Eating the right food can completely change your menopause experience. While no single ingredient can ‘cure’ you of your symptoms, you can actively manage your menopausal sweats, sleep, and mood by eating more of the ‘right’ things and less of the ‘wrong’.

Eating the best diet for menopause doesn’t have to mean giving up flavor or fun. There have been many studies into the food that can help you better manage your hot flashes, maintain a healthy weight, regulate your mood, and protect your heart and bones.

Let’s take a look at the best foods for menopause (and some to avoid).

Food for hot flashes

Studies show that a Mediterranean-style diet can decrease the occurrence of menopausal hot flashes.

This includes plenty of:

  • berries
  • Greek yogurt
  • whole grains
  • olive oil
  • leafy greens.
A bowl of Greek yoghurt sprinkled with berries as a healthy choice for menopause diet

Increasing the amount of phytoestrogens you consume in your diet may also help improve hot flashes. Phytoestrogens are thought to mimic the body’s own estrogen hormones, and it’s believed that by eating these foods you can ‘replace’ some of your reduced hormones.

Phytoestrogens are also thought to help improve your heart and bone health.

Soy products such as tempeh, tofu, and edamame beans are perhaps the most well-known food containing phytoestrogens, but there are many others available including:

  • flax seeds
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • sesame seeds
  • linseed

But before you start loading up your plate with phytoestrogens, especially soy products, it’s important to talk to your doctor as there may be risks as well as benefits.

Foods to avoid in your diet if you’d like to avoid hot flashes (and just feel better all around!) include any that are high in sugar or fat. You may also find that spicy foods, hot drinks, and alcohol trigger your hot flashes, so pay attention to when they happen and perhaps reduce your intake for the moment.

Food for better sleep in menopause

For many women, the biggest menopause challenge they face is getting a good night’s sleep. The positive news is there are plenty of things you can tweak in your diet that can help you  sleep better.

Adding a little ground flaxseed (not flaxseed oil) to your meals may help reduce insomnia. You might also want to swap red meat for poultry, which is rich in the amino acid tryptophan. This compound may increase your serotonin level (the feel-good hormone) that will in turn help your body create more melatonin, which controls your sleep cycle.

Other foods that will improve your chances of falling asleep and staying asleep include:

  • kale
  • yogurt
  • fish
  • whole grains
  • white rice
  • honey.

As with hot flashes, you may want to avoid spicy food, alcohol, and caffeine if you’re having trouble falling asleep or night sweats are waking you.

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Food for healthy weight

Have you noticed that your diet may be the same as it was before menopause, but the pounds are piling on? Especially around your waist? That’s because women between 45 and 55 years old typically gain a little over a pound (abouthalf a kilo) a year.

While hormone fluctuations are responsible for fat distribution (to your midsection, not your hips or breasts), a decrease in muscle mass and slowing of metabolism is also contributing to weight gain.  You can expect to lose 3-8% of muscle mass every decade after your 30s. A diet filled with lean, high-protein foods, as well as weight bearing exercise can slow or even reverse this trend.

Putting on weight in small amounts is perfectly normal, but it’s still important to be mindful of what goes on your plate as any excess weight can make your other menopause symptoms worse; especially, hot flashes, night sweats, and your heart health. In fact cardiovascular disease is now the number one cause of death in post-menopausal women.

Because of this increased risk, scientists at Harvard Medical School advise women experiencing menopause keep an eye on their cholesterol levels—even if cholesterol has never been a problem for you before.

A positive change is to start swapping out high cholesterol foods, such as fried fatty foods, processed meats like bacon, and full-fat dairy.

Try to focus on eating more protein, fiber, and healthy fats to feel more satiated as well as protein for building and maintaining muscle.

Eat more foods such as:

  • turkey
  • chicken
  • fish
  • red kidney beans
  • peas
  • quinoa
  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • Brazilian nuts.
Jars of walnuts, almonds and Brazilian nuts for healthy weight management in menopause

Alcohol is another one to keep your eye on. Excessive drinking can prevent your body from burning fat as it’s high in calories and may lead to more hunger while leaving you feeling less full.

Food for better moods

Fluctuating hormones, fatigue, and life stresses can all play a part in your mood regulation during menopause. No matter how good life is, if you haven’t slept well for the past few months, chances are you’re feeling pretty low.

Around 20% of women experience feelings of depression during menopause and many more experience anxiety.

Some fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha can help create a healthy gut microbiome that promotes the creation of serotonin. Normal levels of serotonin can help regulate mood, increase feelings of happiness, and decrease feelings of anxiousness.

Other foods such as bananas, oats, berries, dark chocolate (in moderation), and oily fish, like salmon, can also bring happy feelings to the body.

And while caffeine has been shown to promote a mood boost, alcohol is a depressant and if you’re feeling low, it should be avoided.

Food for bone health

We’ve already discussed loss of muscle mass, but did you know, your bone mass can also reduce during this time? On average, women will lose around 10% of their bone mass.

This is largely thanks to lower estrogen levels which trigger the body to break down more bone than it creates. This is why osteoporosis is commonly linked with menopause as it’s a condition that causes your bones to reduce in density and fracture more easily.

Eating more foods with phytoestrogens, such as soy, plums, pears, apples, tofu, or lentils, has been shown to improve your bone health. But as we mentioned earlier, talk to your doctor first if you do decide to make any major changes to your diet and increase your soy intake in particular.

To further reduce your risk of osteoporosis, as well as minimizing other symptoms and potential complications of menopause, your doctor may suggest the addition of vitamin D and calcium supplements to your diet to keep your bone density from dropping.

Foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D include:

sardines

  • tuna
  • salmon
  • egg yolks
  • fortified cereals.

Similarly, eating more calcium-rich foods can improve your bone health—try including more sunflower seeds, almonds, kale, broccoli, arugula (rocket), and spinach in your diet.

Just keep in mind that consuming vitamin D and calcium as supplements is thought to be problematic for some. Ensure you talk to your doctor first about these options.

Menopause diet: what not to do

If you’ve Googled ‘menopause diet’ (and haven’t we all?!), what you find can be overwhelming. Don’t be lured into anything resembling a crash diet, as this will only mess with your metabolism. Instead, you want to play a long game—slow and steady will always be the best approach.

Fad diets such as juice diets or ‘skinny’ teas may end up doing you more harm than good. So set yourself up for success and follow some basic rules.

Consume more:

  • lean protein (white fish, lentils, chicken breast)
  • oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines)
  • a variety of fruits and vegetables (eat the rainbow)
  • herbs—they add so much flavor!

Consume less:

  • alcohol
  • chili
  • packaged, processed foods
  • high-fat foods
  • red meat

The Wrap Up

Creating the best menopause diet for you can help you feel sleep better and even reduce troublesome symptoms such as insomnia and hot flashes. Increasing oily fish, reducing alcohol, and eating a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables can all help. But keep in mind that everybody and every body is different. We recommend talking to your doctor or a nutritionist to get expert advice on what can promote the best outcomes for you during menopause.

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Contents

Calm IBS in 6 weeks

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Hot Flash Relief

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Hypnotherapy

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Could it be IBS?
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Free guide to managing IBS with hypnotherapy
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
What if you could calm IBS in just 6 weeks?
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters from Monash Univeristy
Could it be IBS?
Take the quiz to find out.
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Calm IBS in 6 weeks
Diet and drug free program
50,000+ people helped
Created by Dr Simone Peters
Manage IBS with gut-directed hypnotherapy
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Sleep better, without hormones
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Low risk
Evidence based
Manage hot flashes in just five weeks
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