Did you know there are foods to avoid in menopause? Depending on whether you knew or not, this could be good news or not so good news. Let's start with the good news and what happens when you limit or remove these foods from your diet. Many common menopause symptoms decrease in severity and/or frequency. That’s huge when you’re talking about an experience where one often feels powerless. So, good because power. But bad because one link of sausage rather than two. We don’t know about you, but it feels like the possible positives far outweigh the negatives.
If you need a personalized diet or plan, a menopause-certified health coach can be helpful. Book 30 minutes for your personal consultation with a health coach.
The six foods listed below aren’t “bad” when consumed in moderation. Yet, it’s easy to overdo it when it comes to all six. In fact, at least one of them has been labeled more addictive than cocaine. Not exactly a selling point, and yet another reason to think twice about what you put in your mouth.
Now, it’s feasible that we’re about to tell you many of your favorite edible options need to either exit your diet all-together, or, at the very least, make far fewer appearances in your meals. And that’s hard. We get it. So we’re also going to look at how best to go about removing/restricting these foods from your life, and what to replace them with. Remember, the likelihood of less severe and/or lower frequency menopausal symptoms. And the added bonus of taking out the non-nutritional trash and increasing your intake of the healthy fuel your body needs to be strong, stable, and ready to support you through whatever comes your way. Let’s get started!
Caffeine isn’t so bad when consumed in moderation. In fact, it boasts plenty of health benefits. Most people can consume about one cup of coffee a day without any side effects. Sadly, Americans generally drink much more than their recommended share of caffeine.
Coworkers crowd around the coffee machine in break rooms, Starbucks can be found on every block in major cities, and beverages such as sodas and even kombucha have caffeine, too.
Because chocolate and coffee flavoring often contain caffeine, your late-night ice cream snack or pudding cup may need to go. Even your pain reliever could be hiding caffeine, which is great for speeding relief, but less so when you're trying to minimize hot flashes in menopause and/or night sweats. The reason? Experts suggest caffeine consumption exacerbates menopausal vasomotor symptoms--hot flashes and night sweats that occur due to the constriction or dilation of blood vessels.
Alcohol plays a major role in our society. We toast the new year with a glass of bubbly, socialize with coworkers and friends at happy hour, and some even drink a sip during the sacrament at church.
Again, drinking alcohol in moderation is perfectly fine. But even in moderation, it can really amp up menopause symptoms such as headaches, hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. It can even contribute to depression if you’re drinking heavily. As for why alcohol can increase menopausal symptoms? The jury is still out, but two theories include alcohol impacting our already fluctuating hormones and dilation of blood vessels (we do recommend you try Libeeration beer for menopause symptoms!)
Potato chips. Donuts. Frozen pizza. What do these delicious items all have in common? They’re part of the processed foods group, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as “any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to washing, cleaning, milling, cutting, chopping, heating, pasteurizing, blanching, cooking, canning, freezing, drying, dehydrating, mixing, packaging, or other procedures that alter the food from its natural state.”
That’s a big list, so let’s narrow it down by what to watch out for. Inflammation, bloating, weight gain symptoms, and fatigue can all intensify thanks to the unhealthy levels of sugar and sodium found in most processed foods.
Processed sugar (sugar not occurring naturally in foods such as fruit, but rather sugar added to foods and beverages) can make your blood sugar levels higher, which can lead to more intense/frequent hot flashes, sweating in general, and brain fog. With the sugar industry deciding to not play fair by employing 60 different names for sugar on product labels, you might find it tricky to track how much of the white stuff you’re taking in.
This one is pretty easy to figure out. Under normal circumstances, foods that rate high on the heat scale can cause sweating, flushing, and elements found in hot flashes. So, for a menopausal woman who’s already dealing with hot flashes and night sweats, it’s probably best to get rid of the ghost peppers and make use of spices that add flavor without the heat, like cumin, turmeric, curry, and basil.
Everyone knows that fatty meats are high in saturated fat, which can cause all sorts of health issues, including weight gain. But did you know it can also lower anger attacks? And lower serotonin levels in menopausal women can lead to a lack of mood control (anger, irritation, rage). Not good. Not good at all.
