Healthy Ageing

Five foods to avoid during menopause

Meyken Houppermans, PhD. CrossFit Level 3 Trainer.
Founder and Head Coach
Food affects menopausal symptoms and hormonal disbalances. Five foods to avoid.

Hormonal symptoms

Menopausal transition can start as early as the age of 35. Hot flashes, night sweats, altered periods, dry skin, stiff muscles, sore joints and bladder infection are well known symptoms. The decline in female hormones and especially the fluctiations during menopausal transition can cause a variety of symptoms, often not related to the changes in the female body. (Hormones and vague symptoms)

Of the 8.6 million women in The Netherlands, about 80% experience menopausal symptoms at one point in life. For 30% these symptoms negatively affect the quality of daily life. In the end, only 2 to 3% seeks medical help, or asks for assistence for example at work. Lack of awareness of the severity of menopausal symptoms among women themselves, and among health professionals, employers and society in general, might explain this suffering in silence.


Menopausal symptoms can be treated with medical (hormonal) treatment and lifestyle adjustments such as daily exercise and strength training (CrossFit, a cure for menopause), stress recuction and nutritional adjustment. Food can effect menopausal symptoms. One explanation is that hormones play a great rol in the digestion and absorption of nutrients by the body.

All hormones in the human body are interrelated and influence each other. What that exact influence and connection between hormones is, is not yet fully clear in science, but that this is the case, is clear. Furthermore, the fluctuations in female hormones, makes the female body more sensitive for other hormones. This is one explanation for negative affect of stress on menopausal symptoms. Stress increases the hormone cortisol, which affects menopausal symptoms. Foods to avoid:

1. Sugar

Sugar intake increases the hormone insulin, which can disrupt hormonal balance, worsen menopausal symptoms can increase the risk of bladder infection. Avoid white rice, white flower, honey, table sugar, cookies and processed food. (Health risks of lots of fruit).

2. Processed food

Processed food often contain high amounts of fat, sugar and salt. This can aggravate menopausal symptoms. (How artificial is your food?)

3. Alcohol, cafeïne, spicy herbs and sauces

Alcohol, coffee and spicy herbs and sauces can worsen hot flashes and night sweats. 

4. Transfats

Products such as pastries, cakes, puff pastry, potato chips, fries, coffee creamer, ready meals and pizza all contain transfats. Transfat increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. This risk is already increased by factor 4 during menopause.

5. Foods and drinks in plastic

Plastic can contain substances that can disrupt hormone balance, such as bisphenol-A. Avoid drinking water from plastic bottles too many times.

Healthy lifestyle and healthy weight

In general, a healthy lifestyle with daily exercise and a (mostly) plant- based diet all help to reduce menopausal symptoms and maintain a healthy weight (The benefits of soy for women). A weight gain of two to three kilograms during the menopausal transition is natural but more than that is unnecessary and preventable with the right lifestyle adjustments.

Create your own health!©