Healthy Eating And Diet During The Menopause

Making minor changes to your diet during and after menopause can help to boost your general health, reduce the risk of complications and ease symptoms. The hormonal changes, which take place before and during perimenopause and menopause, may affect your weight and the strength and density of your bones; it is therefore very important to keep an eye on your diet and ensure that it provides you with all the nutrients you need.

Keeping your weight stable

Menopause can cause you to gain weight due to changes in your appetite and changes in muscle mass, but keeping tabs on your diet and ensuring your diet is healthy and balanced will help to reduce the risk of putting on weight and keep your BMI stable and healthy. In order to prevent weight gain (if you have a normal BMI or you are overweight), you should follow these simple steps:

  • monitor the amount of calories you consume per day; ideally, women should take in around 1,700-2,000 calories per day dependent on their activity levels
  • cut down the amount of sugar, salt and saturated fat you eat
  • try to cook at home, as convenience food is often high in saturated fats and sugar
  • use healthy cooking methods, such as grilling and baking, rather than frying
  • stick to suggested portion sizes

Adding healthy foods to your diet

Certain foods are really good for you, so try to include them in your diet and ensure that your daily meals provide you with all the food groups and the vitamins and minerals you need. Examples of foods to try and include in your diet include:

  • fruit and vegetables: try to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day
  • foods that contain calcium, such as milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • oily fish; aim for 2 portions per week; good examples include salmon, mackerel and sardines
  • lean meat and poultry
  • fresh fish
  • fibre-rich foods, such as pulses, vegetables and wholegrain cereals

Calcium and the menopause

Bone density decreases as you get older but around the menopause hormonal changes and a loss of oestrogen accelerate weakness in the bones and there is an increased risk of osteoporosis, also known as weak or brittle bones. Calcium stores become depleted in the bones and you will need to make sure that you take in the recommended amount of calcium per day to keep your bones healthy and strong. Good sources of calcium include:

  • milk
  • cheese
  • yoghurt
  • leafy green vegetables, including kale and broccoli
  • tofu
  • sardines
  • enriched and fortified breads and cereals
  • soya milk

You should be able to get enough calcium from your diet, but if you worry that you're not getting enough, see your GP. If you need more calcium, it is possible to take calcium supplements, but you should consult a doctor first.

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