5 Foods That Contribute To Menopause Belly

Somewhere in that 45-55 age range, it happens. You may have heard to it as “the change,”  and that is not a bad term necessarily, considering your body will be going through many changes.  At times these changes can pack a pretty big punch and leave you feeling like nothing you do has any positive impact in helping to reduce some of your symptoms or how they are making you feel.

In all my years as a holistic health practitioner, working with women and supporting them as they transition through menopause, one of the biggest frustrations I hear repeatedly is the struggle with “menopause belly.”  No matter what, it seems that every woman who walks through my door is at her wits end and feeling hopeless of ever losing the excess body weight that seems to have appeared  “overnight!”

If you find yourself with this same struggle then this blog will hopefully offer up the support you need.  While there are certainly many foods that may be sabotaging your ability to lose the menopause belly and reach a sustainable, healthy weight, there are 5 BIG culprits that I want to talk about. The good news is, I’m not suggesting these foods have to be given up entirely either … but some necessary changes in your behavior and relationship with this foods may require some immediate action on your part.

We all know that sustainable weight loss does not happen overnight and menopause belly is no different.  However, with all the changes happening in your body during this phase of your life, some special attention to foods is necessary in order to help you keep your weight under control and so you don’t feel like all hope is lost.  Making better food choices that can support healthy, sustainable weight loss is something that you can actively participate in and see results with.

What Causes “Menopause Belly?”

As I’ve already mentioned, in all my years as a holistic health practitioner this was hands down the biggest complaint among my clients who were in menopause, and the one that they felt most frustrated with.

The hormonal changes and fluctuations of menopause are influencing your body composition.  Most women notice an increase in body fat particularly around their waistline.  Obviously your nutrition and exercise can influence this, but not the same way or in the same timeframe it did when you were in your 20’s and 30’s.  Menopause belly is … let’s just say, not as forgiving!

Most of us are well aware that excellent nutrition and regular exercise are factors that contribute to how well we manage and sustain a healthy weight.  We are also well aware that when we want to lose weight, creating a caloric deficit is necessary. So how come then, it seems that this does not work entirely the same way in perimenopause and menopause?

The drop in estrogen levels that a women experiences during her menopause transition can cause a shift in fat storage from areas like the thighs and hips to her waistline.  Also, these fluctuating hormone levels can make it much more challenging to burn fat.

Worst Food #1 – The White Stuff

Remember the days when you could enjoy a pasta dinner with a slice of warm garlic bread, a glass of white wine and then some decadent tiramisu for dessert?!  Well … if you are waiting for me to tell you that this meal is entirely OFF the menu, you’ll be waiting a long time.  However, what I will say is that we need to make some “menopause edits” to this meal!

Foods like white breads and pastas that are made from refined white flour can be wreaking havoc on your weight loss efforts, so switching gears and greatly reducing these foods can have a pretty big positive impact on helping you to manage your weight with greater success.

This does not mean you have to completely eliminate them from your diet, that is entirely up to you.  But if you are struggling with menopause belly and you want to start making better choices that support weight loss, than taking a serious look at these foods and making better choices is something you do not want to overlook.

Healthy Swap
Instead of reaching for the white, reach for what’s MORE RIGHT for you, right now.  Choose whole grain or veggie based pastas which also add a lot more fiber to your meals.  The same goes for wraps and bread alternatives.  If you like to bake or make your own breads and pastas, experiment with other flours like oat flour, whole grain, rye and spelt.

Worst Food #2 – Grab-N-Go Snack Foods

These foods really do not need a detailed description because, we all know what these types of foods are.  Potato chips, cheezies, tortilla chips … the list goes on as there is an infinite abundance of foods like this readily available at a moment’s notice.

The thing with these types of snack foods is that they are highly processed, which means they are over loaded with added sugars, sodium and trans fats that are in no way going to help with your weight loss efforts.  These foods are also very easy to over-consume.   Think about it, in the time it would take you to prepare a salad, you would be able to consume how many potato chips?One of these takes preparation and some planning, while the other requires that you only open the package!

Healthy Swap
So what do you do when you are having cravings and your old pattern was to break into the family size bag of kettle style chips? You make better choices and you stock your kitchen with healthier options so making these choices is easier to do.

For example, consider replacing bags of potato chips with popcorn that you can air-pop or choose to snack on fresh veggies instead.  And if you find yourself in the drive-thru line on many occasions, go for the salad instead and add protein like grilled chicken or fish to it.

