Eat These Foods Right Now
Blanket on, blanket off. Thermostat up, thermostat down. And that was just last night. Today, you've yelled at the dog, eaten most of the pantry, fought a migraine, and realized your pants won't zip.
Traveling through "the change" isn't usually on everyone's bucket list of must-take journeys…but whether you like it or not, the trip's on the calendar. And you can make the passage a lot more pleasant by packing food that doesn't pack on the pounds, or the nasty symptoms. From hot flashes and night sweats to mood swings and weight gain, a smart and targeted diet is basically your GPS to feeling good during this time of hormonal upheaval. "Think of food as medicine," says Dr. Nina Ali, M.D., an OB/GYN and menopause specialist at Texas Children's Hospital Pavilion For Women. "The ingredients you take in are what your body uses to function and to maintain your health." (Remember, though: It's important to always consult your own physician before starting any new diet plan.)
Here's your rule-of-thumb checklist:
Research shows that calcium and Vitamin D not only strengthen bones and ward off osteoarthritis, but may also help avoid weight gain by stimulating the breakdown of fat cells and suppressing the development of new ones.
To try: low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, calcium-stocked orange juice, broccoli, tofu, and sardines.
Vitamin B-rich foods…
You might think a cupcake's the antidote to a mood swing, but you're better off with plenty of B; not getting enough of this important nutrient has been found to cause depression.
To try: lean meat and poultry, lentils, and whole grains.
Omega 3-rich foods…
Studies show that diets packed with these good-for-you fats may actually reduce hot flashes--minus your blanket and thermostat maneuvers.
To try: oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines, as well as flaxseeds and flaxseed oil.
No magic bullet here: Healthy fiber is a well-known weight-loss tool thanks to its ability to fill you up and keep you feeling full as the day progresses. (By adding it to your diet, you'll have less room for cheese pizza and peanut butter cups.)
To try: whole grain cereals and breads, brown rice, beans, apples with skin, broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.
Certain plant-based antioxidants--some are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their deep, rich color--have been found to ease hot flashes in menopausal women.
To try: soy and soy proteins, strawberries, raspberries, and blue berries.
Hillary Quinn is a national lifestyle writer, whose work has appeared in many magazines, newspapers, and websites, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, and Brides.