Yes – this IS possible and isn’t it a great and empowering thing!! We cannot change the fact that our hormones are declining and fluctuating during our journey to menopause and beyond, but we can definitely do a lot to improve how our bodies respond to these inevitable changes and how our journeys play out.
Nothing impacts our hormonal balance like our diet – let me repeat NOTHING. What we eat and when we eat throughout the day can either help balance our hormones or cause unpredictable and rollercoaster-like imbalances leading to a constellation of symptoms I’m sure you know all too well:
- Stubborn hormonal weight gain
- Belly fat and bloat (the infamous Menobelly)
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Hot flashes and night sweats
- Flatlined libido
- etc., etc…
Hormone-unfriendly, inflammatory and toxic foods such as sugar and refined foods that quickly turn to sugar wreak havoc on our hormones. Skipping meals or waiting too long between meals and eating too few calories can further imbalance our hormones causing blood sugar fluctuations, fatigue, moodiness, increased cravings and a decreased metabolism.
When it comes to eating for our individual hormonal balance, everyone is different as we all have our own unique biochemistry, metabolisms, wellness issues and nutritional needs. Here are some general tips for helping you to naturally balance your hormones through your diet.
- Eat: Although it may sound like a good plan to starve yourself to shed excess weight and belly fat – it’s not! Your body needs calories to function efficiently and will slow down your metabolism as a protective mechanism if you deprive it. In addition, depriving yourself of food usually results in a a full-on, late-day never-ending snack attack and a “food baby” to take to bed and wake up with – ewww! Food was meant to be pleasurable so make good choices and enjoy. Do not skip meals, especially breakfast, or eat less than 1500 calories per day. If you are practicing intermittent fasting, start with a 13-hour overnight fast and if that feels good, you can push back your breakfast for an hour or 2 as long as you are not experiencing blood sugar lows, increased cravings for carbs or increased hunger later in the day.
- Prioritize Protein: Eating adequate amounts of protein throughout the day is essential for balancing your blood sugar, nourishing your adrenal glands, repairing DNA and making hormones. In addition, protein acts as a natural diuretic and helps to push out excess water (think bloat), as well as, rev up your fat-burning metabolism. Start your day off with a protein-rich breakfast and follow that up with adequate amounts of clean, lean protein throughout the day. Aim for a total of 1 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight spread evenly throughout the day to keep your metabolic fire burning, your energy up and your cravings at bay. This number is dependent on your weight and physical activity level. Examples include: lean poultry, grass-fed meats, eggs and egg whites, wild fish, legumes, nuts and seeds, high-quality protein powders, minimally-processed plant-based proteins.
- Don’t Be Fat Phobic: Dietary fat has been the subject of a lot of controversy over the years but it’s finally being celebrated for the nutritional rock star that it is. Your body needs high-quality, healthy fats to function optimally. Among their many important roles, they help to keep you satisfied and your appetite in check, balance your blood sugar, reduce inflammation and are essential for producing and regulating your hormones. Aim to consume a portion of healthy fats with each meal. Examples include: raw nuts and seeds, nut butters, organic oils such as olive, grape seed, avocado, walnut and coconut), avocados, olives and of course wild fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel.
- Fill Up On Fiber: Fiber is important for so many reasons and most of us don’t get enough of it. Obviously it helps with elimination and keeping our guts clean and healthy and slowing down the breakdown of our food into sugar, but it is also essential for keeping our hormones balanced. Fiber acts as a binder by attaching to excess hormones in the body and helps to remove them through our colon. If we don’t consume enough in our daily diets, then instead of being eliminated, excess hormones can be reabsorbed back into the body resulting in hormone imbalances. Aim for getting at least 25 grams per day, increasing slowly and making sure to increase your water intake as well. Healthy choices include high-fiber complex carbs such as sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, legumes, all non-starchy veggies and high-fiber fruits.
- Spice Things Up!: Adding spices like cayenne pepper, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, Celtic or Himalayan sea salt, cardamom, fennel, coriander, saffron, rosemary and turmeric to your food have been shown to have hormone-nourishing and balancing effects. Aim for using several different spices per day. After all, variety is the spice of life!
- Hydrate Throughout The Day: We are made up mostly of water. Water helps dissolve and remove impurities from our blood and assist in the uptake of nutrients so it stands to reason that hydration is crucial if we want to be optimally healthy – hormonally as well. When we are dehydrated, we release our appetite stimulating hormones which increases our craving for sweets and decreases our metabolism. Drinking water, especially before meals has been shown to not only help fill you up but raise your metabolism by 30 percent within 10 minutes of drinking it. Aim for drinking approximately 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water per day to be optimally hydrated. Good choices are pure water, mineral water, herbal teas and low-sodium broths.
Let’s chat about how I can help you eat for your own personal hormonal balance, shed that excess hormonal weight and feel like yourself again – WooHoo!!