Hormones, Hot Flashes and Holiday Fare
By Kate Crosby, BS, CNP
December 7, 2016
‘Tis the season to celebrate, but for many women the holidays are a time of great discomfort. We sweat, get red and our hair may drip because we have hot flashes. Have you ever thought that what you are eating can contribute to your hot flashes? Let’s take a look at how hormones and hot flashes are affected by holiday food and follow up with recommendations for reducing your hot flashes this season.
A little background on hot flashes and menopause
Hot flashes are a common symptom of menopause, a time when the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, can become unbalanced. Ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone, but levels of estrogen do not decline as much as progesterone because other body tissues can still produce estrogen. Fat cells and adrenal glands continue to produce estrogen, but progesterone production halts. This is when women become estrogen dominant and may have hot flashes, irregular periods, headaches, water retention and depression.
What do holiday treats have to do with my hot flashes?
Holiday foods, like cookies, candies, hot chocolate and mulled wine, are full of carbohydrates, which turn into sugar in your body. Sugar affects your estrogen level by increasing it, then suddenly dropping it. It’s this sudden drop of estrogen that creates a hot flash.
I recall my friend’s dramatic hot flash after she started drinking a glass of wine. Within a few minutes her face turned red and was wet. She was frustrated by the number of hot flashes she has in a day. It never occurred to her that the wine was causing her hot flash. Hot flashes can be brought on by eating Christmas cookies or plum pudding, or by drinking hot chocolate or wine. Consuming these sugar-producing foods and beverages ultimately causes a drop in estrogen in your body and BAM: you have a hot flash. So at this time of year, when holiday treats are everywhere you go, it’s especially important to monitor your carbohydrate consumption.
In addition, we recommend using a bio-identical progesterone cream, like Pro Gest® to balance the estrogen dominance. Many women experience renewed libido, deep sleep and hot flash reduction after using progesterone cream.
Hot-flash-free holiday strategy
So, what is a good strategy for reducing hot flashes this holiday season, a time full of celebration and tradition? Your recipe for a hot-flash-free holiday season needs to include these three ingredients:
- Eat in balance BEFORE attending a party: Have a snack including protein, fat and carbohydrate. Whenever you go to a party, have something balanced to eat before you go. A healthy snack of cheese, olives and half an apple may keep your blood sugar stable, which keeps your hormones more balanced. This strategy also reduces the urge to eat carbohydrates at the party.
- Plan ahead: Bring alternative beverages and appetizers so you can avoid the holiday treats that create hot flashes. Decide ahead of time what you will drink at the event. Mineral water with lemon or lime would be a good choice. If it is appropriate, bring mineral water that you like. I enjoy Metromint®, a potent, mint-flavored water with essential oil and no sweetener. Many of my clients love the coconut-flavored Mendota Springs water. Instead of hot chocolate, mulled wine or cider, try the Good Earth® Original™ Sweet & Spicy™ Tea & Herb Blend, a flavorful cinnamon spice tea. You may also offer to bring an appetizer of deviled eggs, along with veggies and dip.
- Use progesterone cream: Get back in balance with a progesterone cream, like Pro Gest, to balance your estrogen and progesterone hormones.
All of us at Nutritional Weight & Wellness wish you the happiest—hot-flash-free—holidays!