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What Foods Should I Avoid During Menopause?

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Fatigue, weight gain, moodiness, and hot flashes can make you wish for a slice of cake or a second martini, but those choices could actually make these symptoms of menopause worse. You can take a little more control over the consequences of your symptoms by eating better and by exercising. Simple menopause diet choices, such as fruit instead of a sugary dessert, could make all the difference in your day and your mood.

Fatty Cuts of Meat

Women going through menopause can gain 8 to 15 pounds in the first two years if they aren’t careful. Fat should represent less than 20 percent of your daily menopause diet. Fat should provide 25% to 35% or less of your total daily calories. Also, limit saturated fat to less than 7% of your total daily calories. Saturated fat raises cholesterol and boosts your risk for heart disease. You might need to experiment a little, for instance try having a grilled chicken breast instead of beef brisket.

Sugar

Fight fatigue and weight gain symptoms of menopause by controlling blood sugar. Limit sugar intake to less than 10 grams at a time. You can still have a small cookie, but better menopause diet choices for snacking are fruits, especially berries and veggies.

Sodium

Too much sodium in the diet is linked to high blood pressure. Go easy on smoked, salt-cured, and charbroiled foods, these foods have high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to cancer.

Refined Carbohydrates

White bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, corn, these high-carb foods also contribute to cycles of moodiness and fatigue- all common symptoms of menopause. Your best menopause diet alternatives are whole grains or simply limiting the portion sizes and number of carbs that you eat.

Caffeine

Women experiencing symptoms of menopause may have trouble sleeping well along with hot flashes. You might try to fight fatigue in the morning with a dose (or several doses) of caffeine, but this strategy can backfire. Caffeine can make you both moody and even more tired, since it interferes with sleep, especially if you drink it after noon. The other problem with caffeine is that we rarely drink it alone — once you add sugar or cream, you are making the drink even less healthy. Try an herbal peppermint tea or a caffeine free tea for a gentle pick-me-up on a menopause diet.

Alcohol

A glass of wine with friends once in a while won’t worsen symptoms of menopause. However, a regular habit of two or more drinks a day can add calories to your menopause diet and make symptoms such as fatigue or moodiness much worse. Try to avoid it or make it a diluted drink, like wine spritzers. You can extend that into two drinks over a couple of hours.

Spicy Foods

Spicy food could make hot flashes worse or just make you less comfortable in general. When you are eating spicy food your core body temp goes up, and you start sweating. This is exactly what happens in hot flashes. However, if you just love spicy food, you can still include it in your menopause diet in small servings — just be aware of the effect it is having on your body.

Hot Foods

If you’re really suffering from hot flashes, don’t have anything related to hot foods, such as hot soups, too frequently. You might want to choose a side salad instead of soup for an appetizer, for example. Snacking on refrigerated veggies and fruits or sipping on chilled water can help keep hot flashes down.

Non-Homogenized Dairy Products

As you enter menopause, bone loss increases dramatically. You’ll need to make sure that your menopause diet is rich in sources of calcium and vitamin D. Avoid raw or non-homogenized dairy products, which might not have enough vitamin D and also can expose you to food-borne illness. Instead, non-fat (skim) milk often provides a good balance of bone healthy nutrition.