As we gear up for the festive season, women entering menopause are keeping a close eye on their health. 

Menopause brings hormonal shifts and potential weight gain, demanding informed choices about what lands on our plates. 

Expert research sheds light on foods to consider avoiding or consuming in moderation during menopause to support overall health.

While being mindful of these foods, it’s crucial to recognise that individual responses to specific foods can vary.

Lauren Au, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of California, Davis, says: “When I cook, I limit sodium and add it to taste after it’s cooked.”

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1. Red Meat and Processed Meat

Red meat, especially when heavily processed, can be high in saturated fats, posing potential concerns for heart health. 

Leaner protein sources such as poultry, fish, tofu, or plant-based options can be healthier alternatives to incorporate during the festive season.

2. Deep-Fried Products:

Fried foods often contain trans fats, which can elevate bad cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease. Choosing cooking methods like grilling, baking, or steaming instead can contribute to a heart-healthy diet.

3. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Sugary drinks, including fizzy drinks and certain fruit juices, may lead to weight gain and negatively impact blood sugar levels. 

Opting for water, herbal teas, or unsweetened beverages can be healthier alternatives to stay hydrated during the festive celebrations.

4. Foods High in Phytates

While nutritious, some foods like spinach, Swiss chard, and whole grains contain phytates that may hinder calcium absorption.

Balancing these foods with calcium-rich options and maintaining a varied diet can ensure optimal nutritional intake.

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5. Spicy Food

For some women, spicy foods may trigger or exacerbate hot flashes during menopause. If spicy foods worsen menopausal symptoms, limiting their intake can be a practical strategy.

6. Alcohol

Excessive alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and potentially worsen menopausal symptoms such as night sweats and mood swings. 

Opting for moderation and limiting alcohol intake can contribute to better overall well-being.

7. Caffeine

Caffeine, found in coffee and certain teas, can interfere with sleep quality, a concern for many menopausal women. 

Reducing caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening, can support better sleep during the festive season.

Beyond food, managing menopausal weight gain requires an active stance on life. 

According to Laura Bellows, an associate professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell University, there are: “No bad foods, only bad quantities – keep portions in check and fuel your health.”

As we step into the festive season, success lies in a holistic approach – both in what’s on our plates and the lifestyle adjustments we make.

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