We all know that eating a healthy diet is supportive of hormone balance and overall well-being, but what exactly does that mean?
I find it really frustrating that there are so many different types of “diets” out there that are claiming to be the healthiest and best way to achieve “optimal health” (which is quite relative for most people).
In my opinion, living a healthy and balanced life hits these main markers:
- A healthy menstrual cycle – of course!
- Optimal digestion:
- going to the bathroom at least once a day
- a reduction in bloating/gas
- proper absorption of nutrients
- Feeling full, balanced, and energized after each meal
- Having STEADY energy throughout the day
- Waking up feeling refreshed in the morning
- Feeling a reduction in pain/inflammation in the body
- Feeling emotionally grounded and stable
- A general feeling of happiness and contentment with life and your higher-self
So in order to check-off many of the boxes above, nutrition is definitely going to play an important role.
Food is a foundational step towards a hormonally balanced and healthy lifestyle.
But, again, what does that truly mean?
Essentially, what we eat falls into two main categories: macronutrients and micronutrients.
The building blocks that nourish our cells and help our bodies function optimally.
But even though food is so important, I personally think we make the struggle of “what to eat” way more difficult than it needs to be.
I’ve been there (multiple times) so I get it.
I’ve been in this health and hormone balancing game for many years now and I have tried/experimented with all the things.
Partially for my own hormone research and partially out of personal desperation – haha.
So when it comes down to balanced nutrition, I have done my fair share of trial and error.
And here is the main conclusion I have come up with…
Following dogmatic and restrictive rules is NEVER the answer.
Because it usually means you’re restricting major food groups from your diet and that is never a good thing (unless you have an allergy and that is different).
For example, when I was paleo, I was hardly getting any bioavailable vitamin A because I was eliminating all dairy.
When I tried to go vegan, I struggled with some of the worst mental health I had experienced in a long time because I wasn’t consuming important amino acids in animal protein to support my neurotransmitters.
When I experimented with low-carb, my hormones struggled to keep up, and I was putting a ton of stress on my body/thyroid.
When I finally settled on experimenting with the pro-metabolic diet (that I generally really like) I realized that adding in more carbs and less fat for my body, personally, did not feel good at all. In fact, I felt really bloated and generally inflamed.
Also, I like PUFAs – lol. So, I’m not giving up all the nuts/seeds and salmon, ok?!
The reason I’m sharing these scenarios is because following “the rules” of any diet most likely means you’re restricting foods you don’t need to be restricting and possibly consuming ratios of foods that may or may not serve your unique body.
So what is the solution?
Generally stick to whole, colorful, nourishing foods and learn how to truly LISTEN and understand your body’s internal/external clues.
Now, hear me out before you roll your eyes at me 🤪
I’ve learned that there is some truth and goodness in all of these so-called “life changing diets” I mentioned above.
The one thing that most of them have in common is focusing on eating whole, less-processed, more nutrient-dense foods.
And NOTHING is wrong with that!
Actually, I’m a huge fan of that.
But, what all fad (or lifestyle) diets ALSO have in common is oftentimes restriction.
That is where the issues lie.
Because where there is restriction, there also is a ton of guilt/pressure/perfectionism that follows.
So I’m going to share what has been working the best for me and for many of my clients…
Simply choose whole, nutrient-dense foods, and focus on eating food that makes your body feel GOOD.
If dairy or gluten upsets your stomach and causes you to feel bloated, then you can choose not to eat it.
But here is the kicker… YOU are choosing. Not the diet.
If you notice that you feel better when you focus on eating less carbs/sugar and you find your energy is way more stable with less carbohydrates – do it girl!
I want us to live in a world where we can make loving choices and changes to our diet from a place of empowerment and not fad dieting or guilt.
So, here are a few steps you can take to create a more loving relationship with food and support your body/hormones in the process:
- Protein Swaps: Pick a few core meals for each week and then experiment with rotating your proteins so you get a variety of macronutrients and micronutrients. Ex: Taco Tuesday can look like beef tacos, fish tacos, chicken tacos, depending on the week!
- Keep a Food Journal: If you are new to “listening to your body’s cues” I would encourage you to keep a food journal so you can start tracking what foods make you feel good and what foods make you feel… not so good.
- Keep Blood Sugar Balanced: Yes, it’s that important that I am going to say it again. Focus on getting a variety of protein/fat/carb at each meal. More details on this here + here.
- Avoid Elimination UNLESS: you’re noticing that you have a sensitivity or a true allergy to something. This is why keeping a food journal can be so helpful! You can note any physical discomfort and mental/energy changes following your meals.
- Try Cookbooks: This has been a game changer for me. It helps me get creative and gives me ideas for new meals. This keeps cooking exciting and also helps me get in more variety. I try to buy cookbooks that focus on primarily whole foods – like Cook Once Dinner Fix (you can listen to our podcast episode here!).
- Get on Pinterest: Like cookbooks, Pinterest is an amazing way to get new food ideas that focus on healthy, whole, nourishing recipes. And it’s free! I have a ton of meal and snack ideas pinned here.
I hope you find these tips helpful.
Just remember, you don’t need to follow a specific “fad diet” to “fix” your body and live a healthy and hormone happy life.
If you’re looking for coaching support and guidance – you can schedule a free discovery call with me here!