Hormones help our bodies to run as they should. They regulate things like appetite, hunger, mood, and sleep, so they’re pretty important when it comes to ensuring your health.
But here’s the catch, your hormones can actually fall out of balance causing unwanted symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, mood swings, and acne. While medicine can help to regulate hormones, lifestyle changes should be the first step you take towards getting your hormones back in balance. This includes what you eat.
I have personally struggled with hormone balance and that’s what led me down the path of becoming a certified heath coach from Cornell University. I have assembled this post to help others discover the top hormonal imbalance foods to avoid. Changing my diet was a huge help in balancing my hormones, and it can help you too.
As well as other lifestyle decisions, food can have a bigger impact on your hormones than you might think. Food affects both the production and the secretion of hormones by causing inflammation, directly impacting your gut, changing the make-up of your gut, or changing the levels of circulating gut hormones.
Some foods cause hormones to become imbalanced, while others rebalance them. It’s about eating more of the right stuff and less of the wrong stuff. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the hormonal imbalance foods you should avoid and not eat.
If you’re experiencing hormonal imbalance symptoms and want to reduce them look to eat less of these foods or better yet, cut them out completely.
Now when I talk about sugar, I’m certainly not saying you can never reach for a tub of strawberries again. But refined sugar, the type that comes in donuts and candy, is bad for your hormones.
Avoid chocolate, candy, and sweet treats that contain large amounts of refined sugar. You also have to look for foods it might is hidden in too. Ketchup for example, contains more sugar than you’d think.
While soy is often promoted as a health food, especially to vegans and vegetarians, it can actually have some negative effects on your health. Soy contains a type of estrogen that can throw off the balance of your own supply of estrogen.
In women, this leads to painful breasts, mood swings, and a change in menstruation. Men may also experience growth in their breast tissue as well as mood swings and fatigue.
To avoid producing excess estrogen, keep soy to a minimum in your diet. This includes foods like tofu and some processed vegan meat alternatives too. If you’re a soy milk fan, swap it out for almond or oat.
Caffeine isn’t great for keeping your hormones balanced. To be honest, it’s not great for health in general! For many people, caffeine causes gut issues and it can cause anxiety when consumed on an empty stomach. If you still want your daily mug of coffee or tea, reach for a decaffeinated version.
Dairy is a great food for growing strong and getting enough protein… for baby cows! Dairy can mess with human hormones. Where possible, swap it out for dairy-free alternatives such as oat milk, cashew cheese, or ghee.
Processed foods are bad for hormonal imbalance and just bad for your health in general. Processed foods tend to be stuffed with salt, preservatives, and sugar, which can be bad for your hormones. Try and eat foods in the simplest form possible to improve your health.
Alcohol is bad for your health on many levels. Not only is it full of calories, but it can mess with your sleep and impair your decision-making abilities. Plus, you likely won’t eat as healthily as usual when drinking.
Preservatives help food to last longer on the shelves and sometimes we just need to grab the most convenient foods when out and about. But the more effort you put into avoiding preservatives, the better for your long-term health. Processed foods can cause stress and inflammation in your adrenal glands, which messes with your hormones.
Sugar is bad, so maybe artificial sweeteners are the better option, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners come with issues of their own, with daily use of these sweeteners being directly correlated with a higher risk of heart issues, strokes, and overall death.
Artificial sweeteners are found in everything, from low-sugar yogurt to protein bars. Look out for them in the ingredients the next time you pick something off the shelf.
Are you worried that cutting these foods out will be too challenging? Here are some tips to make it simpler.
- Cook from scratch. Many of the foods on this list, such as artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and processed foods come as a result of buying to-go food and ready meals. By cooking from scratch as often as possible, you can successfully avoid these foods. If you don’t have time to cook every night, make a big batch of your favorite healthy dish at the start of the week and simply reheat it as needed.
- Enjoy in moderation. While these foods are definitely worth avoiding if your hormones are out of balance, it doesn’t mean you can never eat them again. Enjoy food such as refined sugar, dairy, and caffeine in moderation and prioritize healthy foods for the majority of your time.
- Keep a food diary. Everybody is different and the foods that set off your hormonal issues might not be the same as those that others struggle with. To find out which foods tend to affect you negatively, keep a food diary. When you have a bad reaction to a food, keep a note of the food, how much you add, and how you reacted to it in the diary.
- Find tasty replacements. Just because you’re going without one food, it doesn’t mean you can’t have anything similar. Swap out your caffeinated coffee for a decaffeinated version and reach for a fruit salad after dinner, instead of chocolate, to get your sweet fix.
- Join the Mindful Elimination Program. This is my signature 40-day program where you do an elimination diet while also learning about mindful eating. When you are done you will have discovered what food sensitives you have, plus learn how to eat in a healthy way.
The good news is that the foods you remove from your diet can be replaced by those which are actually beneficial for hormonal imbalance. Here’s a list of the foods you should eat more of.
- Vegetables. All veggies, but leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables in particular, are great for balancing hormones.
- Legumes. Legumes like chickpeas and beans are a good choice for hormonal imbalance, as well as generally improving your mental and physical health. Next time you’re making a chili con carne, skip the carne and opt for beans instead.
- Fruit. Fruits are nutritional powerhouses that come packed with antioxidants and other magical things that bring inflammation down. Try adding a cup of fruit for hormonal imbalance like blueberries or strawberries to your day.
- Wholegrains. Unlike refined white grains, whole grains such as brown rice, brown bread, and quinoa give you energy that lasts the day without spiking your glucose.
Are you ready to change your diet and remove the hormonal imbalance foods to avoid from the list above?
The good news is that bringing your hormones back into balance doesn’t have to be overly difficult. Avoid the foods on the no-go list from above as much as possible.
Additionally, prioritize foods that can help to keep your hormones in check. You might find that many unwanted symptoms disappear. And if you need a little more support, check in with a medical professional.
Finally before you go, you might want to grab my FREE 3-day hormonal imbalance diet plan. Just fill in the form below to get it.