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The Best Perimenopause Healthy Foods from Costco

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Before you head to Costco for your next kitchen re-stock, here are some healthy food options for managing your perimenopause and menopausal symptoms. As we age, what we eat has a greater impact on how our body feels. It’s time to make your overall health a priority. We deserve to feel good!

Healthy Costco Perimenopause Foods text. Showing a salad, oats and yogurt parfaits

Protein

Costco is a protein shopper’s dream! Protein is discussed a lot and with good reason. During perimenopause, women start to lose lean muscle mass, and it becomes harder to maintain body weight (hello, increased waist circumference). Increasing your daily protein intake can help with maintaining or building muscle—yes, you need to do some strength training (body weight exercises are good)—and managing appetite.

The fact is, a meal without protein impacts your blood sugar, which in turn affects your energy level. Jessie InchauspĂ©, in her bestselling books The Glucose Revolution and its follow-up The Glucose Goddess Method, suggests that you should eat protein and vegetables first and save carbohydrates for last to keep your blood sugar stable. 

If you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, opt for plant-based protein first.  
So what are the best healthy protein Costco food options for perimenopause?

Costco turkey pepperoni is a great healthy perimenopause food
Costco turkey pepperoni is a great healthy perimenopause food

1. Meat, Fish & Eggs

  • Wild sockeye salmon. At Costco, this comes vacuum-sealed and usually previously frozen. Not only is it a good source of protein, but it is also high in omega-3 fats. Omega-3s are important for brain and heart health, eye health, and decreased inflammation. Depending on your region, they also have other fish; mackerel, sardines, and other fatty fish are your best options.
  • Chicken Thighs. Chicken is a complete protein; it contains all nine essential amino acids that our bodies can not make on their own. It also includes tryptophan, an amino acid responsible for raising serotonin, a feel-good chemical that can boost your mood. Given that mood swings are not unknown during this time of transition, bring on the chicken.
  • Canned Tuna isn’t just for tuna salad. You can also chop this protein up and mix it into leafy salads to boost the protein content. Canned tuna is high in Omega-3s, Vitamin A and D, plus selenium, phosphorous, and iron.
  • Turkey Pepperoni is a great addition to a charcuterie board. This one is lean but a bit higher in sodium, so it’s best to limit your intake on this one.
  • Eggs. These are a protein powerhouse whether you opt for the whole egg or only the egg whites. Eggs have about 6 grams of protein, with the white being more protein-dominant and the yolk being more nutrient-rich. Like the chicken, this is a complete protein. (Hard-boiled eggs are high in dietary cholesterol, but recent research shows that dietary cholesterol has very little effect on blood cholesterol and is not associated with heart disease risk.)

2. Plant-Based Proteins

Kraft peanut butter
  • Peanut Butter. The jury is still out on this one. Pay close attention to the nutrition label for added sugar. Natural peanut butters—those ones that tend to separate and get that layer of oil on top to mix in—tend to have lower sugar content. Peanut butter is high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. 
  • Almond Butter. Alternatively, if you are allergic to peanuts, almond butter has more monounsaturated fats, which help lower cholesterol, calcium for bone health, and magnesium, which can help insulin sensitivity. (Magnesium is also helpful for sleep, and sleep can be greatly disrupted in perimenopause.) I find Costco is also cheaper for whole almonds than the grocery store.
  • Macadamia nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, which boost heart health. They are unlikely to raise blood sugar as they are low in carbohydrates and sugar and have a moderate fibre content. One ounce has 23 grams of fat, 2 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fibre. I am OBSESSED with putting macadamia nuts in my healthy perimenopause smoothie (it has blueberries, milk, protein powder and about 7 yuuuummy macadamia nuts–all food from Costco).
  • Protein powder and protein drinks. Protein powder can be a good way to bolster the protein in almost anything — smoothies, baked goods, pancake batter.  Protein drinks offer great convenience, but do read the ingredient list and get a general idea of what’s in them. Look for simple ingredients.
  • Black beans. I usually buy the canned ones (rinse well to reduce sodium), but I think Costco also has the dry ones. These have 15 grams of protein per cooked one cup and have a high fiber content. Mineral-rich, they have calcium, magnesium and phosphorous which are good for your bones. The potassium and magnesium are also good for your blood pressure. 
Macadamia nuts costco

3. Dairy Products

Milk (including both animal and plant-based dairy). Calcium is key in bone heal but also for your heart, muscles and nerves. Your need for calcium actually increases in perimenopause and after menopause; our bodies are less efficient at using dietary calcium as the estrogen levels drop. Be aware that Vitamin D is a key partner to calcium absorption as well.

