Aging women experience menopause, a natural end of their menstruation cycle.
Women often face menopausal symptoms of hot flashes, mood swings, and night sweats. Weight accumulating as abdominal fat is also common.
While there is no cure for menopause, good nutrition and other lifestyle factors can lower symptom severity. Embrace a menopause diet for weight loss and to support healthy aging.
The Best Diet During Menopause
The best diet for menopause is one that encourages healthy eating and emphasizes specific nutrients to mitigate common symptoms.
Healthy Eating for Menopause
Healthy eating for menopause is similar to healthy eating for all. Basic principles include incorporating wholesome food sources naturally rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals in the diet.
What’s more, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends a healthy eating pattern that includes the following food groups:
• A variety of veggies from all subgroups, including dark green, red and orange, beans and peas
• Fruits, especially whole fruits over juices • Grains, in which at least half are whole
• Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages
• A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats, and poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, and soy products
• Oils, particularly those rich in unsaturated fatty acids such as olive and canola oils
Increasing the consumption of whole foods is a natural way to eat healthy at any age. However, nutrients of interest during menopause and while aging often includes:
• Carbohydrate: Carbohydrates are found in nutritious plant-based foods and those rich in refined flour and sugar. Choosing nutrient-dense carbs and moderating carb intake helps target insulin resistance and menopausal weight gain, which is described below. Lowering carb content can also stave against hot flashes by stabilizing blood sugars.
• Fat: Like carbohydrate, dietary fat is not treated the same. Saturated fats and trans fats can be dangerous. Unsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids, are beneficial. Aim to consume more healthy fats, including olive oil, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
• Dietary fiber: Dietary fiber requirements often increase with age. After age 50, women should aim for at least 21 grams of fiber daily. Fiber sources are plant-based, including whole grains, fruits, veggies, and legumes.
• Calcium: Calcium needs also increase with age to combat the risk of bone loss and osteoporosis. Women aged 50 and older should consume 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Ensure calcium intake with dairy products, including milk, Greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Additional sources include orange juice with added calcium, whole grain cereals, sardines with bones, soybeans, and leafy greens.
• Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps enhance the absorption of calcium. Women aged 19 to 70 should obtain 600 international unit (IU) daily. Seniors aged 71 and older are advised to 800 IU. Vitamin D food sources include beef, egg yolks, cheese, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and cod liver oil. Milk, yogurt, and orange juice are also often fortified with vitamin D.
• Water: Water supports a healthy metabolism, lowers dehydration and constipation risk, and improves overall health. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water daily.
• Other nutrients: Though all nutrients are important, there are some baring a little more attention with age. These include iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B12. Lower the intake of sodium, too. Consulting with a dietitian can help determine individual nutrient needs.
Ensure healthy eating during menopause with these tips:
• Swap sugary treats with a piece of fruit, square or two of dark chocolate, or other naturally sweet food choices.
• Drink a glass of milk with meals or add to a whole grain cereal.
• Consume fatty fish, including salmon and tuna, twice a week.
• When plating, fill at least half the plate with non-starchy veggies. Designate a quarter for a lean or plant-based protein and another for a complex carb. Complement with a healthy fat source.
• Aim to try at least one new fruit or veggie each week.
• Start the day with a high-protein, low-carb breakfast, including an egg wrap or Greek yogurt parfait.
• Allow indulgences on occasion, as feelings of deprivation can ultimately lead to a binge later on.
• Drink a glass of water with all meals, when taking any medications, and while waiting for the coffee to brew.
• Skip the salt shaker and spice it up in the kitchen with herbs and seasonings.
Maintaining a Low-Carb Diet During Menopause
First off, carbs are the body’s primary energy source. It is used to efficiently carry out daily functions. But “carb” is fundamentally an umbrella term encompassing a wide variety of foods.
The American Diabetes Association indicates foods that contain carbohydrate or “carbs” are:
• Grains like rice, oatmeal, and barley
• Grain-based foods like bread, cereal, pasta, and crackers
• Starchy vegetables like potatoes, peas, and corn
• Fruit and fruit juice
• Milk and yogurt
• Dried beans like pinto beans and soy products like veggie burgers
• Sweets and snack foods like sodas, juice drinks, cake, cookies, candy, and chips
While non-starchy veggies are considered carb sources, the amount they contain is very small. They contribute little to daily calories and minimal impact on blood sugars.
Ultimately, it is important to remember carb sources can be valuable to health. This especially serves true for whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, dairy products, beans, and legumes. As a whole, these carb sources are loaded with fiber and nutrients lending valuable health benefits.
Why Low-Carb During Menopause?
During menopause, long-term weight loss and improvements in overall health can improve while following a low-carb diet. Or, primarily choosing carb sources rich in nutrients and reducing highly processed foods rich in refined flour and sugar.
Lowering carb content is purposeful to target insulin resistance, a condition common in menopausal women. Insulin is a fundamental hormone required to use glucose, as it assists in glucose's entry into the cells following carbohydrate intake.
Think of insulin as a key. When glucose from carb sources is absorbed, insulin is released and helps unlock the cells’ “door” for glucose to enter. Insulin resistance is when cells do not respond well to insulin and cannot sufficiently easily take up glucose the blood.
This can lead to high blood sugars. If left uncontrolled, blood sugars start to elevate overtime and raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. It can also increase the risk of heart disease and other health conditions.
Truly, weight loss and healthy aging are simpler processes if hormonal and metabolic processes are running smoothly and efficiently. And people without insulin resistance lose weight easily, or at least easier than ones with insulin resistance.
Fortunately, bistroMD offers a menopause plan to lose weight and feel (and eat) great. This is all without the added stress of grocery shopping and meal preparation! The bistroMD menopause plan is moderated in net carbs to stabilize blood sugars. Net carbs are the carbohydrate with the most impact on blood sugar, as fiber is non-digestible and bypasses the bloodstream.
Meals on the menopause provide an average of 25 grams of net carbs and a healthy balance of protein and fat. Members also have the option of EATS (essential and tasty snacks), which supply 15 or less net carbs. Enjoying the meals and snacks every three to four hours further helps stabilize blood sugars and curb cravings throughout the day.
Weekly meal plans are also created by Registered Dietitians, so there is never a worry about meeting nutrient needs. What’s more, have ongoing access and support with a personal dietitian before, during, and after the menopausal transition!
Meals are crafted by seasoned chefs using only the freshest ingredients. They are free of unwanted fillers and ingredients, including trans fats, artificial colorings, MSG, chemical fillers, nitrates, added sulfites, or aspartame.
Also offering numerous low-carb recipes and a customizable menu, there is always a find something to satisfy personal taste buds. Featured nutritious and delicious meals include a ricotta crepe with berry compote and grilled salmon with lemon Dijon dressing!