Women’s hormones are constantly changing with age. These hormonal changes eventually lead to the life phase in which women reacclimate with their bodies in a different way: Menopause. These changes have the potential to affect our weight, mood and blood sugar.
The good news is that mindful food choices can help manage many of these changes and ease symptoms. We can view menopause as a time to put ourselves first and take care of ourselves and our bodies.
What is menopause?
Menopause is the time that marks the end of menstrual cycles. Menopause is diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a period. Most women experience these changes at or around 50 years old. At this point, our ovaries start to produce decreasing amounts of the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Decreased estrogen in the body can cause several changes, including:
- Increase in central fat storage in our body.
- Being hungrier and eating more. For some women, this can affect their weight.
- An increase in insulin resistance, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels.
- Increased bone loss.
- The natural loss of lean muscle tissue because of aging.
- An increase in the risk of diabetes, heart disease and other chronic conditions.
7 ways nutrition can ease menopause symptoms
Some of the most common menopausal symptoms are hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, night sweats and sleep problems. Eating the right kinds of food during menopause can help ease these symptoms, prevent bone density loss, preserve lean muscle tissue and stabilize our mood and weight.
1. Include high-quality protein sources
Protein is important for maintaining lean muscle tissue. Soy-based foods like tofu and edamame also contain isoflavones that may help manage menopause symptoms.1,2
2. Increase calcium consumption
Go for calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, fish, fortified cereals and dairy products to help with bone density loss. Some women may benefit from taking a calcium supplement.
3. Eat more fruit, vegetables and fiber
Foods like beans, blueberries, raspberries, dark greens, potatoes and artichokes contain antioxidants, which are important in supporting hormone health.
4. Limit caffeine, spicy foods and alcohol
Limiting these can help to decrease hot flashes. If you have trouble sleeping, drinking less alcohol and caffeine can be helpful.
5. Focus on fats
Increase your healthy fats and watch out for unhealthy fats. Fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and certain oils (such as olive oil) contain omega-3 fatty acids that can be helpful with mood swings. Limit saturated fats, found in meat, baked goods and fried foods, and avoid trans fats (mainly found in processed foods with the words “partially hydrogenated oils” on the ingredients list).
Aim for 8 to 10 glasses of water per day. Staying hydrated can ease hot flashes and night sweats.
7. Limit sodium
Try to be aware of the amount of sodium you’re consuming. Less estrogen means that your body may be more sensitive to salt. Keep sodium intake in check by eating whole foods instead of processed foods. Use salt-free seasonings, herbs and spices, and citrus to flavor food.
Dieting during this time is not the answer. Our bodies need fuel to power through these changes.
Menopause is a normal, healthy part of ever-evolving womanhood. Eating a balanced diet with an emphasis on these nutritional changes is one way to appreciate this change in our bodies and focus on ourselves and our health. Dieting during this time is not the answer. Our bodies need fuel to power through these changes. Menopause is an important time to prioritize yourself and your body. Pay attention to what your body needs. Remember, it is natural, and it is just another phase of life.
If you are looking for nutritional help for menopause or any other reason, reach out to a registered dietitian at Teladoc.
Check out all the ways you can benefit from working with a Teladoc dietitian.
We’ve partnered with Daily Harvest to provide expert advice to help people stay on top of their eating habits. They make it easy with plant-forward menu options to help you get through the week without the hassle.
Updated March 2, 2022