Written by Mallory Junggren
If you’re experiencing hot flashes you’re not alone. Most women — between 60 to 80% — experience hot flashes while going through menopause.1 They usually last anywhere from six months to two years, although they can go on longer. That’s the bad news. The good news? Lifestyle choices can help to decrease or even eliminate hot flashes. Cutting down on these foods that cause hot flashes is a great place to start:
5 Foods That Trigger Hot Flashes
It’s no secret that hot flashes at night, also known as night sweats, can cause sleep problems. Who can get a good night’s rest when they’re sweating bullets? In the morning, a cup of joe can be a quick pick-me-up. The problem? There are two: caffeine and heat. Both are on the list of foods that can trigger hot flashes, making coffee a double no-no. If you can’t bear the thought of giving up coffee altogether, try it iced and cut yourself off at noon.
Like coffee, chocolate also has two strikes against it when it comes to hot flashes. Caffeine is one of them. The other is a chemical in chocolate that can affect the brain’s temperature control center. You don’t have to give up chocolate for life – how sad would that be? But if you’ve noticed a connection between eating chocolate and hot flashes, saving it for special occasions might be a good idea.
Have you ever eaten a meal so spicy that it made you sweat? It’s because those curries and bowls of chili don’t just taste hot – they’re actually raising your body temperature. This is the exact opposite of what you want while going through menopause. Next time ask for “mild” when ordering these types of dishes. Giving up the heat on your plate may spare you the heat of a hot flash.
Like hot liquids, straight-from-the-stove foods also trigger hot flashes. If you’re eating out, skip the soup starter and opt for a refreshing salad instead. This smart move provides a second benefit: the salad may give you some of the vitamins that are helpful in preventing hot flashes. At the very least, let hot foods cool down before digging in.
Drinking alcohol regularly can cause hot flashes to happen more often, last longer and be more severe. If you notice a connection between having a glass of wine and getting hot flashes, consider cutting down. Also, try not to drink alcohol too close to bedtime, as it can encourage night sweats.
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1. Gold EB, Colvin A, Avis N, et al. Longitudinal analysis of the association between VMS and race/ethnicity across the menopausal transition: Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation. Am J Public Health. 2006;96(7):1226-1235.