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Team Inspiriko - August 2022

5 Holiday Foods That Could Make Your Menopause Symptoms Worse

‘Tis the season to be jolly! Christmas and the New Year are almost upon us and we all know what this means… eating and drinking — a lot! You’re probably going to gather with your friends and family with food as the protagonist of these meetings: roast turkey, delicious potatoes, and pigs in blankets, not to mention alcoholic drinks like wine or cocktails!

As we slide into Christmas and the New Year, things can get a bit bonkers and treats and snacks slowly become habits. Many people can’t get enough of cranberry sauce, for example, but you should be wary of it, particularly if you’re going through menopause. Cranberry sauce is loaded with sugar, which can make your weight gain and gut problems worse.

In this article, we present you with 5 foods that could make your menopause symptoms worse and are an absolute no no — and some replacements so you still get to enjoy the holiday season!

5 Foods That Could Make Your Menopause Symptoms Worse

Christmas and the holidays in general are not known for being healthy occasions in terms of nutrition. The problem is not the traditional meal itself (which is actually quite healthy!) but the amount of snacks and alcohol people consume around these days (a staggering 5000 calories on Christmas alone! (0).

If you’re worried about your menopause symptoms getting worse, then you’ll need to take care of your food intake during these holidays. Below you can find 5 types of food to avoid during this season and some replacements so you can still enjoy this time with your loved ones!

1. Too Much Alcohol

Champagne, mulled wine, winter’s Pimm and cider are very much a part of the holiday spirit. And let’s not forget about Christmas cocktails! But however delicious and fun these alcoholic drinks may be, let’s not forget they can be real killers when it comes to menopause symptoms, (particularly when drinking too much!). Adding that delicious caramel Baileys to your Christmas morning coffee is not really a good idea!

Alcohol can be a trigger for those terrible hot flashes, leaving you soaked and uncomfortable day and night. But not all women have the same triggers, so while some may experience heightened hot flashes when consuming alcohol, others will not (1).

If you don’t suffer from hot flashes but are concerned about menopause weight gain, then red wine is a better option than bubbly drinks, as it contains almost no sugar.

What are some alternatives to alcoholic drinks for menopausal women? You can have non-alcoholic spirits that taste almost exactly like the original drinks without the nasty side effects (hangover, anyone?).

2. Red Meat

Red meat can be a great source of protein, which is much needed during menopause due to muscle mass loss. But red meat, especially if it’s not organic, can have a lot of hormones and antibiotics that can affect your body. For example, antibiotics present in red meat may have an impact on your gut microbiome (2), bringing about uncomfortable symptoms like stomach cramps, pain, and constipation.

Plus, red meat rich in fat (particularly processed meat) can increase your bad cholesterol levels. This, in turn, increases the risk of suffering from heart disease (3).

So, instead of beef wellington for Christmas dinner or black pudding during breakfast, you can try out healthier options like turkey or chicken. In particular, turkey has a high amount of tryptophan (4), an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin — our feel-good hormone. Have it with sugar-free cranberry sauce and enjoy the holiday season to the fullest. Yummy!

3. Sugar

During this jolly time of the year, chances are you’re eager to try delicious desserts and sweets like copious amounts of chocolate, Christmas pudding, and traditional mince pies. But, as you probably know already, you need to be careful with sugar. In addition to affecting your weight, sugar can create addiction (5). Whenever you eat something sweet, your blood sugar spikes and your brain (whose main source of energy is glucose) will go into overdrive, turning on your addiction sensors. So, every day, it will be more difficult to abandon those trifles you crave for.

Blood sugar spikes are harmful for our health in many ways, such as creating insulin resistance and ultimately, type 2 diabetes. you’d like to prevent these spikes from happening and also avoid rapid weight gain, try to avoid sugar as much as you can. Sugar also aggravates a number of perimenopause symptoms, like hot flashes and poor sleep.

This does not mean you have to become the Grinch and abandon all Christmas sweets. You can cook your own cookies or cranberry sauce and make them sugar-free by using healthier substitutes like stevia or erythritol.

4. Snacking

Menopause weight gain is real, and it happens for a variety of reasons. The most important one is the shift in your hormones, which also modifies your metabolism and makes it harder to burn fat. But this hormonal imbalance can also give you intense cravings that make you eat too much, particularly sweets and snacks (7). This means it will be harder for you to say no to crackers and dips during this holiday season.

So, if you’re craving for a little treat, you should buy some healthy alternatives so you don’t fall into temptation. Nuts, almonds, and cashews are great for snacking, as they contain a lot of protein and can fill you up so you’re not so hungry when it’s dinner time. Nuts, in particular, have omega-3 fatty acids (8), which can help when dealing with typical menopause symptoms like brain fog.

If you don’t particularly enjoy nuts or have an allergy, seeds can also be great snacks. Pumpkin seeds have a lot of zinc and magnesium, which helps with insomnia and supports bone health (9). And let’s not forget about olives, which promote heart health and provide you with iron and calcium (very good for your bones, too!).

5. Refined Carbs

Potato croquettes, tortilla chips, and crisps characterise the holiday season. But keep in mind that these snacks are packed with refined carbohydrates. Once you start, it’s very difficult to stop and you may snack away 500 calories before you notice. Plus, they have a similar effect to sugar and can cause spikes in our blood (10), with all the negative consequences they can bring to your health, including mood swings, low energy, irritability, poor sleep, hot flashes and night sweats.

Look for healthier alternatives: instead of preparing potato croquettes, you can make them out of spinach. And chips and crisps can easily be replaced for nuts, seeds, and olives, as mentioned above. Be creative!

Final Takeaway

Undoubtedly, holidays foods are as delicious as they are dangerous for menopausal women. Hot flashes, weight gain, fatigue due to sugar spikes and irritability are only some of the symptoms that can get a lot worse just for going off the rails with food during the holiday season.

The good news is that you don’t have to completely isolate yourself and eat a salad during Christmas and New Year. Instead, by practicing portion control and replacing common snacks for healthier alternatives, avoiding alcohol and reducing your red meat intake can do wonders for your menopause symptoms. In this way, you’ll be able to enjoy the holiday season without having to worry about your health and well-being.


0. Hodgkin, E. (2016, December 9). Britons set to GORGE on 5,000 calories at tonight’s Christmas party.
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