Hormones and nutrition: feeding the beast for better health
Feeling a little beastly? Quick check: when did you last eat and what was it? Yeah, us too. Oops.
Some of the biggest impacts on our health come from what we put in our mouths. But there’s so much information out there, some of it directly contradictory, so what’s a gal to do?
Team Gennev is pretty much always hungry, and we sometimes struggle to figure out the best solutions to satisfy us— physically and emotionally. We figured if we have questions, no doubt many of our Gennev-ers do too, so we contacted health and nutrition coach Michelle Cartmel for help.
Your hormones and nutrition: feel fabulous by eating fabulous
Direct from Coach Michelle, here’s how to add good nutrition to your feeling-fabulous tool box:
What is a health/nutrition coach, and what do you do for clients?
Think of health/nutrition coach as you would any other type of fitness coach or trainer in sports, fitness, etc. My role is to educate, inspire and motivate my clients to make smart, consistently healthy choices which enable them to reach and continue to maintain their end goal. I create action plans based on a client’s goals (weight loss, sugar detox, etc.) and provide the tools and guidance throughout the journey that can help drive that person’s success. I like to think of myself as a cheerleader for good health.
I know hormones impact how I feel; how can nutrition help me manage those impacts?
When our hormones are “acting up,” we can feel enraged and out of control. Keeping your nutrition in check is paramount to keeping things from spiraling further out of control. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to maintain a well-balanced diet full of veggies, fruit, lean protein, legumes, beans and healthy carbs. Minimize or avoid processed foods, sugars and sodium wherever possible because these foods can severely impact brain and gut health and in turn, impact your mood. Think about what a sugar crash feels like…now imagine that experience combined with raging hormones.
Whole foods won’t do that to your mood, so the best thing you can do to manage hormone symptoms is to create stability through your nutrition. If you know you are prone to succumbing to snack cravings when your hormones affect you, I challenge you to be proactive and have healthy treat substitutes on hand that satiate your desire for unhealthy foods. Some of my go-to’s are a square of dark chocolate, a tablespoon of nut butter and half a frozen banana, or a piece of Dave’s Killer Bread toasted with smashed avocado.
What is the most common nutritional mistake you see clients make?
Without a doubt, it’s eating too much sugar. Sugars are hidden in so many of the foods we eat, even the ones that are marketed to us as “healthy,” from yogurt, to salad dressings, green smoothies, specialty coffees and especially bars. According to the American Heart Association, women should consume no more than six teaspoons or 25 grams of added sugars per day. Added sugars are added during the manufacturing process and are not naturally present in the food itself.
Become a food detective and sleuth out sugars by reading labels! It doesn’t take much time for those sneaky little sugar calories to accumulate. Look at your day as a whole and calculate how much sugar you eat on average, then try to determine how to reduce your intake.
What are your top 3 “quick fixes” I can do today to jump start my health?
First, plan your eating like you plan your workouts. Wake up, think about what your schedule looks like for the day and plan your meals accordingly. That way, you won’t be making decisions on the fly, which can often lead to poor “grab and go” choices and overeating.
Second, if your goal is to get to a healthy weight, exercise portion control. This is a tough one, I know! Start with small changes, reducing portion sizes during dinner for one week. Eat from a salad plate so that you stay within a safe zone. Eat slowly and deliberately, savoring each bite, and drink water before and during the meal to create satiety.
Third, stop grazing. When we are constantly nibbling while at work, or while cooking/prepping dinners, kids’ lunches, etc., we can consume a lot of extra food we’re not even entirely aware of eating! Set yourself up for success; if you know your triggers, place things like lemon water, tea or sparkling water at your disposal and make a conscious decision to choose wisely as you’re about to grab for something you shouldn’t.
What are five things I should always have in my kitchen?
- A refrigerator stocked with fruits and veggies (pre-cut if possible) placed at eye level.
- Healthy fats to cook with and add flavor to meals: olive oil, coconut oil, avocado are my everyday go-to’s.
- Several portions of a healthy pre-made carb/starch/bean that can be used as a base in any meal. Quinoa, brown rice, lentils, and chickpeas are all great. Cauliflower rice and zoodles (zucchini noodles) are both tasty, satisfying substitutes for white rice and pasta and are becoming more prevalent in grocery stores.
- Hard-boiled eggs.
- Spices that enhance the flavor of things without having to add much else. My go-to’s are turmeric, cumin, cayenne, truffle salt and coriander.
What are some “safe” snacks for myself and my family?
My family loves popcorn (1-2 cups). We enhance the flavor by adding Bragg’s nutritional yeast on it with a dash of salt. Unsalted/unroasted nuts/seeds are great. Cut-up veggies with hummus, Wasa crackers with a tablespoon of nut butter, and dark chocolate (1 square) with 80%+ cacao are all nutritionally beneficial and satisfying.
How has better nutrition helped you—both when you were a new mom and as you’ve gotten older?
I am fortunate because good nutrition has always been a part of my life, thanks Mom! I’m not perfect; I like my wine and dark chocolate! However, without having good nutrition as a solid foundation, I would be an emotional and physical wreck.
When I was a new Mom getting little to no sleep (with both boys!), I made healthy food my focus because it helped me with my mental well being and enabled me to maintain a healthy weight. Now that I’m in my 40s, my hormonal health is changing, and I have to pay even more attention to my diet because it really affects my moods and my sleep. Avoiding too much sugar is key and staying focused on a diet rich in greens/veggies and protein always makes me feel my best.
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