Menopause ushers in lots of changes in the lives of millions of women each year — changes both frustrating and liberating.
People typically associate menopause with an end of periods and fertility, but the decline in estrogen that happens during this period causes far more changes in a woman’s life and health. For example, it’s a lot easier to gain weight and a lot harder to take it off.
Weight gain during menopause isn’t just about how you feel about your appearance, although that’s undoubtedly important. Those extra pounds also increase your risks of serious health problems, like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even some types of cancer.
As a leading internal medicine practice in Miami, Florida, I & B Medical Associates helps women make important diet and lifestyle changes to help them navigate the challenges of menopause successfully and confidently.
In this post, our team offers six tips to help you adjust your postmenopausal eating habits.
Plenty of snack foods and even daily basics, like bread and crackers, contain exorbitant amounts of sugar. Excess sugar can quickly contribute to weight gain while increasing your risk of diabetes.
Reading food labels is one of the best ways to keep track of your sugar intake. Watching portion sizes is another. Opt for naturally sweetened foods, like fresh or frozen fruits, and replace refined sugars with natural sweeteners, like honey or maple syrup.
Consuming too much sodium can quickly lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), a serious risk for women once they reach menopause. Like refined sugars, sodium (salt) is found in a surprising number of foods, and once again, reading labels is critical.
To add flavoring on your own, look for salt substitutes or consider adding a squirt of citrus juice to mimic the taste of salt. Choose low-sodium or sodium-free foods and limit all types of pre-packaged convenience foods.
Trans fats and saturated fats can lead to heart disease, atherosclerosis, and other serious, chronic diseases. Limit or avoid these fats altogether, focusing instead on omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, seeds, and nuts.
These fats help fight inflammation and other age-related cell damage. Olive oil is another fat with plenty of health benefits, so make room for it — in moderation — in your diet.
Watching portion sizes is especially important during menopause. One way to make sure every bite counts is to add plenty of nutrient-dense foods to your eating plan.
Skip processed and convenience foods, and add whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts, low-fat dairy, and lean protein. These foods contain nutrients necessary to help lower your health risks and improve your overall metabolism.
Estrogen plays an important role in maintaining healthy bones. During menopause, loss of bone density can become critical. Foods rich in vitamin D and calcium give bones the components they need to build healthy bone tissue and reduce the risk of osteoporosis and related fractures.
Low-fat dairy foods, leafy greens, and foods fortified with these nutrients are all good choices to add to your diet. Being active outdoors exposes your skin to sunlight necessary for vitamin D production.
Soy foods contain isoflavones, compounds that mimic the effects of natural estrogen. Adding soy foods to your diet mitigates some of the changes caused by the decline in estrogen while also helping you maintain a healthier weight.
Data show soy foods help improve bone health, prevent bone loss, boost immunity, protect heart health, and decrease inflammation.