Holiday nutrition? It sounds like an oxymoron to some. From November through January 1, many in the States tend to go a little overboard in the indulgence department. Yet, what if you could breeze your way through these months without allowing sugar, alcohol, and processed foods to potentially intensify your menopause symptoms? 

These tips for the holidays will ensure you get the foods you need to feed your body — and still enjoy a few holiday sweets!

Tips for the holidays: getting to January with fewer hot flashes

This is not about “perfection.” We get that the holidays are all about overindulgence, and it’s hard to get through two months’ of parties without slipping up here and there. Luckily, it's not about perfection, just improvement. Curb your holiday cravings by activating a few of these tips.

Go easy on the eggnog (... or wine... or cocktails)

We hate to say it, but alcohol can be a huge hormone disruptor.

Alcohol can warm you up, make you more sociable and loosen your anxiety. But it can also lead to increased hot flashes, headaches, and irritability. 

If you’re going to indulge in alcoholic sips this season, we recommend no more than two drinks per day. Yes, we do understand that you’re more likely to indulge during the holidays. Just keep your consumption in check and don’t forget to drink lots of water each day.

We also suggest you consider alcoholic beverages with a lower sugar content to keep your sugar consumption in check. Drinks like gin and sparkling water can help you avoid a hangover (when you drink in moderation). The sparkling water offers some hydration and the gin has zero grams of sugar. 

Steer clear of cocktails made with juice, sugary mixers, and heavy cream (e.g. chocolate mudslides and spiked eggnog). 

Drink lots of water

Yes, you hear this advice all the time. Some make it a goal and a game to drink half your body weight in water each day. So, a 150-lb woman may set her intention to drink 75 ounces of fresh, unflavored water every day. 

Alternate between alcoholic beverages and glasses of water. And when you’ve finished that glass of H2O, consider making a mental note about when you’ll drink your next one too.

There’s a reason you’re hearing this tip a lot. It is possibly one of the best pieces of advice we can offer during the holidays. Water can help you avoid a hangover, flush your system, and even keep your skin supple and hydrated. 

If there was ever a “miracle food,” it’s water.

We don’t want to dictate how much water you should drink and when you should drink it, so we’ll just give you a few tips you can pick and choose from, including:

  • Try to drink half your body weight in water (in ounces: for 150 pounds, that's 75 oz)
  • After each alcoholic beverage, drink a full 8-ounce glass of water
  • Carry a reusable tumbler and eco-straw to remind you to drink enough
  • Sip some sodium-free sparkling water (or add it to cocktails, wine, and juice) 
  • Snack on oranges, grapes, and other fruits with a high water content
  • Contrary to popular belief, tea and coffee don’t dehydrate you, so sip away! (Just make sure to opt for caffeine-free)

Focus on what you should eat — not what you shouldn’t

If you’re constantly obsessing over what you shouldn’t eat, you won’t be able to enjoy the foods that will fuel your body. Similarly, if you only eat processed foods laden with fat, you’re missing out on a whole gambit of fresh flavors found in unprocessed foods!

Focus on healthy foods you already know you love, and try some new and exotic fruits or veggie recipes. We also recommend:

  • Filling your plate with veggies (yes, even a few of the fried ones!)
  • Opt for the fish course or vegetarian option over red meat
  • Bring a sugar-free dessert to a party (if it’s pre-approved by your host or hostess)
  • Drink water when you feel yourself getting tipsy (lowered inhibitions can lead to grazing, snacking, and overeating)
  • Opt for a little indulgence over eating tons of low-fat foods (P.S. these are usually made with extra sugar to make up for the decrease in fat)

Holiday events: runs, walks, and plunges

One of the best ways to get a little boost of serotonin is to exercise! Elle Woods said it best when she proclaimed, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy.” 

When you’re happy, you’re less stressed. When you’re less stressed, you’re less likely to binge your feelings away with pecan pie. You’ll also work up an appetite!

Most cities and towns host holiday running or walking events to help people “work off” a little extra turkey. If you don’t want to dress up and run with your neighbors, you could always go on a solo run. If you live close to a body of water, your city or town may even host something like a “Polar Plunge” around New Year’s Day. 

Just don’t forget to eat a little protein after your workout. You don’t want to find yourself ravenous at the start of the big meal because you worked out so hard earlier in the day. And don’t forget your water bottle.

Plan activities that don’t involve food

The holidays generally revolve around food, drink, and more food and drink. We see people we haven’t seen all year. We want to get warm and cozy inside and enjoy some great conversation. 

But when we’re standing around chitchatting, we’re also more prone to distracted eating. The same goes for sitting at a dinner table talking for hours. 

If you’re going to enjoy a long leisurely meal, do as the French do and plan for small courses to arrive at the table throughout the evening.

Or, plan a few activities that don’t involve food.

If your family loves football, why not play a game of touch football in the afternoon instead of just sitting in front of the TV snacking? Plan a Christmas tree decorating party and ask guests to bring an ornament, string popcorn, and sing songs or carols. While you’re at it, why not get outside and enjoy the sights of some festive lights in your neighborhood?

There's plenty of fun to be had over the holidays, both indoors and outdoors.

A taste of indulgence

It’s normal to feel a little “left-out” when everyone else is eating your mom’s famous sweet potato casserole (you know, the one loaded with heavy cream and topped with marshmallows?!). 

Food connects us with our family, friends, and heritage. Just because an ingredient is “off-limits” doesn’t mean you must avoid it altogether (unless you have a serious allergy or aversion). 

We recommend indulging in a little of what you absolutely love. Just set a few boundaries with food to keep this copasetic. We recommend:

  • Deciding how much of a decadent dessert you’ll enjoy before an event (maybe just half a slice of that pie?)
  • Taking a spin around a buffet table and making note of one indulgent treat to eat
  • Choosing only one event in the season to let yourself eat without limits (the office holiday party, gift-exchange tea with your girlfriends, or Hanukkah -- maybe not all three). 
  • Enjoy your food consciously, mindfully; this means placing your fork on the table between bites, stopping when you’re full and paying attention to how that 10-layer dip feels at the bottom of your stomach  

Again, this is not about perfection! We recommend setting a personal goal to make this year’s nutrition goals better than last year’s. And if today you don’t succeed? Try again tomorrow!

We’d love to hear about your holiday plans for getting nutrition in your body and still feeling you are celebrating the winter season. Let us know what’s going on in the Community. You are always invited.



Shannon Perry

December 3, 2019
Director of Programming & Media

Medically Reviewed By

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