When you reach menopause, you can expect your body to change in many ways. This can lead to symptoms such as fatigue and mood swings. Improving your diet can help manage your symptoms and cut back on your risk for age-related health issues. Go for a balanced diet made up of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats. Eat foods rich in nutrients like calcium to manage symptoms of menopause. Avoid unhealthy foods, like foods high in fat and sugar, to stay healthy as you age.
EditGetting A Balanced Diet
- Opt for healthy starches. Starch should be the basis of your diet when you enter menopause. The kinds of starches you choose matter. Opt for starches from natural sources, such as potatoes, to keep your body strong during menopause.
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes can be an excellent source of starch when prepared in a healthy manner. Make sure to leave the skin on potatoes and try baking or steaming them instead of frying them.
- You should also opt for whole grain and whole wheat sources of starch. Go for brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat breads.
- Make sure starch is a staple of your diet, but make sure you are also practicing portion control (remember about 1/2 cup is equal to one serving of starches like pasta and rice). Roughly one third of your total intake should come from starch.
- Make sure to get five servings of fruit and vegetables per day. Fruits and vegetables are important throughout your life but become increasingly vital as you age. In order to stay healthy during menopause, opt for at least five servings of healthy fruits and vegetables each day.
- You can snack on fruit to get your servings in. Just one small apple, 1/2 banana, or a large peach counts as one serving.
- Try to add veggies to every meal. Go for a side salad at lunch instead of a side of french fries, for example. Make steamed veggies to eat with dinner at night.
- Add fruits to your breakfast. Slice up a banana and eat it with your cereal. Add berries to yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.
- Opt for healthy sources of protein. You need more protein as you age, so go for healthy sources of protein so you can eat more without consuming too many calories. Lean meats, dairy products, fish, and eggs should be a regular part of your diet.
- You should have at least two servings of fish each week. You should go for fresh fish over canned or smoked fish, as these can be high in salt.
- If you eat meats besides fish, go for leaner types. Opt for skinless poultry as a source of meat in your diet.
- If you’re vegetarian, eggs can be a great source of protein. Beans, nuts, and seeds can also be healthy meat alternatives.
- Get fat from the right sources. When trying to make dietary changes, many people cut out fat; however, fat is actually necessary to a healthy diet. You need some fat to thrive, so go for healthy sources such as the fat found in heart-healthy oils like olive oil and canola oil, and fats found in fruits like avocados. Stay away for fruits high in saturated or trans fats.
EditChoosing Foods to Improve Symptoms
- Go for soy products to help with hormonal issues. Soy products may help balance hormone levels during menopause. If you’re experiencing things like mood swings, try upping your soy intake.
- Try to swap meat for tofu a few times a week.
- Swap your regular milk with soy milk for things like coffee and cereal.
- Try breads and baked goods made with soy flour.
- Get zinc and iron for your immune system. Zinc and iron can help boost immune health during menopause. This can prevent you from easily becoming sick. Try to eat foods rich in zinc and iron during menopause.
- Many meats include zinc, such as shellfish, corned beef, and liver. Non-meat options include pumpkin seeds, nuts, whole grains, and seeds.
- For iron, go for things like beef, pork, lamb, and seafood. You can also get iron from leafy green vegetables like spinach, mustard greens, kale, parsley, and cabbage.
- Choose mood-boosting foods. Mood swings can be an issue during menopause. Luckily, there are plenty of foods that can boost mood. The amino acid tryptophan can help elevate mood.
- Cottage cheese has plenty of tryptophan and is fairly healthy. Try having cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast if you’re feeling low. It’s also found in oats, so try starting the day with a bowl of oatmeal.
- Tryptophan is found in turkey, so try having a turkey sandwich for lunch if you’re feeling low.
- In addition to eating foods rich in tryptophan, make sure not to skip breakfast or miss meals. This can have an effect on your health, metabolism, and mood.
- Get calcium to boost bone health. Bones may become weaker during menopause. Upping your calcium intake can help counteract this. Make sure to get calcium from plenty of healthy sources to improve your health during menopause.
- Go for milk and other dairy products, such as yogurt, which also contain protein.
- Choose low-fat or fat-free dairy, such as skim milk. This will allow you to get plenty of calcium without adding too much extra fat to your diet.
EditAvoiding Certain Foods
- Avoid fast food and junk food. Fast foods and junk foods are high in sugar and salt. As weight gain can be a problem during menopause due to a slowed metabolism, it’s best to cut out unhealthy and high-calorie foods. Try to avoid the drive thru after work and skip on dessert most nights. Keep indulgences to once or twice a week instead of making them a daily habit.
- Stay away from fizzy beverages. Fizzy and carbonated drinks can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Avoid these drinks, especially with meals. Opt for plain water instead.
- To make your water slightly more appealing, try adding slices of fruit to enhance its flavor.
- Pay attention to portion size. Go for a smaller plate, bowl, or glass. When eating out, try to only eat part of your food and save the rest for later. Bigger portions contain more calories, and therefore more things like fat and sugar, so it’s best to try to limit portion size whenever possible.
- As your metabolism slows down and you age, your body will need fewer calories. Portions that were once acceptable may now be too large. Consider calculating how many calories you should be eating each day based on your age and activity level, and talk to your doctor or dietitian about how to modify your meals to stay within your calorie limits.
- It may help to familiarize yourself with what one portion looks like for each food group so you can eyeball your serving size when you eat out or prepare your meals. For instance, one portion of meat or fish is 3 ounces and about the size of a deck of cards. One serving of a nut-butter is about the size of a ping-pong ball, or . 1/2 cup of grains, or one portion, would fill a cupcake wrapper.
- Cut back on sugar. Sugar can contribute to weight gain and other age-related problems. During menopause, try your best to cut back on your overall sugar intake.
- Go for sugar-free beverages, like water, decaf tea, or water infused with fruit (like lemon or berries).
- Avoid adding table sugar to things like cereal and oatmeal.
- Flavor meals with things like vanilla, almond, and fruit extracts as well as fresh fruit instead of sugar.
- A well-balanced diet should be combined with exercise to stay healthy and combat the weight gain that often occurs during menopause. Strive to exercise for 30 minutes most days of the week.