Plain Greek yogurt tends to have less sugar than the flavoured ones, but can be an easy way to get more calcium. The Greek kind has more protein and less sugar than its non-Greek version. Not only that, studies suggest increased intake of yogurt in perimenopause is associated with less weight gain and reduced obesity risk  This also adds a fermented element to your diet which is good for your gut health and reducing bloating. 

4 L of milk

Fats, Oils & Vinegar

Fats have to be part of the healthy eating equation. Otherwise you are missing out on those important fat-soluble vitamins. (Fat soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K which are key to vision, bone health, immune function and blood clotting.)

Oils. Given the price spike on cooking oils due to inflation, Costco can be a cheaper option in spite of the size. They do have a good  variety of oils, but think before grabbing the bottle. 

  • Coconut oil is high in saturated fats, but still has benefits in supporting the immune system, gut health and adrenal system. All of which affect hormonal balance. And let’s face it, we need help with that! However, my naturopath has advised me to limit coconut oil.
  • Avocado oil has only 1.6 gram of saturated fats per it’s 14 total grams of fat. The avocado oil has a high heat tolerance which makes it more versatile and it’s high in antioxidants like vitamin E, carotenoids, and polyphenols which are good for heart health.
  • Extra virgin olive oil is probably best known for its healthy monounsaturated fats, but its anti-inflammatory properties are key for perimenopausal women. Chronic inflammation is thought to be a leading cause of heart disease. More women die in Canada and the United States from heart disease than any other disease. 
This Chosen avocado oil is super handy for cooking

Balsamic Vinegar. Obviously balsamic vinegar has no fat, but I’ll pair it in here as this is often where it’s found, with the oils, especially in salad dressing. This hero of the Mediterranean diet has antioxidants that help lower cholesterol, probiotics that help aid digestion and is anti-glycemic which is a measure related to how blood sugar spikes. With perimenopausal weight gain and how it can derail any woman’s weight loss journey, this is all helpful.

Hemp Hearts. These are technically a nut, but often referred to as a seed. They are 30% fat (high in both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids) and boast more than 25% of their calories from high quality protein. Think 10 grams of protein per 3 tablespoons along with 9 essential amino acids. You can scoop these into your overnight oats, your smoothie or your salad.

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-health-benefits-of-hemp-seeds#TOC_TITLE_HDR_7

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are not the enemy, but like anything else, there are better options and poorer options. Complex carbs — like whole grains, fruits and vegetables — can help regulate blood sugar levels. Hormones changes during perimenopause can cause insulin resistance and higher blood sugar. Those complex carbs are also good for your blood pressure which can increase in perimenopause if you stop being active and don’t manage your stress.

One of my favourite healthy carbohydrate foods from Costco for perimenopause is their quinoia! Pre-rinsed and everything!

I also love the quick cooking steel cut oats. I use them as overnight oats! Yummmmm.

Instead of no-carb, think slow carbs. The ones that take longer for your body to process are better!

Bob's redmill oats are a great healthy perimenopause food for steady energy when paired with protein

Vegetables & Fruit

Costco is where I buy most of our healthy fruit and veg foods for this perimenopause bod! Kiwis to snap peas, they have a big selection, and it’s a good thing because this produce is SUPER important.

Vegetables and fruit are high in fiber which slows down the absorption of carbohydrates and helps you to feel full longer. This helps to curb those cravings which often have us reaching for easy carbs and high sodium snacks. Dietary fiber is also very important because, as hormones start to change, movement in the gut slows down which can lead to constipation if you don’t eat enough fiber. No one wants that!

One of the other benefits of produce is the often higher water content. Staying well hydrated can help relieve hormonal symptoms like bloating, hot flashes and headaches. It’s also a beloved partner to fiber and keeping things moving. Make sure you drink your water!

Salad kits. Costco has some great salad kits, like the Sweet Kale Salad or Dill Pickle Salad. It’s so quick and easy. Dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are a plant-based source of protein as well. 

