Diet isn’t usually the first line of defense for treating menopause symptoms. Still, that doesn’t mean that the foods you eat don’t play a significant role in how you feel during this phase of life.
Crafting your diet with informed choices can help reduce inflammation, balance hormone levels, and even support relief for specific menopause symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes.
Plus, planning out your meals offers a comforting sense of self-care when it feels like your hormones are spinning out of control.
Here are a host of options for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for menopause support that are delicious and easy to follow. Let’s dig in!
Soy yogurt parfait
For years, rumors have swirled around soy’s potentially negative effects on hormones.
Don’t let the internet chatter fool you. Soy foods are actually a great choice during menopause.
“Soy-based foods contain phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that mimic estrogen in the body,” said Julie Pace, RDN, who specializes in functional nutrition for women.
Estrogen levels decline during menopause, leading to symptoms like hot flashes and mood changes.
“Phytoestrogens can help alleviate these symptoms by providing a mild estrogenic effect,” said Pace
Whip up a soy-based parfait for breakfast by mixing 1 tub soy yogurt, 1/2 cup of berries of your choice, and 2 tablespoons (tbsp) walnut pieces.
Nutty flaxseed and berry smoothie
Ground flaxseeds contain lignans, a type of phytoestrogen, which means they can help turn down the heat of menopause. A 2019 study found that eating these seeds had positive effects on menopause symptoms like hot flashes.
Reap their benefits at breakfast by blending:
- 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
- 1/2 a frozen banana
- 1 cup milk of your choice
- 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
- 1 tbsp nut butter
Top with a dusting of cinnamon or nutmeg.
Whole wheat avocado toast
Morning decreases in estrogen
Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND, of Menopause Better, suggests easing morning nerves by mashing some eggy avocado toast.
“This breakfast has both protein and healthy fats, which can decrease morning anxiety,” she says.
Toast your bread to your liking and spread half a ripe avocado over the toast. Then top the whole thing with an over-hard fried egg.
Green salad with turmeric-lemon dressing and salmon
Forgetfulness and brain fog can be common in menopause as hormones ebb and flow. A dose of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, may help.
“Curcumin may help improve memory by lowering brain inflammation,” said Escobar.
Add the inflammation-fighting benefits of curcumin to a fresh green salad topped with baked salmon. Remember to add black pepper to reap the benefits of curcumin.
Add four salmon filets to a baking dish. In a small bowl, mix 1 tbsp lemon juice, 2 teaspoons (tsp) garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon over the salmon and bake for 15 minutes at 400°F.
As a side, grab a bag of mixed salad greens from the store. Escobar recommends the following lemon-turmeric dressing for drizzling:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tbsp finely chopped shallot
- 1 tsp or more black pepper
- salt, to taste
Southwestern baked sweet potato
A baked sweet potato not only packs well for an on-the-go lunch — it’s got plenty of fiber to fight menopause constipation.
A sprinkle of pumpkin seeds finishes things off with vitamin E and magnesium.
“Vitamin E may help to reduce hot flashes and support skin health during menopause,” said Pace. “Magnesium can help with muscle relaxation, improve sleep, and reduce anxiety.”
Bake a sweet potato until tender. An hour at 425°F is usually sufficient. Once it’s cooled, top with rinsed, drained black beans (more fiber!), salsa, and avocado slices. Sprinkle pumpkin seeds on top to your liking.
Vegan sushi bowl
Believe it or not, sushi doesn’t have to contain fish! Try a nutrient-rich, menopause-supporting sushi bowl that’s totally plant-based.
You can create a hormone-friendly lunch with a few simple ingredients. The estrogenic effects of edamame and sesame seeds may help tame hot flashes, while the quinoa and vegetables round out the dish’s fiber content.
Begin with a bed of cooked quinoa, then add steamed edamame, avocado slices, sesame seeds, cucumber, and any other vegetables you favor. A topping of crispy fried onions or a cashew-based cream sauce to complete the vegan picture.
