Written by IALH Editor
Image by @lolathompson
Hormones are actually controlled by the brain, so you might be wondering how your food has anything to do with keeping them balanced. But those same chemicals in your brain also control important signals in your body about weight and appetite – so it’s more connected than you first thought!
Fluctuations in your hormones can have a huge impact on your life, mentally, emotionally and physically. Things like PMS, PCOS or menopause can cause significant hormone imbalances but so can everyday things like stress, not getting enough sleep, smoking and yep, you guessed it – diet.
There are of course plenty of medical interventions and steps with a doctor or healthcare professional to get things in check again, but diet is a natural contribution to the hormones your body is producing. Let’s get into it…
1) Fibre up hun
Most of us don’t eat enough fibre, but it’s so beneficial – particularly for women. If you have heavy, painful periods it can help remove hormones from the body causing surges of oestrogen. Make beans, pulses, sweet potatoes and wholegrains your best friend!
2) All the colourful fruit & veg
Get your 5 a day! The best fruit and veg tend to be the most colourful, so go for things like blueberries that are high in antioxidants.
3) Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals is no good here hun. You actually want to try to eat smaller meals, more frequently and start the day with the biggest meal and reduce in size after that. This is because your metabolic rate naturally peaks around midday and starts to slow for the rest of the day. Smaller meals more frequently in the afternoon (instead of one massive meal at night) will help to normalise insulin secretion. It also helps to stop what you’re eating being stored as fat, as this is more likely to happen the later you eat your meals.
4) Cut back on refined & high glycemic carbs
This sounds fancy, but it’s not! It’s essentially avoiding foods that are quickly broken down in your body, like sugar, white bread, white pasta, and rice. No ones saying don’t eat any of these things ever, but in moderation can help balance your body.
Try incorporating black beans, chickpeas, peanut butter, yoghurt and wild rice as substitutes for some of these things.
And yes, cutting back on alcohol is important here too, alcohol is super high in sugar and incredibly absorbable – the effects can be felt in minutes and have a lasting effect on your brain and subsequently hormone imbalances.