So, skip the marbled steak and thick-cut bacon and go for the leaner meats, like turkey, chicken, even ground beef--as long as it’s 90% lean or better.
Now for the foods that you need during midlife. The key at this stage is to not only eat foods that might help ease menopausal symptoms, but also ones that provide the nutrients vital to carrying you gracefully through this transition and beyond. For example, there are a ton of great foods to ease hot flashes.
As estrogen levels decline, your risk of fractures goes up. So calcium-rich foods, like yogurt, cheese, and milk are essential for bone health. It’s also possible that dairy products improve sleep quality in menopausal women. They’re high in the amino acid glycine, which can encourage deeper sleep.
Pescararians, rejoice! Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and anchovies, have been shown to decrease the frequency of hot flashes and severity of night sweats. Other foods high in omega-3 include seeds--hemp, chia, and flax.
Packed with vitamins and minerals, fruits and vegetables are a menopausal woman’s friend. Especially cruciferous veggies (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, collard greens, cabbage). Many women experience a decrease in hot flashes when they introduce more fruits and veggies into their daily diet.
Fiber is good for everyone. But it’s especially good for women in midlife when it comes to depression. Foods rich in fiber, like beans, nuts, oatmeal, broccoli, berries, avocados, and apples have been shown to lower the occurrence of depression in menopausal women.
Declining estrogen is at it again, this time causing decreased muscle mass and bone strength. To combat this, get plenty of lean protein. Look to foods we’ve already mentioned, such as fish, legumes, and nuts. Also, try out eggs, lean meat (no red), and tofu.
It’s always a good idea to have an awesome supplement on your side, and never more so than during menopause. Even when you stick to a strict diet, it’s likely that you’re not getting enough of this or that. So let a supplement put your mind at ease.
Our Vitality Menopause Supplement aims to improve energy, mood, sleep, and inflammation while making sure you’re getting all the good stuff your body deserves.
There are three camps of thought when it comes to balancing our indulgences and cutting back on the foods to avoid in menopause. Read below for details on all three, then set up an appointment with your doctor or specialist for menopause near you to discuss the best way to go about putting your plan into place.
If you don’t already have a doc, get connected with a Gennev menopause-certified gynecologist who will give you a trusted opinion. Book an appointment here.
Some experts believe that making “too-sudden changes” without a plan can lead to failure. If you up and decide that tomorrow you’re going to go cold turkey on three things you might be both chemically and emotionally addicted to, quitting without a plan could lead to quitting.
Instead, pick a date in the future to make big dietary changes. Do some research. Try to find recipes that will satisfy your sweet tooth and utilize fruits or other natural sources of sugar. Create a list of virgin (or extremely low-alcohol) cocktails that give you a refreshing kick. Or, consider switching to decaf coffee a few times a day to trick your body into thinking you’re still getting your cozy cup of Joe--without the caffeine.
Many experts believe that waiting until a certain date isn’t the best tactic. One of the ideas behind this is that you’ll probably indulge even more between now and then. Knowing that you won’t be able to enjoy your 3 PM cup of coffee might make you want to drink even more of it between now and stopping time.
Similarly, knowing you’ll miss your happy hour glass of wine or cocktail in the future might encourage you to drink too many right now — which could lead to menopause dehydration or hangovers. So this plan says there’s no time like the present!
There’s another group of experts that believe there’s a happy medium when it comes to indulgence. Begin by seeking some support from your doctor* or coach. Make a plan together. Enjoy a glass of wine at dinner (or happy hour) and don’t “go cold turkey” and deprive yourself in the future.
If you tell yourself that you can eat one cookie today, knowing there will be more cookies tomorrow, you’ll be better able to stop after just one. It’s when we deprive ourselves that we go into panic mode and eat all the cookies.
The truth is, change is one of the few constants in our lives. And having foods to avoid in menopause is just another tweak necessary to keep you on track toward health and happiness. Will this journey be challenging? Absolutely. But a very worthwhile one. Your future self will thank you for your health, energy, and focus.
How are you improving your health this year? Quitting caffeine? Modifying sugar intake, doubling your daily hydration? We’d love to hear about it, and support you, in our Community forums.
*It is not Gennev’s intention to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided, and Gennev urges you to consult with a menopause clinic, qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.
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