Foods That Make Symptoms of Menopause Worse

Foods That Make Symptoms of Menopause Worse

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Menopause is already tough on you, as you have to deal with symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, weight gain, or brain fog. But you can make these symptoms even worse if you choose the wrong foods to add to your menopause diet. Fatigue, insomnia, and moodiness can make you want another glass of wine or another chocolate chip cookie, but neither of those will be the right choice to make you feel better. Switching your dietary choices for something lighter and healthier will actually help improve your symptoms and also promote weight loss. So, make sure to avoid these foods that make symptoms of menopause and perimenopause worse.

Some foods can worsen your symptoms of menopause
Some foods can worsen your symptoms of menopause

Perimenopause / Menopause

Are you in perimenopause / menopause?

Fatty Meat

One of the symptoms that can be a hit to the woman’s self-confidence is weight gain. According to this study (1), the transition of menopause leads to an increase in abdominal and total body fat in women. And not only is weight gain much easier at this age, it is also much more difficult to get rid of the stubborn fat. As a result, a woman suffers not only from increased risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, but also from problems related to sexual function and body image.

If you enjoy eating fatty cuts of meat or are looking forward to bite into the skin on a chicken wing, you should evaluate these habits in menopause. To avoid weight gain and also prevent health problems related to high fat consumption, avoid saturated fats from meats and dairy. Thus, try to have your daily fat intake around 20% or less in menopause. Instead of fatty meats or heavy cream, turn to unsaturated fats in avocados, nuts, seeds, fish, and olive oil.

Caffeine & Alcohol

Are you in the habit of having your morning coffee so much that you cannot go through the day without it? Do you reach for a glass of wine at the end of a long and tiring day? You might have read or heard before that both of these are fine in moderation, yet when it comes to menopause, less caffeine and less alcohol are best.

Caffeine can set off your hot flashes if you drink it throughout the day. It will also make it harder to fall asleep at night, which would only worsen your insomnia. Make sure to drink a lot of water in the second half of the day instead. Same happens with alcohol, because it dilates your blood vessels. As a result, your hot flashes and insomnia will get worse. Have a glass of wine if you wish, but try to do it long before bedtime.

Too much caffeine can make your hot flashes worse
Too much caffeine can make your hot flashes worse

Sweet Foods Worsen Menopause Symptoms

This study (2) has shown the possibility of a link between hot flashes in menopause and increased insulin resistance and as a result increased risk of cardiovascular disease. So, it is important to control your sugar intake at the age of menopause. Maintaining steady blood sugar levels will help you find relief from weight gain and will also help reduce fatigue because you will not experience sudden spikes in blood sugar from cakes and cookies.

During menopause, your hormones fluctuate. Because of that, you might have more sugar cravings than before. But eating refined sugars will only make your situation worse. It might worsen your mood swings and also lead to more hormonal imbalance. If you are craving sugars during the day, how about eating a small fruit instead? Fruits contain natural sugars and will make perfect snacks for avoiding weight gain and giving you the energy to carry you through the day.

Spicy Meals

You might love spicy food, but hot sauce is not good for you at the age of menopause. When you eat spicy foods, your body temperature rises for a short time. So, not surprisingly, eating a spicy meal would make your hot flashes worse. If you are having lunch or dinner in a company of friends, a hot flash could make you feel uncomfortable about your menopause, so go easy on the sauce.

If you enjoy flavorful meals, try to choose food which has different spices like oregano, basil, turmeric, cumin, cardamom or other. But if you absolutely cannot avoid eating spicy, try to reduce the heat. Make your burritos with green salsa instead of chipotle or add coconut cream to your Indian curry. Also, for many meals, you can simply use dairy or plant based cream to tone down the spicy flavor.

Try to avoid foods which are too spicy
Try to avoid foods which are too spicy

Fast Foods and Menopause

Fast food is not the best choice at any age, but it can make the menopause worse for you. Fried and processed foods have a lot of fat and calories. As a result, they will increase weight gain in menopause. Besides, eating a lot of fast food can put you at risk for heart disease. Research has shown that women in menopause suffer more from coronary heart disease compared to premenopausal women (3). So, eating a lot of fatty, salty, and high in refined carbs food is bad for both your heart and your waistline.

If you do not find the time in your schedule to cook meals at home every day, try planning your meals ahead of time and cooking extra food during the weekend. Have you heard about meal planning? You can find a lot of information online about how to prepare quick and healthy meals for the week ahead. And you can easily freeze the leftovers. Packing lunch for work is much healthier for you, as you can also make salads, bring fruit, and use more whole products instead of processed ingredients found in fast foods.


(1) S. Davis et al. “Understanding weight gain at menopause.”

(2) R. Thurston et al. “Vasomotor symptoms and insulin resistance in the study of women's health across the nation.”

(3) T. Gordon et al. “Menopause and coronary heart disease: The Framingham study.”

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