Superfoods & Diet Recommendations To Soothe Your Menopause Transition
It’s challenging to eat healthy food during any season, but winter can make it especially difficult. Any hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep loss we were feeling can easily compound the indulgence of holiday treats, cold weather, and a lack of daylight, not to mention overall holiday stress. It’s a perfect winter storm of temptation lulling us into the arms of our favorite comfort foods. But the weather isn’t the only element making it harder to eat healthily. Taking care of ailing parents, encountering new health problems, family stresses, or a low mood as a result of decreasing estrogen levels may all have unseen effects on our eating habits.1 Thankfully, there are several nutrition tips to help you decide which foods to eat and which to avoid during menopause, to help this transition go as smoothly as possible and keep you feeling your best.
The Best Superfoods To Eat During Menopause
Superfoods are “super” because they provide more than just nutrients. These bioactive foods are rich in nutrients and contain other beneficial compounds such as antioxidants, fiber, and important fatty acids.2 Any of these tasty superfoods make a great addition for a menopause-friendly meal:
Which Foods And Drinks To Avoid During Menopause
You may already know it’s best to avoid hot or warming beverages during menopause, as we’ve got enough internal temperature disruptions to worry about. Here are a few other key foods and drinks to avoid during menopause:
A healthy diet is all about variety and moderation. You can still enjoy your favorite winter comfort foods so long as they’re viewed as treats rather than a regular indulgence.
A Few Key Nutrients To Note During Menopause
While we need essential vitamins and minerals throughout our lives to maintain health, menopause put more stress than normal on the body and can, therefore, present some unique needs. Because estrogen fuels many biological processes in our bodies, the decline of this critically important hormone can affect a range of things in the body, including how well our digestive system absorbs and processes the nutrients we eat in our diet.
There are four nutrients, in particular, to keep an eye on as we age and go through menopause: vitamin B12, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin D. Each play a specific role in our health and are found in varying quantities in our food. There are a few reasons why these particular four stand out:
Read more on our post “The 6 Game-Changing Nutrients For Your Changing Body.”
Superfood Recipes For A Super Plate
Variety is the key to a healthy diet at any age, and that remains especially true during menopause. Eating a range of nutrient-dense foods—from legumes and vegetables to fruits, whole grains, and proteins—will help our bodies adjust to life’s changes. Try expanding your usual choices and aim for a new bright and colorful plate.
Pearl Barley & Cacao Breakfast Porridge3
Although porridge is often a breakfast food, this tasty superfood centric treat makes for a lovely meal any time of day. Use 1 tablespoon of cocoa powder instead of cacao if that’s easier, or sub for dairy-free milk.
- Place water and pearl barley in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over low heat and cook for 20–25 minutes, or until soft and plump. Strain excess water away through a sieve.
- Place ¼ cup of the milk and cacao powder (or cocoa, see note above) into the saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring, until the mixture is combined.
- In another saucepan, bring the remaining ¾ cup of milk and cooked barley to boil.
- Transfer warmed barley to your serving bowl, drizzle with cacao milk and enjoy! (Top with a banana, some fresh blueberries, a few crushed walnuts or even dusting of cocoa powder).
Cozy Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts4
How do you get enough garlic in your diet to make a difference? Roast a bunch of tasty veggies such as brussels sprouts, or zucchini noodles with minced garlic and balance it all out with some grilled wild salmon to make sure you get your heart and brain-healthy Omega 3 fats. If you don’t feel like dealing with the heat from an oven, you cut the recipe in half and use a toaster oven or air fryer instead. The best part about this meal is that while it’s hot and hearty, it cools off rather quickly and won’t warm you up too much. It makes great leftovers too, for lunch the next day, so don’t hesitate to make an extra big piece of salmon.
Ready in 45 mins
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Mince 2 garlic cloves and combine in a small bowl with oil, 1 tablespoon oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Halve the remaining garlic and toss with Brussels sprouts and 3 tablespoons of the seasoned oil in a large roasting pan. Roast, stirring once, for 15 minutes.
- Add wine to the remaining oil mixture. Remove the pan from the oven, stir the vegetables and place salmon on top. Drizzle with the wine mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon oregano and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bake until the salmon is just cooked through, 5 to 10 minutes more. Serve with lemon wedges.
Super Berry, Mango, & Avocado Salad5
If you’re not in the mood to turn on the oven (especially after an uncomfortable hot flash), try out a quick refreshing seasonal salad. Plus, berries make for an excellent meal prep snack.
Ready in 10 mins
- Reserve 2/3 of the raspberries for the topping. Puree the remaining 1/3 of the raspberries with the oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a blender.
- Combine the greens, mango, avocado, and onions in a large bowl. Top with dressing and toss gently to coat. Divide the salad up among plates.
- Sprinkle your superfood salad with the toppings above and serve to enjoy!
It’s Never Too Late To Start Managing Menopause Symptoms
While it’s best to eat healthy foods most of your life, starting today or tomorrow is better than waiting until next week or next month. Whatever you decide to do, eating healthy is meant to be a fun and tasty experience. Try to expand your culinary options by trying new restaurants, inviting friends over to cook meals with new recipes, or experiment with a meal delivery service. Do whatever it takes to encourage trying new foods and reward yourself for tending to your nutritional needs. You deserve it!
- O'Connor, DL et al. "Canadian Consensus on Female Nutrition: Adolescence, Reproduction, Menopause, and Beyond." J Obstet Gynaecol Canada. 2016; 38(6): 508-54.e18
- Harvard School of Public Health. ”Superfoods or Superhype?” 2019. Accessed on December 17, 2019. <https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/superfoods/>
- Angell M. “Pearl Barley (+Cacao) Porridge.” 2019. Accessed on December 17, 2019. <https://wholesome-cook.com/2012/06/20/pearl-barley-cacao-porridge/ >
- Eating Well Test Kitchen. “Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussel Sprouts.” 2011. Accessed on December 17, 2019. <http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/252493/garlic-roasted-salmon-brussels-sprouts/>
- Office of Research Services – Offices Dietary Supplements : Safety, Health & Wellness Day. “Super Easy, Super Food Recipes.” 2013. Accessed on December 17, 2019. <https://www.ors.od.nih.gov/pes/dats/wellness/Documents/superfoods%20recipes.pdf >
- Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. “Magnesium”. Accessed on December 17, 2019. <https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/magnesium#food-sources>
- Ikonte, CJ et al. "Micronutrient Inadequacy in Short Sleep: Analysis of the NHANES 2005–2016." Nutrients. 2019; 11(10): 2335.
- Khadilkar SS. “The Emerging Role of Vitamin D3 in Women’s Health.” J Obstet Gynaecol India. 2013; 63(3):147-150.
- Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center. “Calcium”. Accessed on December 17, 2019. <https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/minerals/calcium#food-sources>