Nutrition Tips to Keep You Healthy Through Menopause

by Robin Elise Weiss, Ph.D. Health Professional

Menopause is an important time in your life when it comes to nutrition, but unfortunately, nutrition is something women often neglect. Fewer than 1 percent of women in a recent study had a diet that was considered nutritionally adequate. Researchers also found that more than 90 percent of women had an expanding waistline during menopause. This puts you at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and potential heart problems. Read on to learn how you can improve your nutrition during this stage of life.

Menopause aged woman exercising with weights.

Menopause risk is more than just weight gain

While it’s fairly common knowledge that you’re more likely to gain weight once you enter menopause, you may not know that the fat deposits you put down in your body during this life stage are distributed differently. This difference in fat distribution adds to the risks associated with menopause when it comes to heart disease. This knowledge can help you as you’re planning meals, exercise, and your lifestyle in general.

Garlic and rosemary in a pan.

Protect your bones during menopause with diet

Menopause can really alter your bone mineral density, putting you at a greater risk of fractures. The good news is that by eating certain fruits and vegetables, you can actually decrease this risk. One study says you can alleviate some of these problems by eating a diet that includes things like garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme, and dill. You should also consider adding green beans, cucumbers, broccoli, lettuce, prunes, oranges, and tomatoes to your diet to help with bone resorption inhibition.

Menopause aged woman getting vitamin D through sunshine.

Vitamin D and calcium are vital in menopause

While it is important to have adequate vitamin D and calcium intake, fewer than 4 percent of postmenopausal women had enough in their diet, according to one study. However, the Institute of Medicine disputes this claim and says most people get enough vitamin D and calcium from their diets alone. Taking these as supplements also may come with risks; you may have a higher risk of renal stones or increased cardiac risk. Be sure to talk to your provider before using supplements.

Healthy Buddha bowl for a menopause diet.

Soy foods and menopause

Soy foods are readily found in many places these days. For post-menopausal women, soy foods can actually be beneficial in your diet. Soy contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and is low in saturated fat. Soy products can reduce your risk of heart disease and help stave off hot flashes. While some have been concerned about soy food consumption post-breast cancer, research has found that there was a 25 percent decrease in the occurrence of tumors with a higher soy intake.

Foods with carbohydrates for a menopause diet.

Carbohydrates during menopause

Carbohydrates are a common source of energy. However, one study showed that if you had a sedentary lifestyle (fewer than 6,000 steps a day) and got more than 55 percent of your daily calories from carbs, you increased not only your waist size but your risk of a cardiac event. When choosing carbs, be sure to look at how they are prepared and look for complex carbohydrates. Keep in mind that carbs are not your enemy.

Salad with roast beef for iron in a menopause diet.

Iron deficiency and menopause

The good news is that the vast majority of women who are postmenopausal and under 65 are not anemic, and those who are don’t suffer due to dietary issues for the most part. If you’re worried about anemia, be sure to look at good sources of iron in your diet like green leafy vegetables, legumes, iron-fortified cereals, and lean red meats. Eat your iron-filled foods with vitamin C to help absorb the iron, and avoid calcium-containing foods or supplements in the same meal. Even cooking with a cast iron skillet can help.

Senior couple drinking white wine with a healthy salad.

Alcohol and menopause

Moderate alcohol intake can actually positively affect bone mineral density. Moderate intake is defined as 0.5-2 drinks per day. Research has found that women who drink moderately had higher bone mineral density than those who didn’t drink and those who drank more. However, you should also consider that alcohol has been found to increase breast cancer risk.

Menopausal woman preparing a salad.

Studies on menopause and diet are lacking

It’s important to know that studies on negative effects during menopause like weight gain and the increase in abdominal fat tend to be of poor quality. To get a clearer picture of women’s health at menopause, we need more data from studies that use consistent terminology and are sensitive to cultural issues, socioeconomic issues, and other differences that may make an impact during menopause. Studies should also be of adequate length to be able to be useful to women.

Menopause aged women eating a nutritious meal together and drinking wine.

Keep nutrition top of mind as you age

Nutrition is just as important as you age as it has been all your life, so don’t let menopause be when you stop paying attention. Understand that your nutrient needs may be different during this time, but that you have a delightful world of fun and flavor to choose from as you leave behind the many restrictions that may have plagued you during your reproductive years. With a few small changes, you can have a healthy and amazing diet filled with great foods to keep your body and mind healthy.

Robin Elise Weiss, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Robin Elise Weiss, Ph.D.

Robin Elise Weiss, Ph.D., LCCE, CLC, AdvCD(DONA) is a childbirth educator, doula, founder of, and the award-winning pregnancy and parenting author of “The Complete Illustrated Guide to Pregnancy” and more than 10 other books. Between her nine children, teaching childbirth classes, and attending births for more than two decades, she has built up an impressive and practical knowledge base. You can follow Robin on Twitter @RobinPregnancy, Instagram @Robineliseweiss, and Facebook @childbirthtrainings.