Menopause and Food Choices
Every day we make choices about our food intake as we plan our meals. But many women don’t think of how their food choices affect their menopause journey. Consuming superfoods — nutrient-dense and relatively low in calories but rich in what your body needs most — antioxidants, nutrients, and anti-inflammatory properties, is a wonderful place to start. Having these seven foods to eat during menopause regularly will put you on the path to good health!
These foods listed below help manage menopause symptoms as well as balance blood sugar levels, and improve cholesterol while reducing fat mass and inflammation.
Living with chronic inflammation can eventually start damaging healthy cells and organs creating disease. It’s worth mentioning that changing too many habits at once can be hard. Add one or two of these superfoods to start. For more habit change tips, check out my blog post Three Ways to Make Positive Habit Change in Menopause
Menopause Symptoms & Health Concerns
Inevitably, 6,000 women a day will enter menopause in the United States. There is no way to avoid this stage but you can incorporate superfoods to ease some of the symptoms you will experience. A small percentage of you will breeze through peri-menopause and menopause without many symptoms. However, 80% of women report experiencing negative symptoms.
Since the average age of menopause is 51 and many women experience signs 7 to 10 years earlier (peri-menopause), it’s a good idea to make lifestyle changes that will ease many of the complaints. The main symptoms women report in menopause include weight gain, night sweats, vaginal dryness, hot flashes, mood swings including rage, and difficulty sleeping. A good place to start in managing some of these symptoms and feeling better is to incorporate superfoods into your day.
I was in full menopause at 44 and even as a nurse, had a very difficult time knowing how to feel better. My peri-menopause journey started in my late 30s and along with night sweats, hot flashes, and moodiness, I also gained 20 pounds. I went back to my old ways of eating less and exercising more to lose weight (this also did not improve my mood). Because of changing hormones, this approach no longer worked. After much trial and error, researching all topics around menopause, and working with a wellness coach, I fully understand how the changing female body needs to approach this stage differently for optimal mental and physical well-being.
Superfoods to Consume
Adding many of these foods to your diet will help you feel better and improve your overall health:
- Greens – Three dark green vegetables that are incredibly nutrient-dense and rich in vitamins C, A, E, and K, potassium, calcium and iron are kale, spinach and broccoli. You can add these to soups, smoothies, pasta and many side dishes.
- Berries – Berries are loaded with anthocyanins and antioxidants, which stop free radicals from creating inflammation. They are also rich in vitamins C and K, folate, copper and manganese. Choose any type you like — fresh or frozen without added sugar.
- Yogurt – Yogurt contains active, live cultures of beneficial bacteria to promote gut health, prevent new inflammation. It also contains calcium for bone health. Women going through menopause are at risk for osteoporosis and foods rich in calcium are important to consume. Choose plain yogurts to add to smoothies or eat alone without added sugar — add your own fresh berries and nuts for more health benefits and natural sweetness.
- Fatty Fish – Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish (DHA + EPA) not only suppresses inflammation but also encourages synthesis of anti-inflammatory compounds. Consume salmon, mackerel and anchovies to reduce blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels. These foods are also a good source of protein and consuming fatty fish eases hot flashes in many women.
- Nuts – Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus as well as fat and protein making them an ideal snack. Vitamin E and healthy fats found in almonds can work to combat dry skin and vaginal dryness, common complaints with lowering estrogen levels in menopause. Consuming nuts also promotes blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity. Incorporate almonds and walnuts as a snack on their own or add to salads.
- Legumes – Legumes contain protein, fiber, iron, B vitamins, magnesium, copper and zinc. They are also rich in phytoestrogens, which can support estrogen deficiency and alleviate menopausal symptoms. Incorporate lentils, chickpeas and soybeans into your stews, salads and pasta dishes. Check out this easy chickpea snack in Healthy Living https://www.healthylivingmagazine.us/Articles/11986/
- Flax and chia seeds – Both flax and chia seeds are full of omega-3s, minerals, proteins, fiber and fats. They aide in better digestion, improved blood sugar levels, improve heart health and create protection against certain types of cancer. Add 1 – 2 tablespoons of flax or chia seeds to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, or salads.
Good News for Menopause
We do have some control over how we look, feel, and ultimately how we are aging both inside and outside. It’s about the foods we are ingesting, our sleep patterns, how we deal with stress, and what movement we are incorporating into our day. And yes, peri-menopause, menopause, and post-menopause are coming or already here for many of you.
Don’t look at what you have to remove from the foods you eat each day. Incorporate delicious ingredients you already enjoy while adding in the superfoods I’ve listed. You can eat a variety of foods, even desserts, for a sustainable healthy lifestyle. It’s important to nourish yourself with the foods that will help you feel and look your best. Focus on the above foods that you can incorporate into your day.
A key advantage of adding many of these foods is that they will help balance your blood sugar levels which will improve your mood. An improved mood motivates you to want to keep going with positive but sustainable change. We have one life. Let’s make it the best we can! It took me time to recognize I had to change habits during hormone changes in my 30s and 40s but I feel better today than I ever have!
Check out my programs if you are interested in reaching your health goals with support – Work with Me.
I’m a registered nurse for over 24 years with a Masters Degree in Nursing (Education). I am also a Certified Women’s Health Coach specializing in helping women navigate changing hormones in their 30s and beyond after my own difficult experience through menopause. I believe women should truly thrive in midlife and not just survive!