Menopause supporting foods

Menopause supporting foods

We’ve teamed up with Inspire Wellbeing and Nutrition Advisor, Sal Hanvey to provide a series of delicious and healthy meals as part of #FoodFriday. This month, Sal takes us through foods that can support those going through Menopause.

What is Menopause, and when does it happen?

Menopause is the time that marks the end of your menstrual cycles. It’s diagnosed after you’ve gone 12 months without a menstrual period. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s, but the average age is 51. Menopause is a natural biological process. However, the physical symptoms, such as hot flushes, and emotional symptoms of menopause may disrupt your sleep, lower your energy or affect emotional health. Symptoms can include:


  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Hot flushes
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Sleep problems
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain and slowed metabolism
  • Thinning hair and dry skin
  • Loss of breast fullness
  • Recurring UTI’s

Peri menopause

Peri Menopause is the stage leading up to the change. It is the time the body makes the natural transition into menopause. Symptoms can include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Worse premenstrual syndrome
  • Lower sex drive
  • Fatigue
  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness; discomfort during sex
  • Urine leakage when coughing or sneezing
  • Hot flushes

Things to avoid to help symptoms:

  • Smoking and inhaling second hand smoke
  • Wearing tight, restrictive clothing
  • Using heavy blankets or sheets on your bed
  • Drinking alcohol and caffeine
  • Eating spicy foods
  • Being in warm rooms
  • Experiencing excess stress



Tests that your doctor can provide to give you a better indication of menopausal and peri menopausal status:

  • LH- Luteinising hormone
  • FSH- Follicle stimulating hormone
  • Oestrogen Levels
  • Thyroid profile- to include:
  • fT4- Free Thyroxine 4
  • TSH- Thyroid Stimulating hormone
  • LFT- Liver Function test
  • U+E- Urea and Electrolyte test (Kidney Function)

Hot Flushes:

If you get hot flushes and night sweats, you’re not alone. It’s estimated that up to 75% of women in peri menopausal or menopausal stages of life in the UK report experiencing them.

They’re your body’s reactions to the hormonal changes associated with peri menopause and menopause. While it’s not guaranteed that following a specific lifestyle will prevent these symptoms, there are some easy things you can try:

  • Reduce the temperature in your bedroom
  • Turn on a fan
  • Use lighter sheets and blankets
  • Removing layers of clothing or changing into cool clothes made of natural cotton on linens
  • Using Cooling gels and sprays or pillows
  • Sipping cool water, from a jug with ice
  • Slowing and deepening your breathing to help your body relax

Just Breathe. Use this simple technique to help you relax:

  • Empty the lungs of air
  • Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
  • Hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
  • Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and -making a “whoosh” sound, for 8 seconds
  • Repeat the cycle up to 4 times


Conventional menopause treatments

Conventional treatment centres around hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This includes tablets, skin patches, gels and implants that relieve menopausal symptoms by replacing oestrogen.


However, functional medicine does recognise that menopausal symptoms aren’t just all about oestrogen……..

High levels of stress hormones and a drop in blood sugar can also trigger symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats and mood changes. Working to support the adrenal glands, reduce stress and restore blood sugar balance through a healthy diet can go a long way to mitigating the effects of the menopause.

In order to make and correctly process hormones, we need a range of nutrients from magnesium to B vitamins, antioxidants.  Many women will find that simply improving their diets can make them feel better!

It’s vital to ensure the body has all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients it needs to deal with the challenges of the hormonal shift. Here’s other foods I suggest:

Supporting the Adrenal System

Find a balance between:

  • EFA’s- Essential fatty acids
  • Proteins
  • Complex & Nutrient dense Carbohydrates

Foods rich in magnesium

  • pumpkin seed
  • almonds, dry roasted
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • peanuts, peanut butter
  • soy milk
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • dark chocolate (60-69% cocoa)
  • bread, whole wheat
  • avocado
  • potatoes
  • brown rice
  • salmon
  • broccoli
  • apple
  • carrot

Foods rich in vitamin C

  • cherries
  • rose hips
  • elderberry
  • chilli peppers
  • sweet yellow peppers
  • blackcurrants
  • melon
  • parsley
  • mustard spinach
  • kale
  • kiwi
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • lemons
  • oranges

Foods rich in EFA’s (essential fatty acids)

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Avocado
  • Sardines
  • Flaxseed
  • Extra Virgin, cold pressed Olive Oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Walnuts

Foods rich in complex and nutrient dense carbohydrates

  • millet
  • chick peas
  • oats
  • barley
  • sweet potato
  • spelt
  • butternut squash
  • potatoes
  • kamut
  • black beans
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • green peas

Foods rich in B vitamins

  • salmon
  • leafy greens
  • organ meats
  • eggs
  • milk
  • beef
  • legumes
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • yoghurt
  • nutritional yeast
  • sunflower seeds

Foods rich in proteins

  • Lean meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, kangaroo
  • Poultry – chicken, turkey, duck, emu, goose, bush birds
  • Fish and seafood – fish, prawns, crab, lobster, mussels, oysters, scallops, clams
  • Eggs
  • Dairy products – milk, yoghurt (especially Greek yoghurt), cheese (especially cottage cheese)
  • Nuts (including nut pastes) and seeds – almonds, pine nuts, walnuts, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
  • Legumes and beans – all beans, lentils, chickpeas, split peas, tofu



Sal Hanvey

Sal Hanvey

About Sal Hanvey

Sal Hanvey is an award winning Nutrition Consultant. She has a real passion for finding ingredient substitutes and alternatives for those people with food intolerances, or allergies, without compromising on nutritional value or taste.

Sal writes for various publications around the subjects of nutrition and well-being. Sal offers ‘Stir Crazy’ cook-a-long classes online to help people to connect, or re-connect to the universal language that we all know and love- to enjoy good food. The classes are interactive, live and very much nutrition led.


Change your mind logo

This series of #FoodFriday is kindly supported by Inspire Wellbeing and the Change Your Mind programme. Change Your Mind It is a joint programme run by Inspire and the Public Health Agency. It is Northern Ireland’s regional campaign to tackle stigma and discrimination around mental health. They are funded by Comic Relief and work in partnership with a range of organisations and community networks across Northern Ireland.

They are a grassroots campaign shaped by the collaboration of communities, organisations and individuals who are championing the message against mental health stigma across society – a campaign for people, driven by people. Read more here.