Beef meatballs with flaxseed
If your perimenopause journey has you menstruating for lengthy stretches, you may be at risk of iron-deficiency anemia.
Adding iron-rich beef to your diet can help restore your energy levels. (And if you add flaxseeds to the mix, you’ll amp up phytoestrogens for even more menopause support.)
These hidden-flaxseed meatballs are a winning combination that serves four.
Mix the following in a large bowl:
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 egg white
- 1/3 cup ground flaxseed
- 3 tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
Form into 1-inch balls and bake on a greased baking sheet in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes or until meatballs reach an internal temperature of 145°F.
Tofu vegetable stirfry
Need more evidence that soy is a ticket to menopausal health? A 2021 study revealed that a plant-based diet rich in soy reduced moderate-to-severe hot flashes by 84%. Over the course of the 12-week study, nearly 60% of participants eliminated moderate-to-severe hot flashes.
Stick with soy by enjoying a simple, single-serving tofu vegetable stirfry for dinner.
Sauté 3 oz cubed extra-firm tofu in 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil until browned, then add veggies of your choice (bell peppers, broccoli, onions, or cauliflower, to name a few). Splash on your favorite store-bought or homemade stirfry marinade and serve over 1 cup of cooked brown rice.
Salmon, beans, and greens
You’ve probably heard about the inflammation-fighting benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Their potential for busting inflammation on a systemic level may help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause.
“Menopause itself is an inflammatory process, and the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids from fish can help reduce inflammation,” said Escobar.
Make the salmon:
Drizzle a salmon filet with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Bake at 425°F for about 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.
Make the side:
- Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add 2 cloves minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Add 2 cups chopped kale and 1/2 cup rinsed, drained white beans.
- Cook until the beans are heated through and the kale has wilted.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve salmon atop kale and beans.
Curry turmeric popcorn
Turmeric is more versatile than you might think. How about trying its anti-inflammatory zing on popcorn?
For a savory snack, pop a bag of plain microwave popcorn and transfer to a large bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
Drizzle the oil mixture over the popcorn, stirring well to coat.
Chia seed pudding
Chia seeds earn their “superfood” title by packing an abundance of nutrients into an itty-bitty package. It just so happens that many of these nutrients may help relieve menopause symptoms.
At snack time or dessert, amp up your nutrition with an easy chia seed pudding.
- Place 2 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 1 tsp maple syrup to a Mason jar.
- Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Finish it off with your favorite berries, peach slices, chocolate chips, or nuts.
Morning, noon, or night, edamame is an excellent anytime snack for menopause!
Its phytoestrogens can prevent or reduce the severity of hot flashes, while its fiber content (
Snag a microwaveable frozen bag of edamame and steam according to package directions, or pick up a ready-to-eat vacuum-sealed pack.
Maca peanut butter energy balls
Maca root is a Peruvian adaptogen that’s been studied for its ability to calm multiple menopause symptoms.
A 2022 systematic review concluded that maca root may have significant effects on menopause-related problems, including memory impairment, depression, and bone structure changes.
If you’re new to using maca root in recipes, start small with these simple energy balls.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 cup pitted Medjool dates, 1 cup walnuts, and 1/2 cup peanut butter. Process until the nuts are finely chopped.
- Add 3 tbsp maca powder, 3/4 cup rolled oats, and 2 tbsp water. Process until smooth and malleable.
- Form into 1-inch balls and store in the refrigerator.
Dark chocolate-covered strawberries
It’s not uncommon to crave sweets when your hormones are all over the map. Satisfy a sweet tooth with dark chocolate-covered strawberries. The antioxidants in chocolate have been
Dip washed, dried whole strawberries into your favorite melted chocolate chips. Pace recommends a 70% or higher cacao level for mood enhancement. Let the chocolate harden before eating — if you can wait that long!
No one ever said going through menopause was fun, but taking charge of your diet can provide a sense of empowerment for your hormone health.
A few informed food choices can see you through the journey with better nutrition, fewer physical symptoms, and a sunnier outlook.