Is there a specific diet you should follow during menopause? The short answer – YES! If this is a sufficient enough answer for you then hey, by all means skip ahead and click here to read about bistroMD’s menopause programs. For those of you who need more to sink your teeth into, read on.
For some women the idea of not having their menstrual cycles for a full 12 months during menopause may sound like a welcomed grace period from cramps, bleeding, and a host of other period pains. But menopause comes with its own, shall we say, nuanced experiences.
Most women notice that they suddenly feel different inside their own bodies during this year as well as in the time leading up to it, which is known as perimenopause, and for several years following the official end of menopause.
Women often have physical symptoms, such as insomnia, weight gain, decreased libido and hot flashes. Mental and emotional symptoms, such as mood changes, anxiety and depression, are also common.
Because food is such a powerful substance, it is vital that women going through menopause focus on what they are putting into their mouths more than ever.
Thankfully, making smart food and drink choices can help relieve uncomfortable symptoms for many menopausal women.
What Diet Should Menopausal Women Follow?
Whole foods are the wisest choices for women going through major hormonal changes.
Unrefined foods are full of important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, that help to balance raging hormones while building up the tissues in the body that are often depleted during menopause. On the other hand, processed foods are often made with many fillers that leave women feeling depleted and that help underscore mood changes.
For example, dairy products are particularly important in replacing lost calcium, potassium and vitamin D in the body.
A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved that postmenopausal women who consumed more dairy had improved bone density as compared to those who did not increase their dairy consumption. This is good news for women more at risk of osteoporosis following menopause. In addition, increased dairy may improve sleep quality and decrease the risk of early menopause.
Menopause also significantly increases a woman’s risk for heart disease. A diet rich in whole grains, such as those found in brown rice, barley, whole wheat and quinoa, decreases one’s risk of cardiovascular disease while also improving the functioning of the gastrointestinal system.
Whole grains are usually quite high in folic acid and fiber, which are two important keys to decreasing heart disease. Plus, the high levels of B vitamins in these grains can significantly improve daily energy levels.
Two other key food groups that are high in fiber are fruits and vegetables.
The bright colors found in most fruits and vegetables indicate that these foods are packed full of vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants that decrease cellular aging and reduce the risk of cellular changes that could lead to cancer.
One study of over 17,000 women in menopause showed that increasing fruit and vegetable consumption could not only help women decrease their weight but also could decrease the number of hot flashes they experienced.
The best diets for menopause also include phytoestrogen-containing foods. The weak estrogen in these foods may help menopausal women offset the decreased estrogen supplies that occur during this period.
Many women have found that these weak estrogen help decrease common symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes. Some examples of foods containing phytoestrogens include soy, flax seeds, grapes, dark berries and black tea.
Finally, while a high-fat diet is not smart because of the increased risk of weight gain after menopause, some fats are vital to daily body functioning and especially protect the brain and nerves from damage.
In particular, women should focus on adding healthy fats that contain omega-3 fatty acids to their daily diets. Although not all menopausal women notice significant changes after consuming these fats, some have noticed that they decrease hot flashes and night sweats.
Whether or not such foods as flax seeds, chia seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon, help with menopause symptoms, they are still good options for heart health.
What Foods Should Menopausal Women Avoid?
Of course, practically no woman is going to be able to fill her plate with the healthiest foods consistently.
Restaurant meals, parties and snacks may be difficult to avoid at times. Therefore, it is also wise for menopausal and postmenopausal women to know which foods are particularly bad for their symptoms so that they can avoid them and opt for healthier alternatives whenever possible.
These foods have been proven to increase both physical and mental symptoms of hormonal changes, to decrease heart and bone health and to leave individuals feeling tired, moody and depleted.
First, added sugars are particularly bad. Not only do they have no health benefits, but also they are particularly known for aiding in the weight gain that is a typical part of the menopause season.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most Americans eat 300 calories of added sugars every day with many of them hiding in juices, flavored waters and other seemingly healthy items.
Second, processed carbohydrates serve much the same function as added sugars, leading to weight gain without nourishing the body. Processed carbohydrates also turn to simple sugars quickly and may lead to increased hot flashes and uncomfortable and dangerous blood sugar spikes.
Other foods and drinks that can be particularly detrimental to a menopause diet include the following:
Menopause marks a time of strong transitions for women. As many hormones decrease in the body, women experience new physical symptoms and unexpected mental changes. By focusing on a smart diet and by avoiding certain foods known to weaken or harm the body, women can feel their very best during these years of change.
Are There Meal Delivery Services That Address Menopause?
Many of the meal delivery services we review certainly speak to a plethora diets. So for instance, now that you know that kicking up your fruit and vegetable intake, along with consuming whole grains, will improve energy levels, you may want to look into vegetarian meal delivery services that’ll offer these on their menus.
However there is only one brand that straight up delivers menus as a part of a menopause diet program and that’s bistroMD and its sister companies Balance and Silver.
All three services understand the hormonal changes that occurs in one’s bodies during menopause and that a particular diet will lend itself to better health during this transitional period.
We find these extremely helpful particularly in a stage in life where one may be experiencing a lot of different physical and emotional changes, the last thing you want to deal with is menu planning to help manage said changes.
Services like those offered by the bistroMD take the head work out of this so you can eat knowing you’re helping yourself in this new phase and that your diet was designed by a team of dietitians who actually understand and acknowledge the dietary nuances of menopause.