What’s a girl to do when she is hormonal AF and doesn’t even want to put regular clothes on, especially for blog photos? Write a blog post about it! I can’t be the only one who deals with crazy PMS symptoms, so I asked Courtney for her tips since she specializes in hormone balance for women through nutrition and exercise. She literally has been the ideal trainer for me because she understands my body’s every need, even being thousands of miles apart! So in my quest to feel good so I can run my business and be on my A-Game, Courtney and I bring you tips for dealing with life when you are hormonal and bloated AF. Courtney is going to break down the foods you should eat and the ones you should avoid. The goal is to help a girl get balanced and feel semi-normal during your crazy TOM.
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel in your bloodstream through your tissues and organs. They work slowly but affect things like your metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, emotions and even your creative flow.
Hormones are made in your endocrine glands which include the pituitary, pineal, thymus, thyroid, adrenal glands, ovaries and your pancreas. Having an unbalanced hormonal system can cause issues with weight loss, fertility, depression and even acne. I became interested in hormonal balancing through nutrition when I went through my journey of infertility and thyroid issues. I have in the last year been able to balance my hormones by eating enough carbohydrates to fuel my intense workouts and enough healthy fats to give my hormones what they need to function properly.
If your hormones are balanced yet you get those crazy up and down cycles which most of us do, you should focus on cleaning up your eating habits, eating foods that contain vitamins like magnesium to keep you calm and avoiding foods that make you inflammed like sugars and caffeine.
What You Should Eat:
- Nuts and Seeds: These two foods contain two powerhouse nutrients which your body needs to get those feel good vibes going on. Magnesium and healthy fats are in both nuts and seeds especially pumpkin seeds and cashews. If your body lacks magnesium you could experience constant anxiety, lack of sleep and random bouts of panic. If this sounds like you, increase your seed and nut intake by adding a handful in throughout your day and be sure to mix it up. I really like pumpkin seeds with unsweetened coconut flakes and cashews! Healthy fats are essential for producing your hormones so making sure you mix that up will ensure you have a good flow of balance in your life.
- Dark Chocolate (70% or higher): Skip the diluted sugar spiked chocolate bar and go for a high quality dark chocolate which will boost your happy hormones, give you more magnesium and reduce PMS pain. Dark chocolate contains magnesium which acts a minor muscle relaxant, potassium which helps your body deal with cramps and anandamide which gives your body happy endorphins. A small piece with a glass of red wine sounds like the perfect treat to me!
- Red Wine: 1 glass..not a bottle, can greatly improve the stress, cramps and bad mood from being hormonal. I always used to joke with my friends and call it nature’s xanax, it really can shift your mood! According to Chinese Medicine, red wine increases blood circulation and if you are having hormonal problems your bodies blood flow is stagnant. One glass (4 oz.) will relax you and help that flow which will greatly improve not only your mood but your bodies abilities to move those hormones. Remember, hormones move through the bloodstream so increasing that blood flow is important. If you don’t drink, try dry brushing instead to stimulate blood flow.
- Dark Leafy Greens: I know, I know, I push the greens but they have so many life changing, yes I said it, life changing benefits that you need to eat them several times a day. When you stress out or have a rage of hormonal battles in the mode department your body depletes its mineral stores and the only way to get those back is to eat nutrient rich foods like dark leafy greens. If you can’t stand the way they taste try adding them into a smoothie or adding them into an egg omelette to disguise the taste.
What You Should Avoid:
- Sugar: Sugar not only inflames the body, it can severely mess with your hormonal flow. Sugar is a hormone disrupter, especially processed white sugar. Excess sugar consumption causes spikes in your insulin which raises your cortisol levels causing your body to feel like it is stressed out. If hormones are already causing you stress, reduce or limit your sugar intake to get rid of that sugar high feeling, strengthen your immune system and reduce your anxiety and stress levels.
- Alcohol: I just mentioned the amazing benefits of a glass of red wine, but red wine is in its own category when it comes to boozing. Alcohol and excess consumption of alcohol causes your body to stress out and messes with your hormonal balance. Your body is constantly trying to feel balanced and by adding acidic foods like sugar and alcohol to the equation causes an imbalance in your system! Limit yourself to 3-4 drinks a week.
- Caffeine: Ugh, I know. This one is the hardest for me because I absolutely LOVE having a cold brew (or five) during the day especially on a long computer cranking day. Caffeine inflames our bodies, causes our muscles to experience soreness and can even enhance any bad mood you might be having. On top of all that, anxiety can happen if you over-consume caffeine. Stick to 1 cup about 8 oz of coffee a day to get that boost you need in the morning without overdoing it and causing manic anxiety and muscle pains.
- Hot Plastics: When plastic gets hot a compound called BPA mimics estrogen and comes out to play which in turn disrupts your actual hormones and confuses your body. The best thing you can do is cook your food in a pan instead of the microwave and use glass jars instead of plastic bottles for warm drinks.
What Else You Can Do:
- Get Your Sleep: 8 hours of deep sleep increases your rate of growth hormone production, gives your body a change to balance itself. It is known that lack of sleep can alter your glucose tolerance which is how fast your body can recognize glucose and use it to fuel activity. If your body slows this process down in anyway your body will store this glucose as fat causing you to gain weight with a risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Pretty scary stuff! If you have trouble falling asleep try to determine why. Some questions to ask yourself: Are you drinking caffeine at 4 PM? Maybe you need to eat a snack instead. Are you panicking about your to do list for tomorrow? Maybe you need to write it all down on paper before getting ready for bed. Think about it, figure it out and make a change!
- Exercise Properly: Do not over exercise yourself to the point where you really disrupt your hormonal flow like I did. If you have problems with your thyroid and adrenals, listen to your body, do light exercise and focus more on yoga, tennis, swimming and hiking to get started. Once you become a bit more a balanced, stick to routines that are no longer than 30-45 minutes. If you are a healthy individual and just find yourself hormonal around your cycle and crampy during your flow, lower your weight load and focus more on HIIT style training. I also avoid pulsating the abs and lower back because for me, those muscles tend to be sore, so I focus more on quick effective movements and less on isolated movements, like ones you can find here.
Thank you SO much Courtney for this explanation and tips! I have also started taking an organic evening primrose oil supplement 3x a day to help alleviate the severe inflammation that I get from PMS. This was recommended to me by my holistic doctor. I’m not a doctor, so check these things out for yourself before taking my advice. What are some tips or tricks that you use during your TOM to deal?
xo Annie & Courtney