...and what to do about it
It’s totally impossible to overplay how important hormone balance is to your health. Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers and they have the starring role in your life, from puberty through pregnancy and birth as well as menopause and beyond. Did you know they control how you feel – your energy levels, your emotions, your mood as well as your sex drive – whether you’re hungry and even where you’re going to store extra weight? Any doubters should – carefully – try to pick an argument with a pregnant woman or a teenage girl. Then stand back and hold onto your trousers!
Which of these symptoms speak to you?
- Persistent weight gain
- Fat around the middle
- Flagging sex drive
- Mood swings
- Brain fog
- Easily brought to tears
- Acne and pimples (especially round the chin)
- Sleep disturbances
- Tired but wired at bedtime
- Constant hunger
- Cold feet
- Disappearing outer third of eyebrow
- Digestive problems
- Headaches and migraines
- Hot flushes and night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Breast changes
- Excess sweating
- Frequent colds or infections
Wow! What a list. That’s hormones for you. For many women, life can feel like a bit of a hormonal rollercoaster. But it’s time to step off that ride now, ladies, because there’s a very natural way to help manage some of your symptoms by learning how to balance your hormones naturally. Good nutrition can be a very powerful influence. It’s all about making small changes to your diet and learning to fall in love again with real food.
Hormone imbalance plays a role in all of the conditions below, and you might already with working with your GP to help reduce some of the clinical symptoms.
What your GP won’t tell you (and you can’t blame them, they’ve simply not had the training) is that all symptoms of hormone imbalance can be improved by eating well, taking some targeted supplements (if necessary) and making some lifestyle changes. Thank God for that!
Here are some of the things I’m working with in clinic on a daily basis:
Painful periods, pain on ovulation, heavy periods, spotting between periods, pain during or after sex, infertility, pelvic pain, lower back pain, fatigue, and diarrhoea, constipation, bloating or nausea during your periods.
Putting on weight (especially round the middle), can’t loose weight, losing your hair, thinning hair, getting facial hair, adult acne, can’t get pregnant, feeling low.
Do you have really heavy periods or periods that last a long time, clots in your menstrual blood that look like liver, or a swollen stomach? Are you going to the loo more frequently? Got backache?
Maybe you have mood swings, feel anxious and irritable, or else experience cravings, have headaches or feel washed out? Do you get tender breasts, water retention or bloating? Or maybe you feel forgetful, clumsy or depressed? Manu people often get headaches in the run up to their period, too.
Are you tired all the time? Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, get a slump in the early afternoon, improving after 6pm, then a second wind late at night? Do you have high (or low) blood pressure, poor circulation, achy joints? Achy joints? Do you get cravings for salty or sweet foods, get cold easily, dizzy if you stand up quickly, or frequent colds? Lost your sex drive? Frequently brought to tears? Feeling tired but wired? Disrupted sleep? Struggling to get pregnant? Forgetful or fuzzy headed? Digestive issues?
Tired all the time, sensitive to the cold (especially feet), putting on weight for no good reason, constipated, getting muscle aches or cramps, mood swings or just feeling low, struggling to get pregnant, have problem periods, dry skin and hair, low sex drive, hair falling out, losing the outer third of your eyebrow? Dry skin and hair or brittle nails?
Recognise andy of these? Palpitations, high Blood pressure, anxiety, panic attacks, excessive sweating, weight loss, bulging eyes, or goiter (swelling in neck)?
PERIMENOPAUSE & MENOPAUSE
This is a long list, so hold onto your trousers. Take the whole of the stress hormones, add in thyroid. Sprinkle on night sweats, brain fog, not being able to concentrate, depression, memory lapses, disturbed sleep, nervous/ panic attacks, sugar/ carb cravings, joint pain.
BLOOD SUGAR/ INSULIN IMBALANCE
Sugar/ carb cravings, really tired after lunch (needing caffeine or sugar to keep you going), poor concentration, headaches or dizziness if you’ve not eaten for a few hours, PMS, frequently needing a wee or excessive thirst, a high waist to hip ratio (your waist measurement divided by your hip measurement. You’ll want that number to be less than 0.8), disturbed sleep (often waking up about 3am or 4am).
NOW, WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT?
Firstly, you’ll want to get yourself checked out and, of course, your hormones check out with your GP or a qualified practitioner (like a registered nutritional therapist). Start with your GP for first level (free) testing. They will also be mindful of your health history and family history and can rule out anything else untoward.
It’s not always a happy discussion. Often the testing available (especially for thyroid) is pretty basic and you can end up being sent away because the NHS version of OK is not quite the same as you actually being OK. For stress, I’m afraid you will leave empty-handed as the testing just isn’t available. Private testing is available and is always an option (at a cost) and is worth it because sometimes you just need to get clarity on the situation, particularly if you’ve been struggling for a while.
NUTRITION ACTION PLAN
Following a low GL diet will help balance out your symptoms over time. It is a more healthful diet that will also help boost your energy and help you lose weight, if that’s something that’s troubling you. You can see what I’m talking about in the files section – there’s a video and a little presentation.
Next you’ll want to layer in specifics. There are so many things you can do to improve your situation depending on your specific concerns. I’m going to give you a couple of suggestions, but, if you’re affected by any of these things and it bothers you enough to TAKE ACTION to improve your health and your quality of life AND you want to invest in yourself, book in a discovery call with me to talk about how a programme might help and what level of support you might need. You can do that by clicking right here.
There’s no obligation at all. If it’s not for you, please don’t think I take ‘no’ personally. Everyone has their budget and not everyone is genuinely ready to put themselves first. Your call. That’s the sales bit out of the way. Phew.
Now, for any lady hormone business (PMS, endo, PCOS, fibroids, menopause), you might like to weave phytoestrogens into your diet. These are special, magic foods containing helpful plant chemicals with a weak oestrogenic effect. They are what we in the trade called ‘adaptogens’ in that they adapt to what your body needs. Got too much oestrogen? These will help. Need extra oestrogen? Got that covered, too. You can download a fact sheet on phytoestrogens by clicking this link It’s a stick to the fridge job. Simply check out where you might be able to sneak some into your diet on a daily basis.
If you resonate with the stress symptoms, my big message is invest in your self care like your life depended on it. Good self care allows to you empty your stress bucket and can bring a little fun into your life, too. What’s not to like about that?
So often when I’m working with women, they are putting themselves and their own health and happiness on the line because they are so busy looking after everyone else. Frequently with mums, they feel they are being selfish and shouldn’t be taking time out for themselves. Since when did not looking after yourself become OK? If you’re completely out of touch with the person you used to be and what makes you happy, I urge you to visit my blog on the subject and make this a priority (click here to be whisked off to the right page).
If you’re struggling for ideas, think about what used to make you happy in the olden days. One client recently enlisted the help of her son in this exercise, who reminded her about the things she liked doing. Use whatever resource you have going.
There’s a little handy tool I’m also going to share with you called the wheel of life. Click here to get it. You might have come across something like this before. Simply, you give all the areas in your life a score. It’s an amazing way to instantly spot where you need to focus. Some people get a bit despondent and start fretting about things if they score low – especially on fun and family. This is an information-gathering exercise; a way to figure out what it is you really need so you can start making some changes.
The rest is up to you…