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Can I improve my menopause symptoms and energy levels with good nutrition?

2 Oct 2023

Can I improve my menopause symptoms and energy levels with good nutrition?

Menopause should be a time to thrive, not just survive. With some simple nutrition changes and habits, you can reduce menopause symptoms as well as increasing your energy levels, gut health, weight management, and mood.

Vanessa Sturman is a Plant-Based Health Coach and Award-Winning Expert Speaker, who helps people get rid of fatigue, get a healthy weight and never diet again using healthy habits and building in more delicious plant-based wholefood (whether you want to be fully plant-based or not). She has a regular slot on BBC Radio and is featured on Sky News, LBC and Times Radio. She’s even helping organisation like Cambridge University Press with Menopause Nutrition and was recently contracted by Michigan State University to teach their future medical students how to implement healthy eating.

Vanessa says that nutrition and eating more plants in menopause is key. Why is that?

  1. Our good gut bacteria feed off fibre (which comes from plants). We need to maintain a diversity of good gut bacteria and lots of them. So, unless we eat a diversity of plants, we can’t achieve good gut health. Gut health affects hormones, mood, weight, cravings, digestion, immunity, focus and prevention of disease. So, we need to eat lots of plants, and a good range of them. This doesn’t just mean greens. It includes grains, beans, fruit, nuts and seeds.
  2. Certain compounds called phytoestrogens are important for alleviating menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes. Many plant foods are rich in these phytoestrogens (and it must be noted that these compounds can only be found in plants). This includes foods like linseed/flaxeed, soy and beans.
  3. Plants are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients. This is so key for keeping our cells healthy and keeping our bodies strong. So eating lots of plant based wholefoods will help give you more energy and help the body function better.
  4. Plant based wholefoods help fill you up and help you maintain a healthy weight. Bulking out our plate with more fruit, vegetables and beans will help stop the cravings and help us maintain a healthy weight. This is especially important if you’re concerned about weight gain around this time.

This doesn’t mean we have to give anything up, and indeed, we need to eat our favourite foods. Big hearty meals should still be on the menu – this isn’t about sitting eating salad all day. Meals made from more plant based wholefoods can include big chickpea curries with wholegrain rice and lots greens. Dessert can even be a black bean and coffee chocolate mousse. Yep, Vanessa has that recipe in her free Facebook group.

We do, however, want to cut down on a few products or foods to help our gut thrive and help with the cravings. More details in the tips section below.

So, what are Vanessa’s top tips for thriving nutrition in menopause?

  • Start adding more fruit and vegetables to every meal. Not only are plants key to gut health, but they’ll make you more full and give you great nutrients.
  • Eat more phytoestrogen-containing foods, such as flaxseed/linseed, edamame beans, grains and garlic. This could be as simple as adding edamame beans to your stir fry.
  • Make sure you’re staying hydrated. We often forget to drink water, especially when we’re stressed, but this is key to gut health, focus and even good skin.
  • Enjoy the treats and foods you love, but be sensible. If you’re a cake lover (like me!) then have that treat after a proper balanced meal. Or try one of my healthier, but still naughty tasting, cakes in my group.
  • Cut back on refined sugar, alcohol and other products that could be disruptive to the gut such as meat and dairy. Nothing has to be given up completely, but a few reductions can be super helpful. And remember it’s more about what we ADD to our food habits, such as all these wonderful healthy plant foods, that has the most impact.

If you want more tips from Vanessa on using nutrition to thrive, then follow her on Instagram or download her free guide on eating with variety and balance to get rid of fatigue (no need to want to be fully plant based).

You can contact her directly at her LinkedIn or on vanessa@energiseandthriveplantbased.com


She loves doing talks on Nutrition to Thrive in Menopause, and helping people 1:1. So do drop her a line to discuss how she can help you.


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