Holiday Meal Planning Menopause Style - Ellen Dolgen

Holiday Meal Planning Menopause Style

“Let’s host the main holiday meal at our place,” always seems like a good idea at first.

That’s in November.  When December rolls around, you’re already getting anxious about what you’ll serve and who’ll sit where.  What’s a girl to do?

Your menopausal hormones are in high gear and you’re already worried that you’re spending money on holiday gifts as if it was water.   Really—silently in your head—you’re voicing the words of the old TV commercial, “Calgon: take me away!”

Give Yourself a KISS

Don’t let your Type-A personality take over. My motto for holiday hosting is KISS:  Keep it Simple Sistah!

Creating an innovative theme for your holiday meal can change things up a bit and not overtax you or your wallet. One year, I only made the turkey and asked everyone to bring their favorite dish (along with their partner)!  I asked the guests not to tell me what they were making! I wanted it to be a surprise. The guests brought their surprise food offering covered with tin foil. Once I put all the dishes on the buffet table, cocktail in hand, we unveiled the dishes and guessed who made them. Can’t get any more KISS than this!

I have to admit, that at most holiday dinners I do find myself overeating (shocker!) Usually, sneaking off to my bedroom to rip off those pesky Spanx! So one year, my holiday gathering was a Pajama Party.  Everyone came comfy and relaxed.  That holiday dinner was a huge hit! Warning: it was hard to get everyone to leave! I had to remind them it was not a slumber party.

Manage your stress

Any psychologist will tell you that striving to be perfect relates back to the fear of failure…needing to please everyone…and is a critical anxiety trigger.

There are already cognitive changes in your brain during menopause due to hormonal fluctuations.  These can result in brain fog, which anxiety only serves to exasperate.

Since stress can be contagious, take some measures to help make this a stress free holiday.  If you are enjoying your holiday dinner, so will your guests.

To help manage holiday stress, try to maintain your healthy routine during the days leading up to the holidays.  Oh, we all fall off the wagon when it comes to diet and drinking, but at least make the attempt to eat clean for the most part.  Try to curb your overwhelming taste for alcohol at this time of year and remember to exercise to burn off those pesky stress hormones caused by frequent bursts of adrenaline.  Scientists now say it will likely lead to stubborn belly fat, which is really unhealthy for your heart, particularly during menopause.   However, if you need just a small glass of wine, one study in Oregon found that a little drink every now and again might strengthen your bones.  As if you need an excuse for a good Chardonnay!

Schedule in some “me” time.

Your schedule is crazy busy, but if you put yourself on your own “To Do List”, you can make time for a casual walk, a bike ride, or some yoga. Taking time for quiet mindfulness through meditation is critical to your wellbeing and will provide you the reboot you’ll need to pull off a successful, peaceful family gathering.

While you are decking the halls with holly remember to set the mood for a good night’s sleep! Sleeplessness can be a real problem for women who are going through menopause – the North American Menopause Society (NAMS) lists trouble falling asleep as one of their main five symptoms of menopause.

Before you hit the sack try some tricks to help relax your body and get you into the sleeping mode. For example, do something calming like reading a book while sipping on some chamomile tea, enjoying a candlelight bath, or just closing your eyes and listening to some soft music. As it gets closer to sleep time, prepare your bedroom so there are no distractions — eliminate as much light and sound as possible.  This means no cell phones or late night gift-wrapping.  Your bedroom should be a tranquil sanctuary during this hectic holiday season!

A Little Social Time

Finally, try to remember why you wanted to play hostess in the first place. Isn’t it all about the camaraderie and sense of family during the holidays?

Let the love in!  Relying on your loved ones to prop you up, lend some advice or just tell a few jokes is vital to a successful holiday event. Laughter relieves tension. It’s like getting an emotional message. The fabulous Lucille Ball had it right—life will get zany and humor is important.  Learn to roll with it.

It’s the time of year when we celebrate our health and happiness. Keep your scale on your good side, take time for YOU, and you’ll also slash stress and be able to enjoy the holidays’ finer things: family, friends, and health! Happy holidays!

Remember:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN.

Download my free eBook: MENOPAUSE MONDAYS  the Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

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