Menopausal Healthy Holiday Season

Constadina Zarokostas-Vasiliades

First published in December 2012 at –

You’ve been trying to get control over all the changes your body is going through and now it’s the holiday season and you are overwhelmed with the thought that eating healthy and finding ways to exercise and relax are out of the question this holiday season.  Don’t fret, there are a few things you can do amongst the chaos of the holiday season to help you from going overboard and help you ease into the New Year without feeling completely guilty that you overindulged.  Remember getting your body in balance does not happen overnight and certainly is not easy to begin over the holiday season. Here is where you can begin your first steps:  

Tips to control what you eat and drink

  • Limit your alcohol intake and avoid sugary drinks like punch.  Alcohol and sugar are huge triggers to menopausal symptoms like hot flashes.  To avoid people questioning why you are not drinking large quantities of alcohol tell them you are the designated driver.  If you want to have an alcoholic beverage aim for something that can be diluted with low sodium sparkling water or seltzer and a twist of lime. Wine spritzers or vodka with sparkling water are good choices.
  • Stay hydrated.  With all the running around and party-going over the holiday season people tend to forget to drink the standard eight glasses of water per  day.  Keep a water bottle filled at all times with you or in your purse, and even have a back-up bottle of water in your car to sip on between shopping and holiday events. When you want to have an alcoholic beverage at a holiday event, not only will it dehydrate you, but the alcohol will hit your head a lot quicker when you are dehydrated.  Staying hydrated will also prevent you from over-eating all those yummy calorie-filled snacks and treats people have all over the office and at parties.  If you have over-indulged, water will help relieve some of the menopausal symptoms that may result.
  • Pick your holiday meal favorite and watch out for the rest.  If you can’t go one Christmas without a plate of pumpkin pie, make sure your other holiday food choices are not as high in calories.  If you are making the holiday meal, choose to make a baked sweet potato instead of smothering it with sugar and marshmallows in a casserole; don’t add bacon to your string beans, but add heart healthy slivered almonds; grill your vegetables and drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle them with your favorite herbs and spices instead of smothering them with cheese and creams. If a high-calorie side-dish is your favorite and you don’t care as much about the dessert, try a multi-grain cracker with pumpkin butter to prevent you from thinking you deprived yourself of dessert.  Think of a tradeoff and allow yourself one or two indulgence items.  Just make sure you take a small portion size and don’t load your plate with your sinful pleasure.
  • Drink green tea or black tea in the morning to give your metabolism a boost for the rest of the day.
  • Use vegetables as your base for appetizer spreads and dips instead of crackers. This will limit your carb intake which can affect your insulin levels.

Sneaking in Exercise

Exercise over the holiday season? Yes it is possible to sneak some in.

  • When Christmas shopping, park your car far from the entrance/exit to get in a little extra walking to and from the store.  Don’t allow the bagger to carry your bags to your car, instead pop them in a cart to give you a little resistance when walking back to your car. This is good for your upper legs (quads).
  • Have a grandchild or a friend with a baby?  Tell them to take a break from their child and offer to hold their baby so they can get a food or bathroom break.  When holding the baby make sure baby is facing you and proceed to continuously sit up and down on a chair, your back straight and lower tummy tucked in, all while making silly faces to make the baby laugh.  Babies like the up and down motion, and you get to benefit from doing squats which will work your quads and rear end.  Also try doing a plié motion holding the baby, which will work your inner thighs.
  • Have a favorite television show that you can’t miss every week? Maybe you have a favorite Christmas movie that is tradition to watch every year? Take the opportunity to get moving during part of your favorite program. Try sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, Russian twists, squats, jogging on the spot, and/or skipping rope for the first 20 to 30 minutes of the program, which allows you to relax for the rest.  At the very least do some stretching exercises on the floor to keep your circulation going and prevent stiff muscles from all your holiday shopping and chores.
  • Walking is one of the best exercises anyone can do. Try sneaking in a 15 to 20 minute brisk walk outside before a holiday meal or event. The fresh air will prevent you from getting tired as well as make you more conscious of what you will be putting in your mouth later in the day.  Plus, walking will help boost your metabolism, prepping your body to burn some of the goodies you are about to indulge in.

Remember what the Holiday Season is Really About      

With all the hustle and bustle, chores, crazy holiday shoppers around you, and sometime cold and dangerous driving conditions, staying in a zen-like state of mind is not easy.  Unfortunately for women going through menopause stress is a trigger to menopausal symptoms, so finding ways to cope during the holiday season is important.  Here are a few things to keep you in a positive state of mind this holiday season.

  • Peace on earth, good will to all.  This should be your mantra when you wake up each morning.  When you start your day thinking in a positive way you are more likely to attract positive people and situations. Expecting negative things to mess up your list of things to do, will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • When you are cleaning your house for guests and baking your holiday treats, blast your favorite dance music or Christmas tunes and dance around, swinging your hips and being silly.  Your endorphins will be boosted and your work won’t feel stressful.
  • If you are lighting candles to scent your home or using them for decorating your home for entertaining, make a conscious effort to think about the special people you have lost and would love to have had with you during the holiday season as you are lighting each candle.  Lighting a candle and dedicating the light to a departed special person in your life should remind you of the joy they brought you, and think of the candle glow as shining their joyous spirit in your home, filling it with love.
  • Give to those in need.  Hormone fluctuation during menopause can sometimes trigger depressing thoughts, but for many the holiday season seems to amplify their depression.  Sometimes even eating the fattening or sweet foods of the holiday season can trigger depression.  You don’t need to go to parties and do a lot of shopping to feel good, what you need to remember is the spirit of giving comes from the heart.  Take the time to help those in need. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, make care packages for the Salvation Army or your favorite charity that is helping people in need.  You may be depressed, but remember there is always someone out there that is in a worse situation than you are. Helping others is a humbling gesture, and those on the receiving end truly appreciate the break you provided them.  Take joy from your sincere act of kindness, and know the karma from your action will be returned to you at a later time.


   REMEMBER: Everything you put in your mouth over the holiday season can affect your mood and will require a lot of work to reverse.  Think twice about what you are about to eat and how much effort you are willing to put in to deal with the repercussions.  Sneak in exercise over the holidays to keep your indulgences from going overboard. Stay positive, and share your loving spirit.  Try these tips and you will start the New Year knowing you did your best to start getting in control of the changes that come with menopause.


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