Be mindful that some of these salads come with a dressing that can be fairly high in sugar.  Sugar is harder to manage as we age, due to those decreasing hormones, and definitely has an impact maintaining a healthy weight. Think about using less of the dressing or mix up a dressing of your own which gives you more control of the sugar levels. 

Costco creamy dill pickle salad
I’m OBSESSED with this Costco creamy dill pickle salad

Raw vegetables, like cucumber, grape tomatoes and peppers, are a good source of fiber. Eat the rainbow. Romaine lettuce comes in a large package, but can be washed and vacuum sealed (or canned) to last longer. Spend the time to wash and prepare these on grocery day before you stick them in the fridge; your future self will thank you when she’s looking for a quick healthy snack.

Avocado. It is more than healthy fats and omega-3s. Half an avocado has 18% of your daily vitamin K which increases calcium absorption and reduces urinary excretion of calcium. We worry about getting enough calcium to prevent osteoporosis, but we really need our Vitamin K too. It’s also high in folate; low levels of folate have been linked to depression.

Frozen fruits, like blueberries and cherries. That dark colour is a giveaway. These are high in antioxidants. These frozen gems are less subject to seasonality and are just as nutritious, if not more, due to flash freezing and not spending weeks in a truck bring transported while the fresh fruit continues to ripen. Consume before or immediately following a workout to maximize the anti-inflammatory properties and to aid in muscle recovery.

Costco cucumber 3 pack is a great healthy perimenopause food

But What about Treats?

Costco has amazing frozen mini cream puffs in the freezer case. The big bags of tortilla chips and Kettle-cooked chips are tempting. No one is expecting you to be perfect. That Mom Tax that lets you take a little chocolate bar from your kids’ Halloween haul applies here. Sometimes all you need is a small taste to be satisfied.

Make sure the taste is worth it. Enjoy high quality snacks, not just the one that was there and convenient. Have a bite of real ice cream, not frozen dessert, or a homemade chocolate chip cookie cookie instead of a mediocre and hard bagged one from the store.

Supplements & Vitamins

Yeah, we’d like to all say we eat perfectly and get everything we need from regular meals, but sometime we don’t. Sometimes we need dietary supplements to help us through because older adults need fewer calories which makes it more challenging to get all the vitamins and minerals we need for better health.

Obvious disclaimer: this is not official medical advice and consult your doctor if you have specific questions about supplements. Some are available in multiple formulations and some are absorbed better than others, like liquid Vitamin D over pill form. 

We know they are all important vitamins and minerals, but here are some of the key ones in perimenopause: 

  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C levels drop as women progress through perimenopause and menopause although they aren’t sure why. Studies have shown Vitamin C is a component for good bone health, the immune system and the production of collagen which is essential to the structure of skin and cells. It also has a role in adrenal function. 
  • Vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin is added to milk and margarine in Canada. Check the label as it might added into yogurt, orange juice and other products as well. Women in perimenopause start to have decreased estrogen levels, which can cause depression, hot flashes, mood swings and other symptoms. Vitamin D deficiency reduces testosterone production, which can lead to fatigue, weight gain, mood swings and hair loss. And it’s not healthy to rely only on the sun!
  • Iron. During perimenopause, periods can become heavier and/or more frequent, resulting in more blood loss and iron loss. If your diet doesn’t replace that iron, the body’s iron stores will deplete and can lead to anemia. Common symptoms are low energy/fatigue, irritability, paleness and increased heart rate. 
  • Omega-3. Are you tired of hearing about this one yet? Fish oil is commonly found with the other supplements, often as a pill.

Keep in mind that whatever the package size is at Costco, you can divide that up. Whether you can it or divide it into freezer bags, you can make the amount ready to eat in your kitchen a more reasonable quantity. There are lots of things you can freeze that you might not have realized, like avocadoes (frozen whole, use within 3 months). I guess you can tell I love Costco for my healthy perimenopause food supplies! It’s important to get it all in an accessible place so we ACTUALLY eat the right things.

Healthy living is getting enough sleep, proper exercise and eating a varied diet (including water!) The good news is that what you eat is within your control and whatever dietary restrictions you may have, there are lots of choices if you understand what’s behind those foods. You can reduce your risk factors for illness and hopefully limit some of the symptoms of menopausal transition. Enjoy!

Healthy Costco Perimenopause Foods text. Showing dairy and produce

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