Weight gain and a slower metabolic rate is common in menopause due to the natural aging process and fluctuations in estrogen. Also, an increase in testosterone is one reason for the decreased sex drive. Menopause is a clear sign that your body is changing, and women in menopause tend to
Move less and eat more calories than needed.
Experience an increase in abdominal fat.
Lose muscle mass, which is more metabolically active tissue.
Experience mood swings and depression because estrogen levels impact the amount of the feel-good chemical serotonin.
Whether to engage in hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a personal decision between you and your doctor. Although HRT can reduce symptoms of menopause, it may also increase your risk for stroke and cancer.
You can’t just blame your hormones and give up any hope of feeling good during this stage in your life. Poor eating habits can exacerbate the symptoms you experience. Nutritious foods and exercise help improve your mood and your metabolic rate. With menopause, these nutrients may help reduce side effects:
Vitamins E and C are powerful antioxidants that can lessen hot flashes, reduce irritability and anxiety, and boost your energy levels.
Vitamin E is routinely prescribed for menopausal patients in supplement form of 400–800 IU. You can also find it in vitamin E–rich foods like nuts, wheat germ, green leafy vegetables, and tropical fruits.
Calcium and vitamin D are important to ward off osteoporosis because fluctuating estrogen decreases bone density. In menopause, aim for 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day.
Soy isoflavones are phytoestrogens, so named because they can mimic estrogen and actually help reduce side effects like hot flashes. However, conflicting studies have also shown that taking too much of these may promote cancer growth. Instead of taking supplements, choose foods rich in soy like edamame, soy milk, soy nuts, miso, tofu, and tempeh.
Complex carbohydrate and fiber help keep your energy levels high and your body satisfied. You may crave more carbohydrates and sweets when your serotonin drops. Many carbohydrates affect your tryptophan levels in the blood, a precursor for serotonin, so choosing high-fiber foods like whole grains can help stave off cravings, improve your health overall, and help with weight loss. These foods also help you get a good night’s sleep, which can be difficult during menopause.
Fight the bloat! Many women experience bloating during menopause which may be eased by the following:
Decreasing salty foods: Choose salt-free herbs and spices to flavor foods and watch your consumption of processed, prepared foods, cured meats and cheese. Check the sodium on all condiments. When out to eat, ask for sauces on the side to help control and reduce the amount, and never be ashamed to ask your waiter to request food be prepped sans salt.
Monitoring your alcohol intake: Bloating is a common after-effect of alcohol, and alcohol is a trigger for hot flashes. Stick to one drink per day or less.
Don’t skimp on water: You may be tempted not to drink water because you feel that’ll cause you to be more bloated. That’s not necessarily the case — water can actually help flush out your system and keep you hydrated and your energy high.