Let’s get real here. Fad diets and quick fixes…they just don’t work! Do you REALLY want to tone up and slim down for your next beach holiday or big event? And, wouldn’t it be lovely to actually STAY toned up and slimmed down for the rest of your life?
Like, imagine NOT coming home 5-10 pounds heavier from vacation! Imagine feeling AMAZING every single day. Wait…imagine NOT worrying about bikinis and shorts before spring or summer hits!
It’s totally possible…IF you give your body a chance and you know where to spend the effort. Plus, once you get this stuff, you really don’t have to spend that much effort on it again!
So, what’s going on? Why the heck does it seem like you start this tone up and slim down process before every single vacation?
[Because you’re not doing it right…want to get a head start now? Sign up for my FREE 7-Day Smoothie Challenge! You’ll get some super easy ways to start doing the RIGHT things.]
What’s REALLY Going On?
What’s the deal with your cravings and the way you cannot stop at just one delicious dessert at the buffet?
Well…it’s simple. It’s your hormones!
Yup, for the most part, cravings, excessive hunger, low energy, and all that fun stuff that we feel, it’s your hormones. Specifically, imbalanced hormones, like insulin, estrogen, cortisol and glycogen.
Let’s focus on cortisol.
Women lead stressful and busy lives. It’s just part of our daily routine these days. If you travel for work often, this adds even more stress!
Factor in poor diet and lack of adequate nutrition (plus lack of sleep), and you’ve got this perfect storm of cortisol and other stress hormone issues. No wonder that metabolic and endocrine system disorders are rampant!
As young girls, we were taught about hormones. But we weren’t really taught the right stuff. All I remember learning was that, as I approached puberty, my hormones would change. And this caused my body to change. I would get my period and hair in places I did not want it…essentially, I believed that hormones were something I had to be embarrassed and ashamed to talk about.
Well, not anymore!
Hormones are kind of important and there are way more of them than the sex hormones we learn about in health class!
Think of your hormones as the body’s chemical messengers; they are involved in every little aspect of your physical, mental and emotional health. You need them in very specific amounts in order for your body to maintain harmony.
One teeny, tiny little malfunction of your hormones and your body reacts big time!
A hormonal imbalance might increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammation, breast cancer, weight gain, brain fog, anxiety, and so much more.
“The healthy, hormonally balanced body continually manufactures all the hormones it needs to keep everything functioning.
It becomes unbalanced when subjected to inadequate supplies of nutrients, inordinate stress and toxic influences. Balance is the most central aspect in a woman’s health.”
~ Women in Balance Institute
All your hormones are interconnected via the endocrine system. They each impact one another in various ways. So, if you’re making a lot of cortisol under stress, this can impact how much of other hormones your body can make. And it can affect other organs or tissues and make them less happy.
Could You Have a Hormone Imbalance?
Not that long ago, I struggled with cravings for sandwiches that were out of control. Yes, sandwiches. Every single afternoon, I wanted a sandwich. Sometimes a muffin but usually a sandwich.
Now, after years of studying holistic nutrition and experimenting on myself, I know that my body was craving bread and, essentially, quick energy in the form of glucose (aka sugar).
But, at the time, I was confused and so annoyed with myself. No matter what I did, or how much pep talking I gave myself, I couldn’t control those cravings.
Which, of course, made it really hard to lose weight and reduce my belly fat.
Sometimes…okay, usually…it’s really, really hard to know that what’s going on inside you is actually a hormonal imbalance. OR, that a hormonal imbalance may actually be caused by inflammation! It’s confusing and not something we can easily pin down.
But…when your body produces too much or too little of one or more hormones, there are some signs and symptoms that could help you out.
- Irregular or absent periods (or very heavy flow)
- Infertility & miscarriage
- Sleep issues and insomnia
- Memory or brain fog
- Chronic fatigue or consistent low energy
- Mood swings, irritable, anxious or depressed
- Gaining weight or weight loss resistant
- Night sweats and hot flashes
- Always feeling hungry
- Cravings for chocolate, sugar, breads, carbs or other “sweets”
- Salt cravings
- Loss of control after eating something sweet or salty (i.e. you can’t stop)
- Acne, especially around the chin, neck and back
Nutrition to the Rescue!
When my cravings were at their worst, so was my acne. It made more sense to me to try to fix the acne than it did to tackle the cravings. However, in helping clear up my skin with the right foods, I was also able to drastically reduce (and in some cases eliminate) my cravings!
Only…what the heck had I done???
Through some major trial and error, I found out that my nutrition made a HUGE impact on my cravings, skin and weight!
It should go without saying but your body needs nutrients from food to survive. Think of nutrients from real, whole foods as the high octane, cleanest fuel you could ever give it. The stuff that totally makes you rev like a Ferrari engine!
The sex hormones need cholesterol to stay balanced. Foods like eggs, grass-fed butter and meat are essential to a healthy diet.
Chronic stress can steal the nutrients needed to make your sex hormones. So, if you’re stressed, you need nutrients from whole (gluten-free) grains, vegetables and healthy plant-based fats to manage this response.
Quick Wins for Hormonal Balance!
A few years ago, when someone mentioned hormonal balance to me, I immediately thought about prescription drugs. Creams, lotions, things I didn’t even want to think about…
Now, though, with my holistic nutrition education, I am so relieved because I can actually help maintain hormonal balance with some food and lifestyle tips. And you can do these too!
- Enjoy good-quality (hormone-free) protein with every meal and snack each day.
- Ditch sugar and refined carbs, sodas or pops, gluten, processed and hydrogenated oils, and trans fats to keep inflammation in check.
- Eat your healthy fats! Every day – whole eggs, avocados,raw nuts and seeds, coconut milk (canned) and coconut oil, salmon, extra virgin olive oil.
- Get your fiber from fruits, vegetables and raw nuts and seeds, with a minimal to moderate amount from gluten-free whole grains.
- Eat probiotic foods such as fermented yogurt, kefir & sauerkraut as well as prebiotic foods like bananas, artichokes & chicory root almost every day.
- Guzzle your water! Aim for at least 2 liters per day, more if you’re active or drink a lot of caffeine or alcohol.
- Supplement with Vitamin D3, especially in the darker winter months, up to 4000 IU.
- If you’re 40+, add 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to your daily diet to detoxify excess estrogen.
- Spend 20-30 minutes each night stretching, meditating or listening to quiet music for relaxation.
Of course, every woman is different. Hormonal balance isn’t an easy feat with good quality whole foods alone. Sometimes you may need to ramp up your hormonal health with the right supplements and exercise.
What works for some may not work for others so it’s always fun to experiment. And if you’re feeling stuck with this stuff, know I am here to help you gain some clarity and understanding. For now, start with the basics I’ve listed above and, when you’re ready, give me a nudge for some extra support!