Menopause is a normal part of aging for women and begins at the time of your last period. As your hormone levels decrease, you may find it harder to maintain a healthy weight, increasing your risk of heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. Following a healthy diet that includes more low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods can help you meet your nutrient needs and help you balance your intake for weight control.
As you reach age 40, you need to eat about 200 calories less a day to maintain your weight, according to the American Dietetic Association. Following a calorie-controlled diet can help you balance your intake for better weight control. Most menopausal women can maintain a healthy weight following a 1,600-calorie diet plan. To meet your nutrient needs on a calorie-controlled meal plan, eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups. A balanced 1,600-calorie meal plan should include 4 cups of fruits and vegetables, five servings from the grain group, 5 ounces of meat or beans, three servings from the dairy group and 5 teaspoons of oil or its fat equivalent. Divide your food options among three meals and two snacks. Eating smaller meals with regular snacks can help you burn calories more efficiently and control your hunger.
Make time for breakfast. Skipping meals, especially the first meal of the day, can cause you to overeat later and decrease your metabolism. A balanced breakfast should include foods from as many food groups as possible. Aim for 1/2 cup of fruit, one serving from the grain group, 1 ounce of meat or beans, one serving from the dairy group and 1 tsp. of oil or its fat equivalent. A sample meal idea includes 1/2 of a whole-wheat English muffin topped with one egg cooked in 1 tsp. of oil and 1 1/2 ounce of low-fat cheese, served with 1/2 cup of calcium-fortified orange juice. Make sure you include calcium-rich foods in your diet. Without estrogen, your rate of bone loss increases along with your risk of osteoporosis. Menopausal women need 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day.
Make healthy snack choices by including low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods such as fresh fruits and nonfat dairy products. A good morning snack may include 1/2 cup of fruit and one serving of a dairy product, such as a small banana with one container of nonfat yogurt.
A balanced lunch menu should include 1/2 cup of fruit, 1 cup of vegetables, two servings from the grain group, 2 ounces of meat or beans and 1 tsp. of oil. For lunch, you may have 1/2 cup of hummus stuffed into a small, whole-wheat pita with lettuce, tomatoes and alfalfa sprouts. Serve your lunch with 1/2 cup of fresh fruit cup and 2 cups of mixed greens topped with 1 tablespoon of salad dressing. Phytoestrogens are a plant-based estrogen that may work as a weak form of estrogen in the body. Food sources include soy products, whole grains, vegetables and legumes. The benefits of including phytoestrogen-rich foods in your diet is not clear, and the National Institute on Aging suggests consulting with your doctor before increasing your intake of these foods.
A healthy afternoon snack should consist of 1/2 cup of fruit, one serving from the grain group and 1 tsp. of oil. A sample snack idea includes five whole-grain crackers with 1 1/2 tsp. of peanut butter served with 1/2 cup of fresh apple slices. Including more fiber in your diet, from foods like whole grains and fresh fruit, can help you better manage your hunger in relation to weight control.
Your calorie-controlled dinner meal should include 1 1/2 cups of vegetables, one serving from the grain group, 2 ounces of meat or beans, one serving from the dairy group and 2 tsp. of oil. For dinner, you may have 2 ounces of grilled salmon served with 1/2 cup of whole-wheat couscous and 1 1/2 cups of spinach sauteed in 2 tsp. of oil. Risk of heart disease increases once you hit menopause. Including more omega-3-rich foods, like salmon, can lower your blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease.