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Menopause and Your Holiday Meals sooner did you catch a passing glance at the autumn leaves, than it’s time for the holidays—stressful under the best of times but even more so when menopausal hormones wreak havoc with your mind and body.

This season, you committed to hosting the holiday dinner. So, in between frenetic shopping, cookie baking, house decorating and an endless round of parties, how do you keep it together, so that when the doorbell rings, you’re not wishing you had a ticket to Tahiti?

First of all that ‘I’ve got to be perfect,’ mantra needs to take a hike because sometimes good enough is perfect.

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 over tax you or your wallet. One year, I only made the turkey and asked everyone to bring a 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 over eating (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, there’s always time for a little fun! One study in Oregon found that a drink every now and again is good for your bones. As if you need an excuse for a good Merlot!

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. Having a few quiet moments with no TV or email for some quiet 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 in 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.

Your bedroom is your sanctuary, so leave that ever-present cell phone charging on the kitchen counter.

Researchers will tell you that being on electronics right before bedtime lights up your brain, at just the time you need those receptors in your gray matter to be winding down.

A Little Social Time

Laughter is good for the soul! Encourage your family members to try out their best jokes between courses. Realize, too, that life will always get crazy. It’s how you respond to the bumps in the road that separates the girls from the women.

So, this year, enjoy the pleasure of your own company…and theirs! Happy Holidays!

Ellen Dolgen

<b>Ellen Dolgen</b>, menopause education is a mission. Spurred by her own experience struggling with the symptoms of menopause, Dolgen has devoted the last ten years of her life to helping other women during this often difficult time. While she’s not a doctor or scientist, she’s “talked the talk” with countless menopause experts, so that she can “walk the menopause walk” and share the keys to this menopause kingdom. Together with her son, Jack, she created a FREE eBook, <a href="">MENOPAUSE MONDAYS <em>The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause</em></a>, a comprehensive guide to all things menopause—the symptoms, the treatments, and the long-range effects on a woman’s health. Dolgen shares the expertise of numerous specialists to replace confusion and embarrassment with medically sound solutions, presented in an entertaining and informative way.