While you don’t have to change your entire diet around during menopause, you do need to recognize that some changes may help. A proper diet can decrease some menopausal symptoms, can prevent the weight gain associated with menopause and can reduce the chance of hot flashes.
Guidelines for a Menopause Diet
During menopause and the perimenopausal years, there are some dietary changes you can make that will help improve your quality of life. Some foods can actually decrease your menopausal symptoms.
Let’s take a look at a few good foods to eat during menopause:
- Eat Plenty of Calcium. This means consuming 2-4 servings of dairy products and foods high in calcium every day. You can find calcium in fish that contain bones (that are high in calcium), milk and other dairy products, legumes, and broccoli. During menopause, it is recommended that you take in about 1,200 milligrams per day.
- Increase iron intake. Try to eat at least 3 servings of food that is high in iron. You can find iron in any type of red meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, leafy green vegetables, enriched grains, and nuts. Try to take in about 8 mg per day.
- Get plenty of fruits and vegetables. Take in 1 ½ cup of fruits and 2 cups of vegetables per day.
- Eat lots of fiber. Whole grain breads, fresh whole fruits, vegetables, brown rice, pasta, and whole grain cereals are high in fiber and will improve bowel function.
- Drink a lot of water. Try to get in at least 8 glasses of water per day.
- Decrease fat in the diet. Fat should make up only about 25-35 percent of your daily caloric intake. Eat more unsaturated fats and restrict the saturated fats, which are found in meat and dairy products. Saturated fat should make up no more than 9 percent of all the calories you eat.
- Decrease your salt and sugar intake. If you eat too much salt, you put yourself at risk for hypertension. If you eat too much sugar, you put yourself at risk for diabetes mellitus.
- Decrease foods that are charbroiled, cured in salt, or smoked. This involves foods that are high in nitrates, which creates a cancer risk.
- Keep your alcohol intake to one drink or less per day. Alcohol can contribute to a number of diseases that you don’t want to have in menopause and can make menopausal symptoms worse.
You need to read food labels in order to know what’s in the food you are eating, especially if you eat processed foods that have labels. Look for low sodium, low sugar foods that are high in vitamins and iron.
Because many women gain weight during menopause, you need to try to maintain a weight that is healthy for you. It may mean watching the calories you eat and eating foods that are low in sugar and fat. Try not to skip meals, as this will often lead you to poor food choices when you are famished.
Foods to Help Symptoms of Menopause
Foods that help menopause are those that are high in plant estrogens, also called isoflavones. They mimic estrogen in the body so the menopausal symptoms are less. Some phytoestrogen swill lower levels of cholesterol in the body and may decrease the incidence of night sweats and hot flashes. Soy products, like soymilk, and tofu, are good foods containing phytoestrogens.
Foods to Avoid in Menopause
There are some foods that may make hot flashes worse. These include those things that contain alcohol, caffeinated foods, and spicy foods.