Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian: The menopausal journey brings a range of physical and emotional challenges for women, from night sweats and mood swings to weight gain and slowed metabolism. Following the menopause diet, apart from undergoing menopausal therapy, is a good way to gain relief from these symptoms.
The menopause diet focuses on the power of wholesome, nutrient-rich food to address the concerns of women going through this phase. In this article, we have listed foods to eat, foods to avoid, and a sample diet plan. Read on!
Principle: Focuses on the intake of balanced, nutrient-dense food.
Purpose: To improve overall well-being and alleviate the symptoms of menopause.
Who it is For: Individuals going through menopause.
Who Should Avoid: People with (a history of) eating disorders or who are allergic to nuts, dairy, or soy.
Cons: May lead to disordered eating.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian: What Is The Menopause Diet?
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, The menopause diet is designed to address the physical and hormonal changes and symptoms women experience during menopause. This diet emphasizes the need for balanced nutrition with a focus on foods like dairy and soy products that are rich in protein and healthy fats.
These foods are high in fiber and plant-based compounds that may alleviate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings and aid weight loss. This diet also limits the intake of processed foods, refined sugars, caffeine, and alcohol to minimize the potential triggers for these symptoms.
TIP: You Know?
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, The menopausal transition often begins between ages 45 and 55, and the symptoms of menopause usually last between 4 and 8 years.
Consuming nutrient-rich food may help gain relief from menopausal symptoms. Scroll down to check out the list of foods to include in this diet.
Foods to Eat During Menopause
1. Dietary Protein
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, The natural decline of estrogen levels during menopause is linked with a decrease in bone mass. Proteins play a key role in maintaining muscle tissue and help mitigate muscle loss. According to the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis and Osteoarthritis (ESCEO), the ideal protein intake for menopausal women is 1.0-1.2g/kg body weight/day, with at least 20-25 g of high-quality protein with each main meal, to prevent age-related musculoskeletal problems.
During this stage, women are at a higher risk of osteoporosis, and consuming enough milk and meat that is high in protein may help support bone health. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can include soy foods, legumes, and plant-based meat as substitutes. Some women may experience changes in body composition during this period, and the intake of adequate protein can aid in weight management by increasing satiety (feeling of fullness).
2. Healthy Fats
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Including healthy fats in the diet offers essential nutrients and helps manage certain menopausal symptoms. Omega-3 fats are one such healthy fat that help women during menopause. These fats are commonly found in fish, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and walnuts, and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce joint inflammation, which may be a common symptom during this stage. Opt for baking and steaming over frying to cook fish to retain its nutrients.
A study conducted by the Oklahoma State University (USA) found that regular consumption of approximately 30 g of flaxseed – which is rich in omega-3 fats, fiber, and lignansi – lowers cholesterol levels and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Additionally, these fats may help relieve hot flashes and symptoms of depressive cognitive disorders in menopausal women, though more research is warranted in this regard.
3. Dairy Products
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Dairy products are rich in nutrients that help support bone health. They contain protein, calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin D that improve bone and help reduce the risk of fractures, especially hip fracture.
Women over 50 are more susceptible to bone mineral loss and are recommended to consume 1200 mg of calcium per day. Dairy products like milk and yogurt are good sources of protein and calcium, which are essential for muscle health at this stage. Consumption of 1 cup of milk per day provides 100 mg of calcium.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Sleep disorders are commonly reported problems in those going through menopause, and consuming dairy products rich in amino acids like tryptophan and glycine may improve sleep quality. They may also aid weight management when consumed in moderation. However, avoid consuming full-fat dairy products and flavored yogurt with added sugars as they may lead to weight gain.
According to a study published in The British Journal of Nutrition, postmenopausal women who were supplemented with fortified dairy foods experienced a substantial improvement in their total body bone mineral density (BMD) at 12 and 20 months compared to the control group.
4. Soy Products
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Soy foods, such as edamame, tofu, and soy milk, are rich in high-quality protein. They contain plant-based compounds such as phytoestrogens that help reduce the risk of menopausal symptoms, hormone-dependent cancers, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular diseases.
Research shows that herbal supplements containing soy isoflavones may help reduce the frequency of hot flashes. Soy isoflavones also help improve bone health by mobilizing the calcium uptake process.
