Eating For Hormonal Homeostasis
For Hormonal Balance, These Foods Should Be In Heavy Rotation
When I began studying nutrition I was years away from peri/menopause but it was increasingly on my mind. I knew that the connection between food and happy hormones was a strong one. In between then and now, I received an autoimmune diagnosis and struggled to manage flare ups. When perimenopause came into play in full swing, the combination became really miserable. I'm not a doctor but I do enjoy looking at things with a clinical mind and every time I experienced a flare up I took a close look at what might have been going to help trigger it. The triggers, I learned, are always the same: stress, lack of sleep, food. All contribute to increased inflammation in the body. Being that I studied nutrition, you Gals know food is my jump off point for remedy and support. With that, I can also say that every time I had a flare up, I was also eating crap. A lot of crap. You all know I like my sweets! Refined sugar, alcohol, dairy, they all had to go. I knew it. My perimenopausal symptoms are so much louder when I give into those sugar cravings, you know? Frustrating weight fluctuations, mood swings, hormonal breakouts, fatigue, these all get worse and harder to manage, just like my arthritis, when I'm not dedicated to feeding myself right. And here's the thing: it's not a chore. And I don't want it to be for you. Committing to your health is a gift. Treating your body right is a form of self respect, self love, self care, whichever you wanna call it, that's what it is! Veering off the nutritional rails is risky business for us midlife ladies. It’s virtually inviting in ALL the symptoms we collectively mutter under our breaths about. The migraines, the bloating, the low energy, blah, blah, you know what I'm talking about. And honestly, maybe it's not always a "mutter," sometimes we rage, don't we?
Here are my food suggestions for re-balancing your hormones. We GOTTA eat FOR our hormones, ya dig?! We can’t wrestle hormones into submission. We can’t get them in check if we’re not feeding them gently and consistently with foods that support and temper their misbehaving tendencies. Consuming the following on a regular basis is steady and easy and tried and true and if you're looking to balance your hormones, take a look at your plate and start there. You likely know these foods to be in your hormonal favor already because you've heard about them for years! It may seem redundant and boring but don't tune it out! Plug back in to eating these foods on high rotation. And remember this: the gut is where virtually all hormones are secreted, inhibited and produced. When your estrogen and progesterone levels are wonky, start balancing from the gut.
Avocados: Agreed by many to be a perfect food, avocados are high in healthy fat (omega-3), fiber, and nutrients like B vitamins and potassium. People who eat a diet rich in avocados have a decreased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, they enjoy lower triglycerides and higher "good" cholesterol. Eating this healthy fat also keeps you satiated longer so you're less apt to reach for crap because you're "hangry."
Citrus Fruits: Lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits all help to keep you hydrated, a problem for menopausal women, did you know that? Also, these fruits help keep night sweats and hot flashes at bay. The high amount of antioxidants in citrus fruits also help to keep that middle age waistline in check. Bang.
Salmon: How often can I tell you to eat salmon? It’s so annoying already, right?! Well, eat it anyway. Not only is salmon high in protein but it’s also anti-inflammatory and high in omega-3 fatty acids (the healthy kind of fat). Also, keep in mind, you want a bit more protein in peri/meno to protect against loss of muscle mass. High quality salmon is a perfect protein rich food.
Nuts: Rich in healthy Omega-3 fats, nuts help to lower inflammation and are a perfect snack between meals because they fill you up without spiking your blood sugar. Gals, we don’t want to eat things that will spike our blood sugar! And, although nuts are a higher calorie food, studies have shown that women who consume nuts experience a greater decrease in waist size than women who don’t. Don’t be afraid of the “calories” in nuts. Just don’t gorge on them. A cupped, palm-full is plenty for a snack. Along with carrot sticks, you’ll be stuffed and not craving sweets. Or, add a pinch of seeds, like, pumpkin or sesame, over ANY meal and you’ll feel satisfied and even keeled all day, every day.
Leafy Greens: Salads shouldn’t be a drag but if you’re anything like me, you feel kind of “meh” about them. I think it’s the prep work actually. As much as I love to prep my ingredients before cooking them there’s something about a salad that feels so…..uninspired? I don’t know. But whatever, ya gotta eat your greens! My tip for getting your greens in without any fuss: toss a handful of arugula or kale or spinach on top of WHATEVER you’re eating! Seriously, whatever it easy, toss on some kinda green. I do this every morning with spinach. Steel cuts oats, turkey sausage with a handful of spinach on top. Easy peasy. If its eggs on the menu, toss a handful of chosen greens in the pan just before serving. Let them wilt or not! Soup? Throw those greens on top! Dinner? Ditto that. Roll ups? Yup, you got it. Use a hearty green leaf, for that roll up, baby. Low in calories but high in everything else: fiber, calcium, vitamin D, minerals, leafy greens reduce the risk of obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease and high blood pressure. Don’t make prepping a salad your reason for not getting your greens in. They need not be so complicated.
Oats: Now hang on there, sister! Some of you may read this and be thinking, "Oats are carbs. No WAY!" Fine, I get it if you're off the carb train and eating strictly keto. If it's working for you, awesome! If you're anything like me however, you're still finding that you just don't feel so great with the absence of high quality carbs and maintaining a low carb diet is not cutting the mustard. The thing that I found was tricky for quite a time was determining which carbs were in my best interest. A slice of toast, even a gluten free, high quality brand of bread with breakfast left me feeling unsatisfied and quite frankly hungry soon after I ate it! The processed grains, like bread and pasta, do that to the bod so, skip those, they're just sugar in the end. What does make me feel full and satisfied and ready for a workout? Oats! Steel cut, to be exact. Another great option, the lovely sweet potato. Quinoa might be worth trying as well if you're down for that. But back to oats. The nutritional benefits are great as oats contain: protein, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate and B vitamins. Whoa, right? High in fiber, antioxidants and naturally gluten free, oats lower your risk of heart disease and reduce blood sugar levels. You know what else? They keep you fuller, longer than that slice of bread. Their soluble fiber is beta-glucan, which has been shown to help slow digestion, increase a feeling of fullness, and suppress appetite. Say what?! Yup. I season mine with vanilla extract and cinnamon and yum! No need for any sweetener, at all! The reason I choose "steel-cut" over "rolled oats?" It's not the end of the world and I have rolled in the pantry too, but, it's all about the processing. Steel cut oats are just a wee bit less processed and therefore are truer to their natural self. Rolled oats are steamed and then rolled flat. With steel cut oats, the process starts with the entire grain put through steel blades that slice the oat kernel. That's it. As a result, steel cut oats are chewier, denser and retain more fiber and protein than rolled oats. No biggie, but just for your info, ya know?
Oh! And don't forget to eat your broccoli! I'll do an entire post on broccoli another time, but trust me, you want to add this to your plate. Don't go wild eating it raw! You don't want to tax your thyroid BUT, get it in, roasted, sauteed or steamed, at least a few times a week!
Happy, healthy eating Gals, xo