Ah, the holiday season. Twinkling lights, festive music, and the joyous…personal heatwave in the middle of December? Yes, welcome to surviving menopause!
If you’re experiencing this transition during the holidays, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, sugar cravings, brain fog, and mood swings can be compounded by the season’s potential stress of familial tension, inconsistent schedules, decadent foods, and cocktails.
The key to navigating menopause during the holidays? Managing your blood-sugar levels.
When your blood sugar spikes after high-sugar-impact foods and beverages, you're in for a rollercoaster ride (and not the fun kind). The inevitable crash triggers hunger, cravings, low energy, and irritability.
Interestingly, many signs of blood-sugar dysregulation overlap with menopausal symptoms.1 Managing blood sugar during menopause can significantly improve those symptoms, holiday stress, and your overall well-being.
1. Hot Flashes
The last thing you want to bring to the holiday party is a hot flash. Throw in a glass or two of pinot noir, high-carb snacks, and a stuffy room, and your likelihood of experiencing this discomfort rises.
Steady blood-sugar levels can help manage hot flashes and other menopausal miseries.2 Some practical suggestions help here, too. Arrive at the party satisfied but not stuffed, watch the alcohol and spicy foods, and dress in layers. With hot flashes, a chilly room can quickly descend into an inferno. Be prepared!
2. Sleep Issues
Late-night gatherings and other holiday obligations can make restless nights even more challenging during menopause. Blood-sugar imbalances only make things worse. For one, you're more likely to have to pee at night. You can thank your overworking kidneys for that. When your blood-sugar levels stay high, your kidneys overcompensate by causing you to urinate more often. This is your body’s way to keep blood sugar within a tight, safe range.3
Menopause symptoms and frequent middle-of-night bathroom visits can make sleep difficult. Bad sleep further disrupts your blood sugar, worsening symptoms, causing cravings, and setting the stage for insulin resistance.
Just because the party goes into the wee hours doesn’t mean you have to! Try to keep your regular sleep schedule as much as possible, and always get eight hours of solid, uninterrupted sleep every night. Create a sleep-friendly environment by keeping your bedroom dark, quiet, and cool.
The Optimal Sleep Kit contains three supplements (Sleep Candy™, Magnesium Body Calm, and All-In-One Shake) that help you fall asleep faster, stay asleep through the night, and wake up feeling rested.*
3. Sugar Cravings
Blood-sugar balance plays a crucial role in preventing the energy crashes that often follow a spike in blood sugar, which can trigger sugar cravings as the body seeks a rapid energy boost. Estrogen also contributes to improved insulin sensitivity, allowing the body to regulate blood-sugar levels effectively.
However, during menopause, when estrogen levels decline, blood-sugar regulation can be negatively affected. This hormonal shift can lead to less effective blood-sugar control, potentially resulting in fluctuations that contribute to sugar cravings.
Estrogen also plays a role in regulating serotonin, your feel-good hormone. When estrogen levels drop significantly during menopause, serotonin levels can also decrease. Low serotonin levels may lead to feelings of sadness, anxiety, or depression, which can, in turn, increase emotional eating—and not for healthy stuff.4
L-glutamine is my secret weapon against sugar cravings because it helps maintain steady blood sugar levels. Glutamine Powder provides therapeutic amounts of this multitasking amino acid in a convenient powder form that mixes easily into your favorite liquid or loaded smoothie.*
4. Brain Fog
Forgetting to run an errand or inability to concentrate during an important meeting can make an already hectic day more frustrating. Low estrogen levels impact hormones like serotonin and dopamine, making you mentally foggy and moody.
Estrogen isn’t the only culprit: blood-sugar imbalances also contribute to brain fog, making concentrating harder.5
5. Mood Swings
Mood swings are a common menopausal symptom that holiday stress, family dynamics, and hormonal fluctuations only make worse. Unstable blood-sugar levels can further contribute to mood changes by impacting your hormones, leaving you feeling angry, sad, or nervous.6
Taking Control of Menopause During The Holidays
When you stabilize your blood sugar, surviving menopause during the holidays becomes much easier. These strategies help you make the most of this festive season while minimizing menopausal discomfort.
Protein is your holiday miracle for balancing blood sugar, managing menopausal symptoms, and curbing the cravings that sabotage your best intentions. If you’re not consciously tracking your protein, you’re likely not getting enough, especially as your protein needs increase as you age.
A flexible metabolism, bone health, hormone balance, staying mobile and active, insulin sensitivity, and much more depend on strong muscle. After 30, you lose muscle mass at a rate of 3-8% every decade.7 Low protein intake only increases that breakdown. The answer is to make every meal the magic trifecta of protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
- Get 30-50 grams of protein at every meal.
- Like protein, fiber helps steady blood-sugar levels to keep you full longer. Aim for 35-50 grams of fiber daily (start where you are and slowly increase every other day to avoid digestive upset). Fiber helps steady blood sugar, supports a healthy gut, and helps remove excess hormones like estrogen from your body so they don’t unsafely accumulate.
- Healthy fats (especially omega-3 fatty acids in fatty fish, flax and chia seeds, and walnuts) can help reduce mood swings, anxiety, and depression that you may experience during menopause.
Omega Plus provides 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, with very high amounts of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Vitamin E isomers as Delta Gold® ensures freshness. You get all the benefits of EPA and DHA in one easy-to-take softgel.*
Try having a loaded smoothie to make sure you have stable blood-sugar levels before the party. The protein, fat, and fiber will help keep you fuller longer so you’re less likely to overdo it on the appetizers. (My Hot Flash-Halting Protein Shake can save the day!)
If you’re eating dinner at the event and have a variety to choose from, look for protein-packed foods like grilled chicken and bacon-wrapped scallops.
