July 12, 2023

Foods That May Trigger Hot Flashes

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Written by Erin Dresser

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Hot Flashes and Perimenopause

One of the most commonly experienced symptoms of perimenopause is hot flashes, which are sudden feelings of intense heat, often accompanied by sweating, flushed skin, rapid heartbeat, and feelings of anxiety. Hot flashes primarily affect the upper body, face, and neck and can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes. Hot flashes are caused by the hormonal changes that take place in your body during perimenopause. The main female reproductive hormones, progesterone and estrogen, decrease, which can disrupt the body’s temperature regulation systems.

While the hormonal changes that take place during perimenopause are the biggest culprit behind the hot flashes, diet, certain lifestyle factors, and some medical conditions and medications can also play a role in the frequency and severity of hot flashes. While you may not be able to avoid hot flashes altogether, you may be able to adjust your diet to avoid or limit certain foods to help manage the hot flashes you do experience.

Diet and Hot Flashes – How to Help

While maintaining a balanced diet is essential during perimenopause to support overall health and wellness, avoiding or limiting certain foods can help reduce the frequency or severity of hot flashes.

Foods That Trigger Hot Flashes

shallow focus photography of green and red chili on plate

Some foods have been identified as potential triggers for hot flashes, including spicy foods, hot beverages, caffeine, alcohol, processed foods, high sugar foods, and high fat foods.

Spicy Foods:

Some individuals report that eating spicy foods that contain chili peppers or hot sauces can trigger and exacerbate the hot flashes they experience.


Consuming hot beverages like tea and coffee reportedly may have the same effect as spicy foods on hot flashes. Caffeine and alcohol are both known to stimulate the nervous system, which can potentially trigger or worsen hot flashes. By avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol, you may be able to reduce the severity and frequency of your hot flashes. Substituting high caffeine beverages, such as coffee or black tea, with lower or no caffeine alternatives, such as green or herbal tea, you may be able to reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. 


Consuming high sugar foods or heavily processed foods can cause blood sugar spikes and result in hot flashes. Additionally, high fat foods, particularly those high in saturated fats, can affect blood flow and also may result in hot flashes.  

Cooling Down – Diet Strategies to Manage Hot Flashes

Triggers to hot flashes vary from person to person, meaning that while one woman may find spicy foods triggering, another woman may have no problem with spicy foods, but find caffeine a strong trigger for her hot flashes.

woman drinking coffee in white ceramic mug
Minimizing caffeine can help manage hot flash symptoms.

Practicing Mindfulness

Practicing mindful eating and maintaining a food diary can help identify person triggers. By paying close attention and noting the foods and beverages you consume and monitoring your body’s reaction, you can identify the triggers and take special care to avoid or limit those foods or beverages going forward.

Additionally, other factors such as stress, smoking, and certain medical conditions, such as obesity, and certain medications can contribute to hot flashes.

By understanding the other factors that contribute to hot flashes, you can take steps to identify those triggers for your body and determine solutions to those triggers, such as obtaining enough quality sleep, getting regular physical activity, drinking plenty of water, and maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. 

crop blogger with smartphone and tasty vegetarian salad in cafeteria

A Balanced Diet to Manage Symptoms

A well-rounded and balanced diet is one of the most modifiable factors that you can manage to help alleviate perimenopause symptoms. Including a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, phytoestrogens (plant-based foods that are high in plant-sourced estrogen), such as flaxseeds and soy products, and healthy fats is key for overall health and wellness, symptom management, and improved quality of life during perimenopause.

Drinking plenty of water and consuming cooling foods, such as cucumbers or watermelon, can also aid in managing hot flashes. 

Seek Professional Help if Needed

Consult with a registered dietitian or other healthcare professional that specialize in women’s health to address further questions regarding diet and perimenopause. These individuals can provide tailored support, advice, recommendations, and solutions to symptom management and overall health and wellness through perimenopause.

find a perimenopause or menopause specialist

While the effectiveness of diet modifications for managing hot flashes may vary from person to person, a certain amount of trial and error may be necessary to determine what solutions work for you and your body. Identifying your own triggers and taking steps to limit or avoid those triggers may help reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes.

It’s Fetch is a community that provides a safe space for members to discuss health and wellness topics. We provide access to archived health related content, note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content shared, regardless of date should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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