Back into gear for the New Year
New year’s resolutions can be fun to make; this year make them stick by taking a holistic view. Food is information to the body and making sure it’s fuelled with the right foods is essential to hormonal balance.
Our hormones control nearly every physiological process in the body including metabolism, the reproductive system, and even immune function. In addition to playing a major role in controlling our weight, mood, and appetite, these chemical messengers also have a profound effect on our emotional & physical health.
Factors such as lifestyle, stress, poor sleep & an unhealthy diet high in sugar can cause hormones to become imbalanced. How do we know if we’re out of balance? Ask yourself a few of these questions… Do I have sugar cravings & mood swings, am I overweight or carry excess belly fat? If yes, chances are it may be a result of hormonal imbalance.
Simple lifestyle changes and a holistic nutrition plan can help you ditch the diet that’s leaving you exhausted, constantly hangry and help get your hormones out of overdrive!
The Sugar Link!
We’ve all heard about and know of the negative effects sugar can have on the waistline, but a diet high in sugar can also lead to significant hormonal imbalance. You don’t eat sugar you say? This includes all refined carbs, like your morning muffin or bagel, lunchtime pasta and dinnertime wine (all break down as sugar!). Sugar is hiding everywhere, lurking even in “healthy” protein bars, and as a society we are addicted!
5 Tips on getting those hormones back in check
1. Kick sugar to the curb!
Want to avoid obesity, belly fat and diabetes? Break up with sugar. This especially includes liquid sugars, even those natural ones in your beloved green juice (check the labels!). To the body, sugar is sugar. Highly refined carbs (bread, pasta, muffins) promote insulin resistance which can lead to hormonal imbalance quickly.
2. Give your diet some much deserved attention
Eating a well-balanced diet including high quality protein, healthy fats and fiber-rich carbohydrates will keep you satisfied (especially at breakfast), keep your hormones in balance and free you from constant cravings. Eating anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, fatty fish and nuts improve sensitivity to leptin and help get appetite suppressors back in check.
3. Manage your stress
High stress levels wreak havoc on your hormones. Over time, chronic stress causes cortisol levels to remain elevated which leads to that stubborn belly fat and hormonal imbalance. Finding space to include massage, meditation, yoga and some quiet YOU time can all help normalize cortisol levels.
4. Make good sleep a priority
Getting good quality sleep may be among one of the MOST important factors for hormonal balance. Even with a perfect diet and exercise routine, a lack of restorative sleep can lead to imbalance of insulin, cortisol, and important growth hormones necessary for repair.
5. Move your body (everyday!)
A major benefit to hormonal health is regular physical activity. According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, MD, author of The Hormone Cure, muscle serves as another endocrine organ that play a key role in metabolism by talking to other organs and releasing hormones”.
High intensity sweat sessions and heavy resistance training have been shown to do this best over endurance training.
Keeping our hormones happy requires a combination of eating to stabilize our blood sugar, getting regular exercise and good quality sleep. Practicing self-care should include all these as well as being kind to yourself. See where you can make small changes at first, which can lead to longer lasting (and more permanent) changes for the future. Adriana Rotella is a certified Holistic Nutritionist, Pilates expert and Face Yoga practitioner practicing in the GTA. Find her on Instagram @adriana.rotella or at www.adrianarotella.ca