Late Night Snacks That You (& Your Body) Can Feel Good About

Chia pudding glass jar.jpg

We hear it all the time: don’t eat after dinner!

For the most health supportive eating practices, we often recommend that your dinner be the last food you eat for the day. Particularly for those looking to lose weight or rebalance hormones, for optimal digestion and to reduce stress on the body and prioritize sleep, eating late in to the night is certainly not ideal, huge truth there.

But one person’s schedule does not match the schedule of the next and real life can get in the way of an ideal eating schedule, let’s face it! Some folks have to work until 6 or 7 or 8 or 9 or 10pm and maybe there’s a decent dinner in there somewhere or maybe there isn’t, regardless their bodies are hungry and searching for nutrient input in the later hours and hey, that’s life and that’s also totally ok!

One thing I know for sure is that late night food HAS to be easy! As an athlete and a dancer with occasional late night rehearsals, I’m no stranger to the evening stumble home, tummy grumbling, blank faced fridge stare! Planning is everything (as you’ve heard me say so many times already 😉), likely you know you’re schedule ahead of time and likely you can take 10 minutes to do a little prep, (you know you can!) and having a little something on hand, ready for your tired self, will help your late-night super-bagged self out BIG time!

As with everything food related, there are better and worst choices that can be made in the hours past dinner and what you put in your body at that time can greatly affect your sleep, your digestion, your immune function, and how good you feel when you awake the next morning!

Here are a few things to consider…

 Choosing the Right Foods Past 6pm

  • Easy to Digest: This is not a great time for complex proteins or difficult to break down grains, your digestive system is getting ready for rest, just as you are, so consider gentle, soothing foods: simple carbs, plant-based proteins, oats, fruit, avocado, bananas, soup, etc.

  • Foods High in Potassium & Magnesium: Both these minerals can help to promote relaxation, sleep, and ease the body into the parasympathetic nervous system for a restful overnight.

    • Great Sources of Magnesium: Greens, Kale, Avocado, Banana, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, Figs, Chia Seeds, Raspberries, & Fish

    • Great Sources of Potassium: Bananas, Oranges, Cantaloupe, Honeydew, Apricots, Grapefruits, Spinach, Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Mushrooms, Peas, & Cucumbers

  • Foods That Help Produce Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm (sleep/wake patterns).  As we approach the end of the day, melatonin production naturally increases to help you sleep. Certain nutrients can aid in the production of melatonin: tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, & B6.

    • Best Foods for Melatonin Production: Oats, Nuts, Seeds, Legumes, Leafy Greens, Banana, Avocado, Flaxseeds & Sunflower seeds, Cherries, Chia Seeds

  • Foods to Steer Clear From: Caffeine, Spicy Foods, Alcohol, Animal Protein, Animal Fat, Heavy Meals: Pasta/Brown Rice/Raw Vegetables, & Large Portions

Bananas, baskey.jpg

Late Night, Restful Sleep & Happy Belly,
Snack Ideas

  • Chia Pudding + Fruit/Berries

  • Overnight Oats/Almond Butter Oatmeal

  • Small Bowl Lentil Soup/Mushroom Soup

  • Guacamole + Rice Cakes/Rice Crackers

  • Lentil Hummus + Rice Cakes/Rice Crackers

  • Warm Almond Milk

  • Banana + Almond/Sunflower Seed Butter

  • Banana Ice Cream

  • Steamed Greens + Avocado + Lemon + Salt

MY FAVOURITE VANILLA CHIA PUDDING

1/3 cup chia seeds
1 ½ plant based milk (I use 1 can coconut milk - full fat - this will make it really thick 😋)
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp maple syrup
Note: for Chocolate Chia Pudding, add 2 Tbsp cacao powder
• Combine all ingredients in a pint sized glass jar. Cover the jar with a lid and shake vigorously or stir well with a spatula.
• Chill for about an hour, then return to the jar and shake or stir again. Chill for at least 4 hours, overnight is better.
• Serve cold sprinkled with fruit, your favourite granola, or nuts and seeds.
NOTE: I really like adding lemon juice to this recipe also - 2-3 Tbsp fresh, it ends up tasting like lemon meringue pie!! Sooooo good!!

If you have to have a late night snack, prepare ahead of time and embrace it with intention & mindful choices!

Soup's On: Boosting The Benefits of Your Soup

lentil-soup-rustic-.jpg

Autumn Soup’s ON!

How to Boost the Benefits of your Soup

The air is cooling off and the body is craving warmth. Warming foods are often those most available in the Fall and Winter months: squashes, potatoes, yams, root vegetables and many spices. There’s a reason our bodies crave these foods: they are usually denser, richer in fats and calories, and tend to break down slowly in the digestive tract, releasing a steady flow of energy and raising internal body temperatures.

  • Use good quality oil: For most oils, their beneficial compounds are destroyed once they are heated; this turns them rancid and encourages formation of free radicals. The best oils to use for cooking are coconut oil, grapeseed oil, or organic butter.

  • Use beneficial herbs and spices: Boosting soups with immune enhancing herbs and spices not only ups the health benefits, but adds delicious flavor and warmth. Best fall herbs and spices: garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, curry, cinnamon, cloves, ginseng and fennel.

spices-for-soup.jpg
  • Use homemade veggie stock or bone broth: Homemade is always best: you know where your ingredients came from, when it was made, how it was stored, and made by YOU = made with LOVE.

  • Use organic ingredients: Reducing the amounts of pesticides and herbicides in your diet and in your life, is always beneficial. Choose organic and locally grown as much as possible.

  • Add greens: An easy way to boost nutrient and antioxidant content: most are rich in vitamins A, C, K, and calcium. Once your soup is done, turn off the stove and add a few handfuls of your favorite greens. They will wilt in no time and can be added to any soup.

  • Store properly and try to avoid re-heating: To avoid any leaching of chemicals into your yummy creations, always store soups in glass containers or mason jars. If freezing, make sure to leave at least 1 inch at the top of your jar to avoid cracking. When re-heating your soups, do this at a medium temperature in order to preserve as many nutrients as possible. Boil for only a few minutes; the longer a soup is on boil, the more nutrients are destroyed. OR…try your soup cold, you may be surprised!

Find my Coconut Curry Butternut Squash Soup here

Celeriac - What Is That Thing?

celeriac-.jpg

What you should really know about this “handsome” and delicious root vegetable

Celeriac. Not so terribly appealing, but it’s what’s on the inside that matters, people. If your eyes are not impressed, use your nose and pick that little baby up and smell it. Y-U-M. Though infused with an earthy flavour, their taste is so similar to celery, you would hardly know the difference.  I discovered these gems in late summer at the local farmers market. The farmer snuck one into my grocery bag with a little wink and a nod and told me to trust her.  I peeled it, chopped it up into large chunks, added some other delightful veggies and made a slow cooked soup broth. I let it simmer the day away and around supper time I had a taste….bam! Delish! I can’t even brag about my cooking here because it was so darn simple.  After adding some leeks and potatoes, I made an amazing-nurture-the-soul-body-mind-guts-and-all masterpiece of a soup.

What’s in this lovely root vegetable for you?

  • Rich in Vitamins A, C, K, and E, essential oils, and carotene

  • It has anti-inflammatory (especially for the intestines), analgesic, and antiseptic properties and is calming (sigh)

  • High in minerals: calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc

  • Supports cellular health: beneficial in the maintenance of cell formation and metabolism, and helps maintain nervous system health

  • It can be helpful in weight-loss: it’s high in potassium which can relieve bloating, is high in fiber to fill you up, and low in calories

What else can I do with it?

  • Toss it into curry, chile, stew, stir-fry

  • Juice it! Try it with apples, parsley, carrot, fennel…

  • Add it to a mash

  • Slice and sauté with organic butter

  • Grate into a shredded salad/coleslaw

Note: celeriac keeps well in a root cellar and can be enjoyed well into the fall and winter months.

Celeriac: your “root” to better health! 


What Makes A Really Good Cookie?

ultimate-cookies-.jpg

What makes a really good cookie?

