The Anatomy of a BAD Hormone Balancing Diet
When I first started out in the wellness industry, I was obsessed with the green smoothie. I had them for breakfast everyday and sometimes a second one later. For lunches and dinners, I lived on roast (skinless, boneless) chicken breast with iceberg lettuce salad and store bough dressing. My snacks consisted of nuts with dried fruit, or fresh fruit with fat-free cheese or yogurt. I was ALWAYS hungry.
And then I found out I had PCOS. My periods were irregular, my weight skyrocketed and my energy plummeted. So why wasn’t my healthy diet already preventing this from happening? Because it was a BAD hormone balancing diet. Although, if I’m being totally honest I now believe this to be a not-so-good diet for almost anything.
Are you falling into this bad-diet trap like I did?
Once touted as a major health food, and in pretty much all the boxed and bagged processed foods you eat- soy is a HUGE no-no for women (and men!) wanting to balance their hormones, weight and mood. Soy is a phytoestrogen- a big term that basically means it mimics estrogen in our bodies. As many women of fertile age are estrogen dominant, increasing our estrogen constantly is not a good idea.
Studies have shown that soy consumption is linked to sterility, and antagonistic to attempts at balancing hormones. Soy is also linked to poor thyroid function (this means weight gain and fatigue!), and creating deficiency in hormone balancing nutrients like Vitamins E, B12, K and D, plus Calcium, Magnesium and Iron.
Where soy is hiding:
- Soy, Shoyu and Tamari sauces
- Soy or “Vegetable” oil
- Soy Protein, Concentrate and Milk
- Textured Vegetable Protein (used as ground beef substitute in vegetarian “meats”)
- Natural and Artificial Flavouring
- And much more
I used to be the QUEEN of low fat dairy. Or no fat, to be specific. I drank skim milk (do you know this milk is actually BLUE from processing and they make it white?), ate fat-free, artificially-sweetened yogurts and low-fat cheese. The idea behind consuming low-fat dairy products is because full-fat dairy is 50%-60% saturated fat, and we’re told this is a “bad” fat. Erase that from your knowledge.
Full-fat dairy not only provides saturated fat (don’t be afraid of this) but also something called CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat extremely helpful in balancing hormones to the point of resetting metabolism and aiding weight loss. Using full-fat dairy will also lower your cholesterol and prevent cancer, prevent diabetes and heart disease, and the cholesterol in full-fat dairy helps your body manufacture hormones that leads to fewer PMS symptoms.
While dairy is best consumed in it’s raw form, a lot of Canada and the USA have made this illegal. If this is the case for you, use cultured dairy like yogurt, kefir or raw milk cheese (legal!) instead of a glass of milk. The pasteurization process has it’s own issues.
DISCLAIMER: if you are in any way allergic or sensitive to dairy, please do not use it.
I cannot explain to you my disdain for those freaking 100-Calorie packs of nothing good. Sure, they’re low-cal, but who cares? They have zero nutritional value, and don’t provide you with anything else but a ripping blood sugar spike. Keeping your blood sugar stable all day is essential for balancing hormones. Imbalanced blood sugar makes our moods crazy, our weight skyrocket, and our bodies stressed and unable to properly produce reproductive and stress hormone, among other things.
Let’s talk about the calories here, for a second. Many people have lost weight by counting calories. While they do this, they are hungry, exhausted and usually end up gaining the weight back (and then some!) when they stop. This is the reason many large weight loss companies (I’m looking at you Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig!) are successful at first for people, but they consistently fall off the wagon and need to do it over again. I’ve been in this cycle a few times myself- feeling worse and worse each time. Long story short, a calorie isn’t a calorie isn’t a calorie.
It is much more important to consume fresh, whole and nutrient-dense foods than to count calories. When you eat this way, you naturally don’t over eat. This is one of my favourite things to do with clients- they’re always skeptical but once they see weight coming off easily and staying off in the long term, they too become believers.
Black Tea and Coffee
In moderation. Delicious, fragrant coffee and black tea. Something I definitely do indulge in myself- from time to time. If you are drinking these beverages every day (maybe multiple times a day) it might be time to rethink your beverage choices.
The caffeine in black tea and coffee can have detrimental effects on your hormones. Caffeine consumption increases your body’s production of stress hormones, even if you aren’t stressed out. Long term, this depletes your body’s ability to manufacture hormones, as stress hormones and glands are involved in this process. It increases your PMS and Menopause symptoms, and can lead to burnout or extreme fatigue as well.
If you absolutely MUST have your coffee to function in the morning, or to pep you up in the afternoon, it’s time to make some changes. Your body is already on its way to burnout.
Too Much Fruit
I LOVE fruit. All kinds- berries, melons, stone fruits, citrus- I love it all. Fruits are fantastic additions to your diet because they have tons of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to help you hormones, immune system, mood and weight, to name a few. Before my PCOS balancing diet, I ate fruit all day long. In my smoothies, in yogurt, dried, or fresh out-of-hand. I also felt bloated and prone to yeast infections.
I am absolutely not advocating your give up fruit. Please keep it in your diet. It’s important to limit the amount of fruit you are eating because of the sugar content. You can really rack it up eating fruit all day. This leaves you prone to infections, candida overgrowth, poor digestion, foggy brain, mood swings, irritability and fatigue. All because the fruit is spiking your blood sugar! And we know how important blood sugar is for our hormones, as I talked about in the 100-Calorie Packs section of this post.