Incorporate the Right Exercise
Prioritizing fitness during the holidays can help manage stress, blood-sugar levels, and menopausal symptoms. Research shows that consistent strength training can improve bone mineral density, reduce the frequency of hot flashes, and help you maintain a healthy weight.8
You don’t need a gym to get those benefits, either. Invest in dumbbells or a TRX suspension trainer for a great at-home workout.
Ditch the time excuse, too! You can do a complete high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout, which complements strength training, in less time than it takes to find a parking space during the holidays.
My FREE Resistance Training Cheat Sheet provides everything you need for your fitness journey, including home-gym essentials, an eight-week workout plan, and a progress tracker to track your sets, reps, and weights with each workout.
Schedule Stress Management
Chronic stress worsens menopause symptoms, while managing stress can improve those symptoms.9
With a positive mindset, you can overcome challenges, change negative patterns, reduce stress, enhance relationships, and spark growth. It can even affect your physical wellness, helping you manage stress, soothe chronic pain, get better sleep, and so much more. In short, it can help you live a happier and healthier life. In 20 Ways to Master Your Mindset, you’ll learn how to incorporate mindset-shifting moments into your daily life so you can start changing your outlook—and your future.
Get the Right Nutrient Support
A few key nutrients can help balance your blood sugar, manage stress, and alleviate menopausal symptoms. My go-to supplements include:
- Magnesium. I call magnesium the ahhh mineral. This multitasking mineral manages stress, sleep, blood-sugar balance, and more. Magnesium Body Calm provides 300mg of highly bioavailable magnesium bisglycinate chelate for superior absorption and no unpleasant GI distress like some magnesium forms can create.*
- Berberine. This plant compound can help regulate blood sugar, improve insulin resistance, and reduce harmful inflammation.10 Blood Sugar Support combines berberine with the powerful antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) to improve insulin sensitivity, blood-sugar balance, and heart health.*
- GABA. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a calming brain chemical or neurotransmitter. GABA supplements can provide that same calmness and relaxation, reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.11 Take Ten Stress Support is your anti-stress ally, formulated with GABA, glycine, and the B vitamins niacinamide, pantothenic acid, and vitamin B6 to shift your mood from blah to bliss.*
Let friends, colleagues, and family know about your needs and limitations when it comes to your health.
Be open about how menopause affects you and what support you need. Saying no is perfectly healthy for staying sane during the holidays (or any time!). It's okay to step away from a social gathering to cool down or recharge.
When it comes to food and festivities, planning can help you navigate the season more sanely. Planning meals ahead of time can help you avoid giving in to last-minute takeout after a long day of shopping or getting stuck at work late.
Yes, Merry and Menopause Can Go Together
Managing blood-sugar levels can be a game-changer for menopausal challenges during the holidays. Fluctuating hormones can lead to mood swings, energy dips, and weight gain. Blood-sugar balance helps stabilize mood, boost energy, and curb cravings. When all else fails, remember: this, too, will pass. Menopause is a life transition, not a permanent state.
Need some additional support? These resources can help you manage menopause any time of the year.
- 7 Tips to Help You Feel Your Best During Menopause
- Best Food Swaps for Menopause Symptoms
- Which Supplements Are Best for Menopause?
- How to Avoid Menopause Belly
- How to Balance Your Hormones Naturally
Our Menopause Support packet combines annatto, geranylgeraniol (GG), DIM, and CoQ10 as ubiquinone. This unique antioxidant supports energy production in your cells that can protect against free radical damage and even recycle other antioxidants. Each convenient pack serves the unique needs of each stage of menopause, making it easy to ensure you don’t miss a day of great health.*
- Dormire SL. The potential role of glucose transport changes in hot flash physiology: a hypothesis. Biol Res Nurs. 2009 Jan;10(3):241-7. doi: 10.1177/1099800408324558. Epub 2008 Nov 17. PMID: 19017668; PMCID: PMC2767392.
- Sleep Foundation: Diabetes and Sleep: Sleep Disturbances & Coping
- Inam QU, Ikram H, Shireen E, Haleem DJ. Effects of sugar rich diet on brain serotonin, hyperphagia and anxiety in animal model of both genders. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2016 May;29(3):757-63. PMID: 27166525.
- Healthline: Brain Fog and Diabetes: What's the Connection?
- University of Michigan School of Public Health: Is Your Mood Disorder a Symptom of Unstable Blood Sugar?
- Volpi E, Nazemi R, Fujita S. Muscle tissue changes with aging. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Jul;7(4):405-10. doi: 10.1097/01.mco.0000134362.76653.b2. PMID: 15192443; PMCID: PMC2804956.
- Sá KMM, da Silva GR, Martins UK, Colovati MES, Crizol GR, Riera R, Pacheco RL, Martimbianco ALC. Resistance training for postmenopausal women: systematic review and meta-analysis. Menopause. 2023 Jan 1;30(1):108-116. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000002079. Epub 2022 Oct 25. PMID: 36283059.
- Arnot M, Emmott EH, Mace R. The relationship between social support, stressful events, and menopause symptoms. PLoS One. 2021 Jan 27;16(1):e0245444. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0245444. PMID: 33503073; PMCID: PMC7840006.
- Cao C, Su M. Effects of berberine on glucose-lipid metabolism, inflammatory factors and insulin resistance in patients with metabolic syndrome. Exp Ther Med. 2019 Apr;17(4):3009-3014. doi: 10.3892/etm.2019.7295. Epub 2019 Feb 22. PMID: 30936971; PMCID: PMC6434235.
- Cleveland Clinic: Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
The views in this blog by JJ Virgin should never be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. Please work with a healthcare practitioner concerning any medical problem or concern. The information here is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or condition. Statements contained here have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.