9 Foods to Avoid During Menopause
All these mood swings and hot flashes can make you wish for nothing else but a second glass of wine or a slice of chocolate cake but unhealthy food choices can exacerbate symptoms associated with menopause.
Taking control of your diet and making smarter food choices can improve menopause symptoms dramatically.
You don’t need to buy expensive diet products or start calorie counting; you just need to learn proper substitution. For example, having a fruit salad instead of a sugar-laden dessert can make a huge different to your mood and how your body feels.
Start by understanding what foods are bad for you, especially during this time of your life. Avoiding the following can significantly improve hot flashes.
9 Foods to Avoid During Menopause
Sugar wreaks havoc on your hormonal and digestive system. It’s also one of the main causes of fatigue and weight gain among menopausal women . Overweight women have a higher chance of having hot flashes often compared to women with a normal BMI. You don’t have to go cold turkey on this one but if possible, getting rid of sugar for good would be amazing.
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Be creative! Try to replace sugar with other natural sweeteners such as berries, bananas, honey, dates, coconut sugar and agave nectar. A cookie once in a while is for everyone to enjoy of course. You can make a menopause-friendly version too. Recipe here; you won’t believe how easy it is to make these!
2. Spicy food
We understand your love for spicy food but you need to go easy on the hot sauce. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, food with a lot of heat can trigger hot flashes and night sweats and make them more intense.
Skip the chilies and try opting for flavorsome ingredients such as turmeric, curry powder and cumin.
If you can’t avoid spicy food, try to add less heat or make the flavors subtler by adding coconut milk or yogurt to your dish. Dairy can help neutralize heat in many dishes and make them taste pretty amazing too.
3. Your booze
Menopause doesn’t put an end to your happy hours but reducing consumption may benefit you immensely. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendations, a drink or less per day is described as moderate drinking. Many women notice that their hot flashes worsen from alcohol consumption, according to the North American Menopause Society.
Furthermore, the North American Menopause Society states that women who consume two to five drinks daily have a 1.5 times higher risk of breast cancer compared to those who drink at all. Heavy drinking also elevates your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
Always make sure you listen to your body and avoid foods that worsen your symptoms. If you still want to indulge occasionally, go for drinks with lower alcohol content than standard drinks.
We all love a good cup of Joe in the morning but the caffeine in your coffee may be worsening your hot flashes.
According to a study published in the 2014 issue of Menopause, women who consumed caffeine had a higher likelihood of having hot flashes than women who didn’t have any caffeine. Caffeine is also a strong stimulant, which may cause stress and insomnia – two very common symptoms associated with menopause.
Trying to fight your fatigue in the morning with coffee may make things even worse. You’ll become moody at the end of the day and will feel more stressed out. It’s a double edged sword. Stress is linked to hot flashes in women so the key is to reduce it by having less caffeine, getting enough sleep and having mood-boosting foods such as fish, chicken, dark chocolate, nuts and fruit.
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Another issue with drinking coffee is that most people rarely consume it without cream or milk. This adds more calories to the drink and leads to weight gain. If you enjoy hot beverages, go for something without caffeine such as peppermint tea or ginger tea.
Continue Reading: The Truth About Caffeine and Hot Flashes
5. Fatty meat cuts
Not being careful about what you eat can result in a gain of around 8 to 15 pounds within the first two years after menopause. Studies show that overweight women are more likely to suffer from severe hot flashes than women who aren’t overweight.
In addition, meat with a lot of saturated fat can bring down the body’s serotonin levels, making you feel grumpy and irritable later in the day, according to a study published in the 2014 issue of the journal, Metabolism. Therefore, while purchasing meat, make sure you go for lean cuts and slimmer alternatives like ground beef, chicken and turkey.
Make sure fat makes up 20 percent of your daily diet during menopause.
Note that foods that are recommended for menopause women are healthy and can improve your health and wellness at any stage of your life, whether you’re menopausal or not. Develop healthy eating habits and make proper food choices. It may take some time to get used to having more grilled chicken salad sandwiches with whole wheat bread instead of big fat burgers with fries and shake, but it’s definitely worth it and will make menopause much more pleasant and tolerable.
6. Processed food
Foods that come in packets and containers such as potato chips and candy bars may taste great but they’re often packed with sodium, sugar and preservatives which are horrible to your digestive system, immunity and overall health. Sodium causes water retention which can make you feel bloated and uncomfortable. During menopause, try your best to avoid things that make you uncomfortable as any trigger can affect your mood negatively. Stress and weight gain may great contribute to hot flashes as well and make them much worse.
You can make some healthy replacements such as apples and cheese or carrots dipped in hummus, blueberries, nuts or a whole-wheat slice of bread with banana and peanut butter. All these foods will satisfy you, improve hot flashes because of the nutrients they contain and help you lose weight too.
7. Refined carbs
Having dinner at a buffet or a party can make you end up having at least six different types of carbs -- cookies, cakes, rice, bread, buns, biscuits, pasta, pies, batter fried chicken, beer… the list goes on. Refined carbs can easily lead to weight gain and can worsen menopause symptoms such as hot flashes.
Therefore, go for complex carbs from whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables and lentils and legumes. If you’re craving for pasta or cake, have it in moderation and only once in a while.
8. Fast food
Another major cause of weight gain in the modern population, fast food may be convenient when you don’t have enough time but they serve a killer amount of fat and calories. You can have something much lower in fat, salt and refined carbs if you make it at home.
Menopause increases your risk of heart disease and fast food makes this worse, according to the American Heart Association.
If your schedule doesn’t give you enough time to cook every day, try making extra when you’re free and freezing the leftovers. Pack a lunch to work and choose healthier dishes on menus such as salads minus the heavy condiments, grilled chicken, chicken salad sandwiches, wholegrain buns etc.
9. Non-homogenized dairy
Bone loss becomes quite dramatic as you enter menopause therefore, you need to ensure that your diet is rich in foods with vitamin D and calcium. Non-homogenized dairy doesn’t have enough vitamin D and can also put you at risk of food-borne illness.
Choose non-fat dairy to provide a good balance of the nutrients you need for healthy bones. Consulting a doctor regarding vitamin D and calcium supplements might help as well.
Avoiding a midlife metabolic crisis
Your metabolism slows down with age and goes on a great dip during menopause. Losing weight and preventing menopause symptoms may take time and will not work with any shortcuts. To prevent metabolic decline and to maintain a healthy weight, make sure the following are in check:
- A well-balanced and nutritious diet: If your diet comprises of mostly clean and healthy food, chances are you’re getting a lot of nutrients that improve menopause symptoms. Make sure you have more vegetables, fruit, soy, whole grains, nuts and seeds, low-fat dairy and lean protein as they’re satiating and don’t have too many calories. If you enjoy alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day. However, it’s best to avoid triggers altogether to relieve symptoms.
- Exercise more: Just 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week can make a huge difference to how you feel and look. You don’t have to exercise in a gym to reap its benefits. A jog in the park, a morning walk, a zumba or yoga session are all amazing exercises that can be done at home. Try embracing more active hobbies such as gardening, dancing or window shopping at big malls as well.