My entire life, my business, my daily schedule and my eating habits are all focused on keeping my hormones in balance. Why, as women especially, do we even care that our hormones are balanced? First, we need to understand how they play a role in our lives. Hormones send messages to your brain; hormones are created by the glands that make up your endocrine system. This system in your body essentially controls how we feel on a physical, mental and emotional level. It’s pretty important!
When our hormones are not produced correctly, we experience all types of issues including menstrual issues, weight loss or gain, emotional mood swings, lack of libido, lack of energy, anxiety, depression and so much more. I want to share with you just 5 simple changes you can make in your daily diet that will significantly optimize your hormonal balance. There are tons of other things you can do, but let’s embrace the fact that life gets crazy and we can’t all completely uproot our daily regimen at the drop of a hat!
So, here are my TOP FIVE life-changing switches for balancing hormones:
1. Break up with your daily cup of coffee. Just kidding; who wants to do that? But, switch to decaf instead!
Why: caffeine affects your adrenal glands, it increases your risk of osteoporosis (because it increases loss of calcium), increases symptoms of PMS and anxiety, increased risk of ovarian cancer (because of polycyclic hydrocarbons created during the roasting process of coffee beans).
2. Hydration Station. Switch to spring water.
Why: Our bodies are made of 60% water; water is how fluid, blood, hormones, and cells move through our body. It’s only natural that when we drink “bad” water, we feel bad. Many of us drink filtered tap water, straight from the sink, to the filter to our stomachs. But there are a few concerns that I’ve found in drinking filtered water. Filters kill both the good stuff and the bad stuff. Water is alive, just like we are; and natural water has tons of minerals that our bodies need to survive. But when we filter our water, we are essentially killing it, drinking dead water. Water is life! When anyone makes the switch from filtered water to natural spring water, they rarely go back to their old ways. That’s because spring water (full of natural minerals from the earth) has a taste and it quenches your thirst. To me, it tastes sweet. I noticed a difference in how much water I was drinking, also. When I drink my spring water, I don’t need as much to quench my thirst. Another tip, use clean, filtered or spring water when cooking as well because when water is heated the impurities get concentrated. You don’t want to cancel out the nutrients of your food with impure H20!
3. Bread, where for art thou Bread? Make the switch to sprouted or sourdough bread.
Why: Let’s face it, we all love our bread. Many of us eat some form of bread for breakfast, lunch and perhaps even dinner. However, many of us cannot properly digest most commercially made bread. Our bodies turn it into starch which in turn causes bloating, gas, stomachaches and gives the pancreas a lot of work to do. The pancreas is one of the glands of your endocrine system (remember this system that helps control hormones?) and it produces digestive enzymes as well as insulin that helps regulate our blood sugar. Do you ever have moments throughout the day where you CRASH? Where it feels like your brain is all fuzzy and you just want to rest? Do you ever have dizzy spells? One of the most common hormonal imbalances in blood sugar levels. When we switch from conventional bread to sprouted or sourdough bread, our body recognizes it as more of a vegetable than a starch. So the pancreas doesn’t have to work as hard and it can keep on making sure our blood sugars are stable. Sprouted and sourdough breads contain probiotics that increase gut health. So, the next time you buy that loaf of bread, either get sprouted bread in the freezer section, or check out the bakery for a loaf of sourdough!
4. We like it RAW. Cheese, that is.
Why: I don’t know about you but I LOVE cheese. Give me a loaf of sourdough and a block of raw cheese and I’m a happy woman. However, most cheeses that you get in the grocery store are created from conventional milk (milk that is heated to kill bad AND good bacteria). Many menstrual issues stem from a lack of good fats in the diet and this includes both physical and emotional ups and downs during a menstrual cycle. Eating raw cheese is a great and tasty way to ensure you’re getting enough healthy fats; Nutrients are transported through the body via fats; so no matter how many vegetables you eat, if you’re not getting fats, you aren’t receiving the nutrients your body needs.
There’s an old adage “milk is blood” and many understand that the only difference between real milk and blood, is the color. Milk contains growth hormones, protein, vitamins and minerals, enzymes, and fat. It contains what we need to be healthy. So, instead of skipping the cheese, just go raw! Most grocery stores (at least the Central Markets here in Texas) signify their raw cheeses with an R on the front of the shelf. If you don’t find any, just ask the person working in the dairy section!
5. Sugar Baby. Replace it with honey or dates instead!
Why: THE most profound change I’ve experienced because of a change in diet was when I stopped eating sugar. And I’m not alone. Since 2010, we are consuming less sugar, each year. However, the average person still consumes around 100 pounds of sugar a year! When you consume sugar, you experience a (very temporary) spikein serotonin and endorphins (feel good hormones). But then, your sugar levels fall causing you tochase that sugar high again. It’s a vicious cycle that exacerbates everything from PMS to anxiety to depression to overactive thyroids and more. To create harmony and balance between your body and your brain, blood sugar levels need to be stabilized. When you eat table sugar, your body requires almost nothing to turn that into fat. But when you eat honey, it’s full of more complex sugars and your body has to do some work to break it down.
I realize that it can be really hard to not have sugar in the house, so try replacing it with honey. You can literally use honey instead of sugar in 99% of all baking recipes! Once you feel comfortable using honey (it took almost a year for me to feel comfortable with the switch!), you can then switch to dates. They are even more complex and are a fruit so your body will do even more work to break them down. Dates are amazing in pretty much all desserts, as a sweetener in yogurt, and as a filling in cookies!
Here are some of my favorite desserts I make using dates!