Dietary Changes for Perimenopause

food, menopause, perimenopause

Many women feel like the bodily changes they experience during perimenopause are due to factors out of their control. While that is true to some extent, there are choices you can make to go through perimenopause in the healthiest way possible. Knowing what to eat in menopause is one way you can take control.

Dietary changes for perimenopause can help to decrease common side effects that can make this an unpleasant transition for some women. Read on for six ways to improve your menopause diet and a list of the best foods for menopause.

First Published: October 8, 2018… Last Updated: May 7, 2020

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Food Staples of a Menopause Diet Plan

If you want to know what to eat in menopause — technically, perimenopause….do you know the difference?– here are your best options:

  1. Heart Healthy Fats like avocados, nuts, and fatty fish
  2. Dairy Products
  3. Leafy Greens
  4. Nuts & Seeds
  5. Whole Grains
  6. Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

Really, it’s all about eating fresh, healthy, whole foods. A menopause diet plan is not complicated!

Whew! The best part is that eating these foods in menopause can actually help you feel better every day.

 

Six dietary changes for perimenopause

 

 

Reduce Your Intake of Fatty Foods

The first thing you need to do if you want to make dietary changes for perimenopause and buffer negative symptoms is to reduce your intake of fatty foods. This might be hard at first, but small changes are totally fine.

Fatty foods that are loaded with trans fats like margarine and vegetable oil are not good for you and can increase your cholesterol. Increased levels of cholesterol in perimenopausal women are especially dangerous. Menopause means you no longer have the heart-protective benefits of high estrogen levels. So lower estrogen plus higher cholesterol equals an increased risk of heart-related disease.

Not all fats are bad for you!

But don’t cut out all fatty foods! Did you know there is such a thing as a “good fat”? It’s true! Healthy fats are great for your heart health and cell regeneration.

Try to stick to healthy fats like avocado and olive oil and nuts. Seeds are a great option, too, because they’re loaded with nutrients. Not only will you skip the tummy upset that oily fats can give you, but healthy fats fill you up while making you feel better.

The best part is that reducing your intake of fatty foods not only will it help with your perimenopause symptoms but with your overall health as well.

Watch the Salty/Sweet Snacks

Reducing your sugar and salt can also help with menopause, so that is another dietary change you should consider. Salt and sugar both create inflammation in the body. When the body is inflamed, it cannot function as efficiently as possible.

This is especially important for women experiencing joint pain. Research demonstrates that the lowering levels of estrogen mean joints are not as well lubricated as in your younger years. When you have the combination of decreased estrogen in the joints and increased inflammation from food choices, joint pain increases.

Reducing your sugar and salt can also help with physical changes during perimenopause because both salt and sugar correlate with weight gain. They encourage the body to make more cortisol, a stress hormone that leads to belly fat and weight gain.

Most salty snacks lack nutritional value. While they taste good as you are eating them, they are nothing more than empty calories. The same is true for sugary snacks. Remember that you are in control of deciding which foods help your body feel and move at its best.

Increase Your Calcium

One of the more important nutrients to have in your body when you are going through perimenopause is calcium. Calcium is essential for maintaining bone health.

The current Food & Drug Administration recommends a daily value of calcium of 1,000 mg a day for healthy adults. This target can be met by eating a food sources that are high in calcium or through a supplement.

Natural sources are always the best way to get your nutrition. Your body is designed to absorb the calcium it receives from food sources.

So first try to get your calcium from your diet. Most people know that dairy products are calcium-rich. Foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, and kefir are all dairy sources of calcium. If you’re a vegan, go for non-dairy milk options like nut milks as part of your menopause diet.

leafy greens are an iron source for menopause diet.

Leafy greens are also a fantastic calcium source. Bok choy, collards, mustard greens, spinach, and kale are all excellent vegan sources of calcium. If you don’t get enough calcium through these sources, then talk with your health care provider about taking a supplement.

But calcium alone doesn’t make strong bones! Your body needs Vitamin D to help your bones absorb the calcium you ingest. Thus, maintaining suitable levels of Vitamin D is critical for your bone health. Check out these five ways to increase your Vitamin D levels without taking a supplement!

All women over 40 should speak with their health care provider about further ways to improve bone health.

Get More Iron

Another nutrient that is important to include in your diet for perimenopause is iron. It help women who are in perimenopause reduce symptoms like fatigue and sluggishness.

Because women in perimenopause often experience changes in their menstrual cycle, keeping on top of your iron levels is key to feeling good. With heavier periods, you are losing more iron each month than you used to. If you have noticed that you feel more tired during your period, it is likely due to low iron levels during that point of your cycle.

foods that are iron sources for menopause diet

Eating iron-rich foods is the best way to get this all-important nutrient. Many people think that red meat is the only dietary source of iron. Not true! Iron is found in eggs, leafy greens, nuts, and beans and lentils. So whether you are a meat eater or not, there are options available to you to increase your iron levels.

Bulk up with Fiber

One of the more unpleasant symptoms of perimenopause is a sluggish digestive system. Women in their forties often complain of bloating and constipation. Again, as estrogen levels decrease, the whole body becomes less lubricated.

To avoid constipation, it is essential that you keep a high level of fiber intake. To get more fiber, try whole grains, fruit, and vegetables. Many breakfast cereals tout themselves as high in fiber, but make sure you’re reading the nutrition labels!

Adding more fiber to your diet has heart-health benefits, too. Fiber also helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable. As you can see, there are lots of good reasons to add more fiber to your diet.

(If you do have issues with constipation, using a Squatty Potty can help. While it doesn’t relieve the constipation, it gives your body the best alignment for elimination. There’s no need to suffer through one more painful bowel movement!)

Eat more Fruits and Veggies

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables every day is essential not only for perimenopause but for overall health at this stage of your life as well. Try to have 5-9 servings or 2 cups of fruits and veggies every day, more if it fits within your daily diet.

You’ll notice that the fiber from the fruits and vegetables can help resolve issues with constipation. Furthermore, the wide array of nutrients in produce help fight inflammation all throughout your body. And chances are that you’ll be cutting out some less healthy snacks if you up your produce intake. That’s an additional benefit of eating more produce!

If you struggle with eating that much produce, learn some easy ways to eat more fruits and vegetables. If you’d like even more help in adding more produce to your diet, my ecourse Build Healthy Habits: Six Weeks to Wellness is packed with realistic tips.

Small changes in your diet really can make a big difference to how you feel as you move through perimenopause. There’s no need to have a “perfect” diet. (And what would that look like, anyway?) But by paying a little more attention to what you’re eating and how it makes you feel, I think you’ll start to notice some positive changes.

 

Dietary changes in perimenopause can help you feel better both now and in to the future. Try to make just one small change to your perimenopause diet, and see how it makes you feel. Who wouldn’t want more energy, fewer aches, and better sleep? You have the power to make it happen!

 

What changes have you made to your menopause diet to make you feel better? Leave me a note in the comments!

Karen Shopoff Rooff is a certified health coach. The Well Balanced Women blog is for educational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please discuss your health issues with a licensed medical practitioner.

2 Comments

  1. Meredith

    Dear Coach Karen,
    I am going to put these into practice. I was at an open house yesterday sopping wet & person asked if I got caught in the rain putting up signs!
    ~Hot in Cat Mountain

    Reply
    • karen@balancepft.com

      Let me know how they work for you!

      Reply

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Meet Coach Karen

 

Karen Shopoff Rooff is a wife to one, mom to three, and coach to many. She has reaped the rewards of living a fit and active life. Her writing, speaking, and coaching encourage others to become Well Balanced Women.

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