If you are struggling with hormonal imbalance the best place to start is by creating a hormonal imbalance diet plan. One of the things that my clients are most surprised by when completing my Mindful Elimination Program, is that the foods they eat are actually creating a hormonal response in the body.
Most of us, do not really think about our hormones while we are eating, but our foods greatly affect how we eat. In this post, I will be reviewing how hormones have an impact on our eating behaviors.
What Are Hormones?
Here is one of my favorite definitions of hormones. I think it makes understanding hormones pretty simple.
“Hormones are chemical messengers that are usually transported in your bloodstream. They are secreted by cells in one part of the body and bind to receptors in another part of the body. Hormones have many roles, but one essential function is to keep things in balance.”It Starts With Food by Melissa Urban
Balance, balance, balance! This is the best word I can use to describe what it means to eat mindfully and correct hormonal imbalance.
How Food Affects Our Hormones
What we eat and how we digest food triggers hormonal responses in the body. Why?
Because hormones are what help us to process the food and turn it into the components that we need to function and stay alive.
I used to think of eating only as something that my organs do, but it was when I started to understand that hormones are the key players that I began to understand why I want to eat foods that promote a healthy hormonal response in my body.
This is also when I really began to understand how anti-inflammation eating reigns king in healthy hormones! If you are interested in anti-inflammation eating, try making one of my mindful eating recipes to get you started.
Hormones That Cause Imbalance
Two hormones you may hear the most about and also the ones that I concentrate on in my Mindful Elimination Program are insulin and cortisol.
According to the National Diabetes Association, “Insulin is a naturally occurring hormone secreted by the pancreas.” Insulin is secreted in response to the ingestion of energy. This is mainly from carbohydrates.
But, does this really affect you even if you don’t have diabetes? The short answer is yes.
Besides affecting your blood sugar levels, insulin directly influences your cell energy, growth, and repair. So, even if you don’t have diabetes, your goal is to have a balance of blood sugar levels in the body at all times for optimal health and function.
The foods you choose to eat can either spike blood sugar levels or help to maintain healthy levels in the body. This is why it is so important to choose foods that support a healthy insulin hormone response.
Many people know cortisol as the stress hormone, and it is! Cortisol’s purpose is to help you when you go into fight-or-flight mode.
We have come to have some negative opinions on cortisol because we know that an overabundance can create extra belly fat and unwanted side effects in the body. This is all true.
But, when cortisol is functioning properly and in balance it does several really great things for us.
According to this article talking about what Cortisol is:
“Cortisol stimulates the liver to convert fat into glucose, which gives you energy. Throughout the day, the hormone does several jobs. It helps regulate blood pressure, assists in the formation of new memories, and plays a role in digestion, managing how your body uses protein, fat, and carbs extracted from the foods you eat. Cortisol is even involved in curbing inflammation.”health.com
Yes, read that last line again! Cortisol is even involved in curbing inflammation – when in BALANCE!
But, when your body feels stressed out all the time, from your lifestyle or your nutrition, then things can get out of whack with your cortisol levels. This will affect every aspect of your life – physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Symptoms Of High Cortisol Levels
Here is a list of high cortisol level symptoms to be on the look out for.
- Obesity / weight gain
- High blood pressure
- Elevated triglycerides
- Insulin resistance
- Thyroid function
- Poor sleep
Actions That Cause High Levels Of Cortisol
The following list shows actions that can cause high levels of cortisol.
- Eating too little
- Eating highly processed foods
- Eating too much refined sugar
Foods that Cause Hormonal Imbalance
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, then I highly recommend that you begin to get your hormones in balance. The best and first step to doing this is through the foods that you choose to eat and not eat.
Here is the list of foods that cause hormonal imbalance. In my own life, I strive to stay away from all of these foods as much as possible.
And, I teach you how do this by cooking with alternative ingredients, changing your lifestyle, and creating a hormone balanced body in my Mindful Elimination Program.
Sugar wreaks havoc on the balance of our hormonal system. The scary thing is that most people don’t even realize they are consuming an excessive amount of sugar every day. It is found in coffee creamer, canned vegetables, and hidden in our drinks.
When we ingest large amounts of sugar, the hormone response is insulin. When we start producing high amounts of insulin, we can then become insulin resistant which can be very bad for our health.
The best thing to do is to try to limit the amount of added sugar you intake, and always read your labels for added amounts of sugar. The best rule of thumb is to limit any amount of added sugar that you can.
Dairy is a controversial subject as many have grown-up with having 2 to 3 servings of dairy a day. But the truth is, dairy is not the health food that we all have been marketed to love.
The first thing to remember is that dairy is the perfect food for a baby COW, not for a human child or adult!
“The average glass of milk contains sixty different hormones. Many are anabolic hormones, which cause cells to grow. That’s great for a newborn calf that needs to bulk up fast. But in an adult human, it’s bad news.”Food, What The Heck Should I Eat? by Dr. Mark Hyman
He also states that dairy cows are now kept in almost constant states of milk production. Including being milked when they are pregnant, which means they are brimming with many different pregnancy hormones.
We then ingest this into our bodies. I believe that if I am trying to stay hormonally balanced, then I should probably not add up to sixty different hormones into my body!
