While it is not possible to avoid menopause altogether, you can avoid or lessen some of the physical changes many women experience, including weight gain and the potential for osteoporosis and other health complications.

Alison Massey is a registered dietician and Director of Diabetes Education at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. She teaches her patients who are approaching or past menopause that how they look and feel can be directly connected with their diets.

“Hormonal changes along with lifestyle choices mean that many women experience physical issues they may not have before," Massey says. "Many women are confused about what their nutritional and caloric needs really are. For example, women who’ve never struggled with weight management may suddenly find a few extra pounds creeping around their waistlines. Others are concerned about osteoporosis or their energy level or about getting enough iron. For all post-menopausal women, consuming a variety of healthy foods along with getting adequate exercise is essential for feeling great and aging well.”

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that, in general, post-menopausal women need about 200 fewer calories per day than they did before menopause. They also need at least 30 minutes of daily moderate exercise that includes cardio, weight bearing and flexibility training. But what foods should you eat and which should you avoid? Here are our top eight diet tips for menopausal women:

  • Watch Added Sugars, Fats, and Portions: Processed and packaged foods are often full of empty calories, sugars and fats, which can add pounds quickly even with small portions. Massey says, “Focus on eating more veggies and fruits and lean proteins and keep an eye on portion sizes.”
  • Add Low-Fat Dairy: “Low-fat dairy provides an excellent source of calcium for menopausal women. When combined with other calcium-rich foods and exercise these factors can help decrease risks for osteoporosis.” Low-fat dairy products may also help you stay fuller longer and may help you avoid snacking on junk.
  • Munch on Nuts: A handful of nuts can provide a great source of healthy fats, protein, essential vitamins, and fiber, but keep your serving size to one handful—nuts are very calorie dense.
  • Keep it Lean: Lean protein is essential for cell repair, stable blood sugar, strong muscles and keeping your metabolism burning energy all day long. Foods like chicken breasts, turkey, fish, tofu and other low-fat protein foods are good choices.
  • Go for Beans: Massey says, “Beans are an excellent source of protein, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. They add satiety that keeps you full without the added saturated fats of many animal proteins. Plus, they’re a heart-healthy food choice.”
  • Fatty Fish: Fatty fish like salmon and sardines are good sources of healthy fats. They also contain Vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium for bone health and they’re loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to heart health.
  • Add Flaxseed: Massey says, ”Flaxseed is an excellent source of lignans, which have been researched regarding their benefit in alleviating hot flash symptoms. They’re also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.”
  • Eat More Fruits and Veggies: Focus on incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet that are high in nutritional value, low in calories and have a high water content. Massey’s favorite water containing foods are strawberries, watermelon and cucumbers.

Talk to your physician, dietician or nutritionist for a customized food plan that will support you to be your healthiest for the years to come.

Allison Massey, MS, RD, LDN, CDE reviewed this article.


Eating Right During Menopause. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. January 21, 2015. Accessed, September 11, 2015.

"Menopause and Weight Gain." Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. July 16, 2015. Accessed, September 11, 2015.

Massey, Allison MS, RD, LDN, CDE, Director of Diabetes Education, Mercy Medical Center. Interviewed on September 9, 2015.