What foods should I avoid in menopause?

what foods should I avoid in menopause

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The transition into menopause can bring an overwhelming amount of change for our body, lifestyle, and mindset. It’s common to feel out of control with certain aspects, and food is one of the areas we tend to put under scrutiny.

We start googling the answer to things, because suddenly, we don’t trust ourselves or our bodies. ‘What foods should I avoid during menopause’ is one such phrase many people google.

So, what’s the deal then? Are there foods we should avoid? Does the body need different things now we’re entering into the menopause? What do we need to be aware of and where are the wins?

In this blog we’ll look at the science behind our nutritional needs for menopause and explore where to focus our attention to beat the overwhelm.

What is the best diet for menopause?

When our body shape changes and we don’t feel like ourselves, we start to question our dietary choices. There is no shortage of information out there that feeds into our insecurities too.

Some women opt to follow a restrictive diet to keep weight down, and others decide to cut out entire food groups to try to help their menopausal symptoms. Neither of these are strategies with a solid evidence base behind them, but they’re popular practices so why are we drawn to them?

What foods should I be restricting in menopause?

Logically to lose weight we feel we need to restrict but it can be a flawed strategy for long-term success.

Do we need to be mindful of what and how we eat? Yes.

Do we need to embark on a strict regime to force our weight back down? No.

The problem is restrictive diets through menopause can often have unwanted side effects. They are hard to follow, resulting in restrict-binge type eating behaviours. The nutritional quality of our diets deteriorates as when in the ‘boom’ phase, our dietary choices are those associated with immediate survival, not long-term health gains.

During menopause, the body is also more susceptible to the effects of the stress response. Dieting itself creates stress for the body so restrictive eating patterns don’t tend to result in the desired results.

Many clients will say to me they are eating far less and exercising more, but nothing is working. This isn’t their fault and is proof that there is so much more to this. My Weight, Waistlines and Hormones masterclass explores this and gives you actionable tips that take you from overwhelm to clarity in nutrition for this stage of life. Find out more here

Are there any food groups I should cut out in menopause?

Removing food groups makes it much harder to meet our nutritional needs and this is a phase of our lives when we can’t really afford to mess about with those.

Our risk of developing conditions such as osteoporosis or heart disease goes up and we can pinpoint specific micronutrients which help protect us, for example magnesium and calcium. Diverting our attention towards restriction, rather than nutrient inclusion can spell disaster for our future health.

what foods should I avoid in menopause

Should I avoid carbs to lose weight in menopause?

I’ve seen plenty of people telling us that carbs are no longer our friend in midlife, and we must therefore do our best to avoid them.

The theory is that we become less sensitive to insulin and therefore can’t process carbs as efficiently, meaning that glucose hangs around in our bloodstream, and eventually converts to fat.

There are problems that arise when complex biology is simplified to the back of a postage stamp. We explore this in detail in How do you get rid of menopause belly fat and delve into what to do instead in Weight, Waistlines and Hormones.

We may not be as biologically capable in our 40s as we were in our 20s, but it doesn’t take away our need for fuel! Arguably, managing our fuels efficiently is even more important in our 40s when life admin and demands are at an all-time high.

Instead of avoidance strategies and low carb approaches which leave us drained and frustrated, we should channel our focus into fuelling efficiently, eating a balance of carbs, fibre and protein at each meal, and avoiding long gaps between meals.

There are many things we can do to improve our sensitivity to insulin, for example addressing sleep, stress and movement strategies alongside our dietary intake. Messing around with our diet, with a restriction mindset usually makes things worse, not better in my clinical experience.

Are food intolerances associated with menopause?

During menopause it is quite common to develop or notice one or multiple sensitivities to food which were never a problem before. Due to the natural hormonal changes in the body and digestive system at this time, the gut may be more prone to bloating, constipation and uncomfortable symptoms around the time food is eaten. We explore more on gut health in menopause in this blog.

For many women this is normal, and they will find their gut to be more sensitive to certain foods than it used to be. However, identifying these triggers can make mealtimes a lot more comfortable. Keeping a food journal may be a good start if this is happening on a regular basis. Depending on what you find, it’s a good idea to get some dietary support with this, to ensure your diet can still provide you with everything you need alongside giving you symptom improvement.

What foods help with menopause symptoms?

Finding ways to incorporate more plant-based proteins may help to ease menopausal symptoms, according to the research. Foods with anti-inflammatory properties, for example fruits, vegetables and oily fish, will also help to protect the body as it loses the protective effects of oestrogen.

In conclusion, there is a lot our diets have to offer us in terms of support.

I don’t believe googling food lists is really where it’s at though; in my experience, we’re a little more complex than that. You can understand your body better by tuning into my Weight, Waistlines and Hormones Masterclass.

We might have been able to wing it in our 20s but this is not the case now sadly.

Instead of instinctively responding to body and weight changes by trying to exert more control, take a step back instead.

Fear forces us to apply will power but this is a flawed strategy if we don’t first seek to understand the drivers of our eating behaviours.

Arming ourselves with more information about our habits, puts us in the driving seat to navigate different choices with insight and intelligence, rather than relying on the will power muscle which will fatigue quickly.

Listening to your body and understanding how to interpret it will create a healthy relationship with food that will anchor and support you through this transition. Find out more about the midlife anchors I offer support with and get in touch for some personalised support – it could make all the difference.

More To Explore

Fancy getting some clarity around what to eat and easing the stress in your head?

Download my menopausal meal planner and access Nourish Lounge seminars for education and inspiration in all things midlife health.