation). This could make you feel as though you have permanent premenstrual tension and affect your functionality, but this can be addressed with if you go about it correctly.

Progesterone (which help keep oestrogen in balance), can be constantly low at the Perimenopause which can be termed as a progesterone deficiency. The symptoms of low progesterone can be much heavier periods lasting longer than usual. This can be coupled with uncomfortable and swollen breasts as well as weight-gain. There can be increased irritability and mood swings which can be higher oestrogen to progesterone balance.

As you near the menopause, your periods can change by becoming more erratic and you may experience vaginal dryness and hot flushes because oestrogen is gradually decreasing. It is at this time that you must take care to balance your blood sugar levels and avoid becoming adrenally exhausted through stress. Our adrenal glands are important because they supply oestrogen and progesterone to keep hormonal balance. You are far more likely to acquire 'belly fat' as it is known, if your adrenals do not supply an adequate amount of oestrogen.

To avoid menopausal symptoms and going on to HRT I would advise keeping off the foods you know you are allergic to, ensuring the correct dosage of zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids. I had already avoided the foods I knew were wrong for me for quite a number of years, so that bit was easy. I then made sure I always took the correct supplements, particularly zinc, magnesium and fish oils. My menopause lasted eight years without a single symptom. I remember being late for two appointments which brought on a 2-3 minute warm feeling whilst driving and that was it.

Look to eat healthily to boost your nutrients including foods that contain good healthy fats such as avocados, organic virgin coconut oil, fish oils and oily fish. Fibre from fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, oats. Phytoestrogens from oats, fruit, vegetables, sage, seeds, garlic and fennel, and of course lean protein from meat, fish, nuts and seeds. Look to avoid canned, fizzy drinks, cheap refined oils, caffeine and too much alcohol and make sure to stabilise your blood sugar levels and exercise regularly. I cannot stress enough the importance of taking the appropriate vitamin/mineral supplements and fish oils that are high quality, and remember the menopause is not an illness or disease but a process that we go through. If you prepare well beforehand you could sail through the menopause as I did.

Thank you so much for your work with my son. He was 4 when I brought him to you and had recently been doing longer days at Nursery. He had seemed run down, darker under the eyes and colds were harder to shift. His whole back and the back of his knees were covered in extremely dry skin, it was like sandpaper. He also had impetigo developing around the corner of one side his mouth. We had tried antibiotics to my regret, as they only seemed to make matters worse. Then we came to you. Within 2 days…

Mrs S R - Surrey

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for helping me come off anti-depressants and for treating my depression in a natural way. Thanks to your precise diagnosisrecommendations, I feel back to my old self! The depression lifting is the most obvious positive outcome from your advice. However, I have also experienced an increase to my energy levels, a boost to my digestive system, relief from itchy skin and no more mouth ulcers! Family and friends have also commented on how healthy I look. So thank you very much for helping me get back on…

Mrs J S - Surrey

For several years I have suffered from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (Lupus) and for the last three years I have been under the care of a consultant rheumatologist. I am delighted to tell you that after six months of following your advice, my consultant rheumatologist has just said that I have no need to visit her again as my latest set of blood tests have proved that the diet is controlling the Lupus and I am now symptom-free. I am very pleased with the result and grateful for all your help!

Ms J P - Surrey

After 18 months of sleepless nights and tears and fights at mealtimes and little help from the doctors, we turned to Ann. She allergy tested our daughter and found that she was intolerant to dairy and soya and also deficient in Zinc. We followed Ann's advice and within 3 nights our daughter was sleeping through, her appetite has improved considerably and we now have a much healthier, happier little girl.

Ms C H - Surrey

I suddenly had loads of energy, no diarrhoea and I lost a stone in weight. I feel better now than I've felt in years. I have a full time job as a teacher and live a normal, busy, active life - all of which is down to my change of diet and ultimately to Ann Shaw. Thank you!

Ms S G - London

Thank you so much for what you have done for me. Goodness knows what I'd be like now if I hadn't come to see you. The weight is still coming off, slowly but surely, and my strength and willpower amaze me!

Ms A B - Shropshire

I am writing to let you know of my miraculous improvement! On the 30th December I developed a cold/healing crisis which I managed to overcome without any chest infection, antibiotics or steroids. I feared the worst when the cold started as my chest had been full of mucus for eight months and I just dreaded to think what I would be like. It cleared and it was better than it had been since last March! I have been able to cut down the Ventolin and hope to cut it out completely…

Mrs J C - Yorkshire

I feel much better without the dairy products. All the pain in my legs disappeared after just a couple of days. I'm very glad I met you - it has helped me (and my boyfriend), more than we ever thought.

Ms N A - Surrey

I really had several problems when I first saw you, ranging from lethargy to most upsetting skin erruptions. Having followed the detoxification programme these problems were resolved and, as a bonus, I lost a stone in weight! Not bad for someone over sixty.

Mrs J P - Surrey

I had to write to tell you I am feeling wonderful - "the works". Just want to say a big thank you. (This patient suffered Irritable Bowel Syndrome).

Mrs S D - Surrey

I had visited several doctors with many symptoms, before I stumbled across your leaflet. I had been offered anti-depressants and counselling and I was really starting to believe it was all in my head. I dread to think where I would have been now, if I hadn't made that first appointment with you. Only a few months ago I was sick, depressed and confused. It was obvious to you that I had a problem with candida, yet so many doctors before had failed to see it. A simple diet with vitamin and mineral supplements was all I needed for…

Ms A A - Wimbledon (via Bali)

My problem was constipation. I am 27 years old and have had the disorder for at least 10 years. I was overweight, felt tired all the time, listless, unmotivated, my skin was in poor condition and mentally I was drained. Doctors kept prescribing 'Fybogel' to relieve my symptoms and told me I would have to take it for life.... Over three months later I have no more problems going to the toilet, have lost over one stone in weight and maintained it. I feel a new person. I have started circuit training, running and weight training and still have…

Ms L L - Ashford

My daughter and I visited you in sheer desperation as she had had M.E. for two and a half years. She was so tired and depressed I wanted to try one more thing. After visiting you we excluded many things including wheat. Two days later she started to improve. One month later she was so well we agreed to let her go back-packing to Australia. She is back now, well and happy. On the odd occasion she eats wheat she becomes tired and lethargic until the wheat leaves her system. In September she will be able to take up…

Mrs J L - Surrey

As a teenager I had continuous problems with Anorexia and so to a certain extent, food and my stomach have always been the centre of my world. My symptoms included regular diarrhoea and abdominal pains (Irritable bowel Syndrome), faintness, acute thirst, fatigue and lack of energy, all of which eventually resulted in depression and a series of panic attacks. When I first met Ann Shaw, I had dark circles under my eyes, pale skin (which had a hint of green!) and absolutely no energy. She immediately tested me for various food intolerances and we discovered that dairy products, wheat…

Ms S G - London

Thank you so much for helping me clear up my long term acne problem. The de-toxing diet that you put me on worked so well. After the first week I decided to be brave and come off the antibiotics that I have been taking for some four years, and to my great pleasure, my skin looked better than ever. This is the first time for about fourteen years that I have not treated my face with some form of tablet or cream. I am so happy! Thanks once again for your help…

Ms A H - Middlesex