And by good, I mean health benefiting, energy boosting, and super satisfying, just to be clear. A truly good cookie can be everything you want it to be AND make your body, mind, and soul happy.

What do we love most about cookies?  They’re chewy, sweet, salty, satisfying, and usually contain chocolate.

When constructing the healthy cookie, we can honour all of these delicious qualifications with a few simple alterations to the average cookie recipe.

Healthify Your Cookie:

  • Chewiness: something to hold your cookie together. Some good health benefiting suggestions: chia + water, ground flax +
    water, eggs, and nut butters.

  • Sweetness: oh so necessairre!! What’s key to gaining ground in the daily health challenge is to swap out those refined sweetness wannabes (and I mean permanently) for body-loving goodness such as honey, maple syrup, bananas, or dates.

  • Salty: this one’s easy! Just say no to iodized salt. For true mineral uptake and to receive actual nutrition from salt, choose good quality sea salt or pink himalayan salt.

  • Satisfaction: what makes a cookie’s satisfaction meter shoot through the roof is not the sugar and chocolate, my friends, it is the fat + carbohydrate + protein quotient. Using all 3 macronutrients in a power snack allows you to feel full longer, to keep your blood sugar levels stable, and to boost your energy and brainpower in a way that doesn’t mess with your metabolism. Some ideas: for good fat: coconut oil/nuts/seeds; good protein: nuts/seeds/hemp hearts; and good carbohydrates: oats/oat flour/almond meal/banana.

  • Chocolate: be choosy about chocolate! Real dark chocolate is full of beneficial minerals and antioxidants, but don’t let the store shelves fool you! There are many variations on chocolate out there will a LOT of added nonsense.  Find some dark goodies with as few ingredients as possible (3), look for cacao in the ingredients list and choose minimal sweetness.


chia-pic.jpg

Here’s my latest and most ingenious cookie recipe that I am so proud of and that my family and I did the kitchen happy dance for when I first took them out of the oven! The absolute bonus? They’re SO easy!

The Ultimate Cookie

ultimate-single-cookie.jpg

2 Tbsp chia seeds + 2 Tbsp water
2 ripe bananas
⅓ cup honey
⅓ cup almond butter
1 tsp vanilla
½ heaping tsp cinnamon
Good pinch of sea salt
¼ cup hemp hearts
1 ½ cup oats
⅓ cup raisins
⅓ cup chocolate chips

  • In a small bowl, whisk together chia seeds and water and let sit 10 minutes.

  • In a medium bowl, whisk wet ingredients together with a fork.

  • Add in dry ingredients and combine. Fold in raisins and chocolate chips. Form into cookies of whatever size you like and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  • Bake at 325 for 25 mins.

My New Friend: Burdock Root

Burdock-root-.jpg

Let me introduce you my new friend: burdock root.

It’s amazing to me that I live in an area where plants, roots, berries, and mushrooms grow wild and I am fairly unfamiliar with so many of them.  I have decided that it’s time to change this. A good reminder: grocery shopping in the forest is free! One of my first budding friendships is with an earthy and lovely little fellow called burdock root.

Originating in Asia and Europe the burdock plant has naturalized in North America, now growing widespread throughout. Likely you’ve driven by, walked beside, or hopped over this so-called weed many times in your life. This member of the thistle family has elephant-ear shaped mature leaves that grow to be about 2 feet long by 1 foot wide along the bottom of the plant. The upper leaves are smaller and more egg-like in shape. It grows low to the ground, enjoying well-drained soil which it often finds in ditches and creeksides, and produces long stalks ending in prickly purple flowers. The plant may grow as high as 3 to 4 feet after its second year. The roots are the most beneficial and medicinal part of the plant, and can be found for sale in health food stores or Asian markets. It has a slightly sweet and earthy flavor.

Now, why the heck would you want to eat it? Burdock root is serious business when it comes to thriving health! The list is long:

  • It is a powerhouse anti-oxidant and is high in inulin (dietary fiber) acting as a prebiotic (good for your guts), a blood-sugar stabilizer, and regulating cholesterol levels in the blood.