5. Fruits and Vegetables
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, The intake of a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables is essential to improve and maintain your overall health, especially during menopause. They are good sources of antioxidants, phytochemicalsi, nutrients, anti-inflammatory agents, and phytoestrogens that aid disease prevention. Phytoestrogens are plant compounds found in several fruits and vegetables that may help alleviate menopausal symptoms like hot flashes and insomnia.
Fruits and vegetables are also good sources of dietary fiber that aid in weight management and ease constipation. In general, eating whole fruits is considered better than drinking fruit juices because the latter are typically low in fiber.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, A study also found that cruciferous vegetable consumption may decrease the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
6. Whole Grains
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Whole grains are rich in essential nutrients, and including them in your diet may help address some menopausal symptoms. A diet rich in whole grains also offers protection from cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases and aids weight loss due to the dietary fiber, antioxidant, and phenolic compoundi content. Whole grains such as brown rice and oats are rich in carbs that provide sustained energy, helping you feel fuller for longer, and its intake is also linked with weight management.
These are important food groups to include in your diet. Scroll down to know what food groups you need to avoid during this phase.
Foods to Avoid During Menopause
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Highly processed food contains unhealthy fats that can lead to weight gain and insulin resistance because they are often calorie-dense. Research shows that insulin resistance is linked with menopausal hot flashes and night sweats. The high intake of added sugars can also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type-2 diabetes.
1. Caffeine and Alcohol
The effects of caffeine consumption on menopausal symptoms can differ from person to person. Drinking coffee may worsen menopausal symptoms due to the chlorogenic acids present in it. Caffeine may also interfere with the sleep cycle and cause sleep disturbances, which are commonly experienced during menopause. Also, high alcohol intake increases the severity and frequency of hot flashes.
2. Spicy and Salty Foods
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Regular intake of spicy food may lead to an increase in body temperature and the frequency of hot flashes in menopausal women. Additionally, high sodium intake is negatively associated with bone mineral density and may cause osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
The menopause diet helps in weight management. But how should you follow this diet to lose weight? Scroll down to know more.
How to Follow the Menopause Diet for Weight Loss
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, A menopause diet for weight loss mainly focuses on improving bone health and maintaining a healthy weight. Here is a guide on how to follow this diet to lose weight:
Plan a balanced diet that is rich in healthy fats, fiber, carbs, and protein to maintain a healthy weight and improve your overall health.
Pay attention to portion sizes to avoid overeating and to reach your goal weight during menopause.
Add adequate high-quality protein to your diet to support muscle function and mass, which may deteriorate with age. Protein can also help you stay full and prevent overeating.
Drink enough water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration. Staying hydrated plays a key role in managing your appetite and preventing excess eating.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Minimize the intake of processed foods and refined sugars. These can cause an increase in blood sugar levels and lead to weight gain.
Practice mindful eating and avoid distractions like watching TV or using your phone while eating. This will improve your relationship with food, and you end up eating less.
Lastly, staying active and working out regularly can help you lose weight and improve your overall health.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, Getting high-quality sleep and managing stress may help reduce the symptoms associated with menopause.
Note: As menopause experiences vary from person to person, it is important to consult your healthcare professional before making any changes to your diet.
Scroll down to check out a sample menopause diet plan to get started on your weight-loss journey.
Sample Menopause Diet Plan to Lose Weight
A small bowl of mixed berries
1 slice of whole-grain toast
1 bowl of quinoa and black bean salad
1 small whole-grain roll
1 bowl of lentil soup
¼ cup of almonds
1 sliced cucumber with light cream cheese
1 cup of roasted Brussels sprouts
1 cup of cauliflower rice
4 oz of grilled chicken breast
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, The menopause diet is a well-balanced plan designed to manage menopausal symptoms. It includes foods rich in healthy fats, protein, and dietary fiber that help relieve hot flashes, prevent osteoporosis, improve sleep quality, and aid weight loss.
Nutrition For Menopause Dietitian, In addition, practicing portion control, including adequate calcium, staying hydrated, practicing mindful eating, and limiting the intake of processed foods, alcohol, and caffeine helps manage these symptoms. However, these symptoms vary from person to person. Hence, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for proper guidance before making any changes to your diet.