I have learned to substitute my dairy products with plant-based products that are easy to use and keep me healthy and in balance. Check out some of the recipes below. All my recipes are dairy-free.
If you are experiencing sensitivity to estrogen, then avoiding soy is something you should consider.
“Since soy is a phytoestrogen, it mimics the estrogen in the body and can cause issues with naturally occurring estrogen in the body.”healthsoul.com
If you have excess estrogen then you may experience mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, and trouble sleeping. Soy is a government-subsidized crop, and most versions that you find are GMO. They are heavily sprayed with pesticides and produced in bulk.
Check your labels, you will most certainly often find that “vegetable oil” is soybean oil and it is in everything. Start substituting avocado oil in your home cooking.
I can tell you from my personal experience, that removing soy from my diet has been, by far, the greatest decision I have ever made for my health. If removing soy from your life seems like a daunting task, then I will tell you it sure is!
But I give you a step-by-step guide in my Mindful Elimination Program that will help you learn how to look at food and your body in a new way.
4. Refined Carbohydrates
When we ingest refined carbohydrates they turn into sugar in the body. This then activates insulin in the body.
An American diet typically includes refined carbohydrates like bread in every meal. This creates a seesaw effect on our insulin levels all day long.
The thing to remember about insulin, is that insulin is a hormone that affects other hormones in the body. If you want to keep your hormones in balance, then remove the refined carbohydrates from your everyday diet.
I suggest enjoying it on occasion. I now enjoy it out when I am eating in a restaurant, but skip it when I am eating at home on my everyday diet. It is a good way to keep myself in check, while still not living a restrictive diet-mentality life.
Simply put alcohol can disrupt the natural production of hormones including those that affect bone density, testosterone, and estrogen. On top of that, alcohol also affects insulin levels because alcohol is turned into sugar in the body.
Consistently having your insulin levels spiked can be detrimental to hormone balance. The best rule of thumb is to skip happy hour in your everyday life, and only enjoy alcohol on occasion if you must.
Caffeine can wake us up, make us alert, and give us energy. It can also cause our heartbeat to rise, cause us to sweat, and cause us to have heart palpitations.
Caffeine turns on our adrenaline and can spike the hormone cortisol, the stress hormone. So, having a lot of caffeine can stress us out, creating big imbalances in our hormone levels.
Studies have also shown that caffeine can raise estrogen levels. So, if you are experiencing estrogen dominance then cutting back your caffeine intake can be crucial to getting your hormones in balance.
I can overconsume caffeine. I love coffee, hot and iced, it makes me happy. But at one point I found myself overconsuming it.
I found that I was having headaches and irritability. I would have terrible afternoon crashes, and it was completely disrupting my sleep. Plus, it caused some weight gain in my mid-section.
I decided that I would reign myself in to 1 to 2 cups of coffee each morning and no other caffeine. It was hard the first few days, but then I almost immediately started to feel better and it has been easy to stick to.
Our foods are full of preservatives and it is causing major issues for our health. One of the ways that preservatives can cause hormonal imbalance is that they disrupt the job of the hormones that signal that we are full.
Those signaling cells get lost and then we tend to overeat and gain weight. The best thing to do is read your labels and choose foods with the least amount of preservatives as possible.
Stick to fresh fruits, vegetables, and quality meats and seafoods. Make your own sauces and stop eating from the pantry as much.
Once I removed the preservatives out of my diet, I felt I had a renewed source of energy and vitality. I found myself balanced!
To learn about the top five preservatives to stay away from check out my Mindful Elimination Program and start living a healthier lifestyle.
Hormone Diet Food List
These are the best hormone balancing superfoods to help you stick with a hormonal imbalance diet plan and feeling healthy.
- Fresh vegetables
- Fresh fruits
- Sustainably raised meat
- Quality / sustainably caught seafood
Practicing Yoga For Hormone Balance
Yoga is all about balance, and that does not just mean being able to stand on one foot! Yoga means to bind together and that means finding awareness in all aspects of our bodies, including how we eat.
It has amazingly positive effects on the endocrine system. It turns on our rest and digest or parasympathetic system. This will help balance out high levels of cortisol.
Yoga has many great poses that have positive effects on the thyroid, heart, lungs, aids in digestion, promotes a healthy immune system, and was created for restoration and rejuvenation.
Yoga inspires us to become more aware of our bodies which helps us to be able to make more positive choices in the way we eat. It also aids in eating mindfully so we can learn how to pay attention to overeating and emotional eating.
Yoga is also for everyone! Even if you consider yourself “inflexible” or “unable to be still”, the practice starts wherever you are.
If you interested in trying out yoga for helping with hormonal imbalance, I offer a five-day, 30 minute a day program called Dive into the Practice of Yoga.
It is a simple way to begin a yoga practice in the comfort of your own home and with simple poses. I walk you step-by-step through the five days, and it can jumpstart the process of the path toward a balanced life.
Start cooking for hormonal imbalance today with a hormonal balancing diet plan
To wrap up this post on a hormonal imbalance diet plan, be sure to remember the following items.
- Practice yoga
- Eat quality protein
- Get your omega 3’s from fish
- Use quality oils that have good fat
- Avoid added sugar
- Learn stress management skills
- Get enough sleep
Best of luck and be sure to check out our Mindful Eating Elimination program if you need more help.