Worst Food #3 – High Sodium Condiments

Even if you are not in menopause, the truth is that as a population most of us are consuming massive amounts of sodium daily that we are not even aware of.  One of the factors that makes it easy to do this is when it comes to condiments. Condiments add a lot of flavor to what otherwise might be bland and boring, and they are very easy to use in excess.

Have you ever read the labels on food products like sauces, dips, spreads, dressing?  It is staggering the amount of sodium that is hidden in a single serving.

Did you know that most bottled dressings can have as much as 75–250mg of sodium in one tablespoon?  With higher than necessary amounts of sodium lurking in almost everything we like to drizzle, sprinkle and add to our meals, it really is very easy to over-consume sodium, and by a lot.

There does appear to be a link between higher body fat, particularly around the mid-section, and high sodium consumption.  So in an effort to reduce menopause belly, it may be a really good idea to become much more “condiment conscious!”

Healthy Swap
You don’t have to give up flavor, but you do need to be a lot more aware of how to add flavor without adding to your menopause belly.  Condiments are one of the easiest food items to make changes in.

Instead of buying dressings, dips and spreads, why not make your own?  This way you control what the ingredients are, making them much healthier, and significantly decreasing the amount of sodium you are consuming daily.  Even if you are not one to whip up a homemade dressing, why not opt for a balsamic vinegar, with a splash of avocado oil and some fresh herbs.  All the flavor and only a fraction of the salt!

Worst Food #4 –  Frappuccino’s, Lattes, Cappuccino’s

Who does not love a decadent extra special coffee beverage on a Sunday morning?  I know I do, but that being said, this has now become a treat that I enjoy only on occasion.

While just a plain cup of black coffee, can have a mild to moderate metabolism-boosting effect, the excessive amount of sugar that we put in our coffee is seriously increasing the amount of unnecessary calories we often consume in a single drink.  These fancy coffees contain so many empty calories in added sugars that it will make your head spin.

Did you know that a medium sized vanilla Frappuccino has 72g of carbs, mostly all sugar and 14g of fat?  Total calories for this beverage are around 430.  That is more total calories, as well as total calories from carbs, than 4oz of chicken breast plus a full side salad with dressing and a side of steamed veggies!

Healthy Swap
If you love your coffee, your best option is to stick to a simple, plain brewed coffee, keeping the amount of cream or milk you add to a minimum and avoiding sugary, high-calorie creamers and other supposedly “healthy alternatives.”

Another option is flavored coffee grounds, which may help take the edge off the need for something sweeter.  If you absolutely must add sweetness, opt for a healthier alternative, IN MODERATION, such as stevia, brown rice syrup or raw honey.

Worst Food #5 – Alcohol

Truth time … alcohol provides more calories per gram than either carbs or protein, coming in at around 7 calories per gram.  So if you are inclined to finish the entire bottle of wine in one sitting, that is a pile of empty calories right there, and we haven’t even included the meal yet!

It does appear that women do become more sensitive to alcohol and its’ effects on the body as they get older. So making changes to your consumption can go a very long way in helping you to get your weight under control.

Healthy Swap
When it comes to healthy swaps for alcohol there are a couple of options.  If you know you are over-consuming, you definitely want to cut back and save your fancy cocktails for a special occasions and even then, in moderation.

Switching to lower-calorie mixers like club soda or flavored sparkling water is a much better choice than sodas or sugary fruit juices.  Certain spirits like tequila, are lower in calories than say vodka, and can actually fit into your menopause weight loss plan … within reason!


Menopause belly is a challenge for many women entering menopause and it is often the one that brings them the most frustration.

If you have always been a very health conscious person and followed a healthy eating plan, menopause belly can leave you feeling hopeless in your attempts to lose the excess weight and keep it off.  Making some new  lifestyle choices with respect to foods, while going through menopause can have a massive impact in helping you to keep your weight manageable and under control.

This does not mean giving up everything that you love.  It means making some new and better choices to help you combat menopause belly and better manage your weight during this time of your life.




Various Types of Coffee and Their Nutritional Value


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-surprising-link-between-salt-and-weight-gain/ – :~:text=Eating a lot of salt,that accumulates around your middle.

Various Types of Coffee and Their Nutritional Value


https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-surprising-link-between-salt-and-weight-gain/ – :~:text=Eating a lot of salt,that accumulates around your middle.

Author: Tonya

Tonya is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner & has over 25 years experience working in the health, fitness & wellness industry as a coach & nutrition counselor. She is also an international women's figure athlete, having represented Canada & New Zealand.

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