  • It is jam packed with vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, niacin, vitamins E and C, iron, manganese, and magnesium. It contains a potent dose of the electrolyte potassium, which helps maintain blood pressure, heart rate, and cellular and bodily fluids.

  • Burdock is known as a blood purifier and for its contribution in treating skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, and is supportive for both the liver and gall bladder.

How to use it:

Now that I got all that informational business off my chest, here’s the good stuff you’re really after. I know, I know, thank you for waiting!

  • Make tea: burdock root makes a beautiful liver cleansing tea. Combine 2 peeled and chopped roots (4” long each) with 2 stalks of chopped lemongrass and 3 inches of chopped ginger, and cover with 12 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer it for at least 20 minutes (1 hour is preferable). Strain and sweeten with raw honey.

  • Shred into salad: add a few tablespoons into a coleslaw with carrots, cabbage, beets, cilantro, and fennel, or any other combo that suits your taste buds.

  • Simmer into vegetable stock: or throw a handful into your soup with your veggies. I love the earthy flavor in my miso soup.

  • Grate a little into your rice: rice salad, leftover fried rice, or just dice some up and pop it into the pot while it’s cooking.

  • Give a compliment: burdock compliments garlic, onion, ginger, turmeric, mushrooms, carrots, and parsnips.

  • Store it: wrap burdock root in a damp paper towel and store it in the fridge, where it should keep for several months.

Let me know if you come across some delectable burdock recipes, I’d love to know what you’re doing!


Start Your Day Feeling Energized & Balanced

blueberry-smoothie-.jpg

With 8 Simple Ingredients

  • Lemon water: Upon first rising, drink a large class of warm or room temperature lemon water. Set a large masun jar of water on the counter overnight and squeeze in some fresh lemon. Or if you are wanting a warm drink, use boiled water. This awakens the digestive system, rehydrates your cells, and gets things moving (literally!). It also stimulates a gentle liver cleanse.

  • Blueberries: Bursting with antioxidants, these little powerhouses are full of flavour, are easy to add to most breakfast creations, and can improve memory throughout your day.

  • Chia seeds: These nutrient dense seeds can be sprinkled on granola, oatmeal, into smoothies, and can be served up as pudding for a yogourt substitute. Try my favourite morning chia pudding recipe here.They are rich in Omega 3 fats (necessary for transmitting signals between brain cells), fiber, and are cancer-fighting warriors!

  • Avocados: Rich in vitamin E and rock star healthy fats, these green delights can be served on toast, beside eggs, alone with a touch of salt, or blended into pudding or your morning smoothie.

  • Dark leafy greens: For breakfast? Yes! Their impressive list of health benefits include: calcium, iron, antioxidants, beta-carotene, phytochemicals, fiber, and vitamin E. Serve with eggs, brown rice, juiced, or in smoothies.

  • Almonds: A good source of morning protein, these also contain dopamine which enhances motivation and focus. Sprinkle them on your meal of choice, or guzzle down some homemade almond milk.

  • Green tea: Yummy hot or cold (good for smoothies), green tea can help gear you up for a busy day without the acidifying effects of coffee. Famous for its high concentration of antioxidants, it also contains a little booster called theanine, an amino acid that can help you focus and relax at the same time.

  • Nutrient boosters: Shift your nutrient intake into high gear! Try these boosters stirred into granola or chia pudding, or blended into your favourite smoothie. Some of my go-to’s are: spirulina powder (high in iron, antioxidants, chlorophyll, and vitamins A, B12, and K); maca root powder (helps regulate stress, boost energy, and balance blood sugar levels); and brain fueling nutritional oils high in Omega 3 fats (add 1 Tbsp of hempseed, cod liver, or flaxseed oil to any breakfast).

What You Need To Know About Turmeric

turmeric-root-960x640.jpg

Hearing a LOT about turmeric lately? There is some major buzz about the health benefits of turmeric (or curcumin) and rightly so. To clarify, turmeric is the name of the root and thus, the powder that is made once the root is dried. Curcumin is the naturally occuring, active chemical within the root/powder which provides its color and health benefiting properties. This deep yellow-orange root is well known for its contribution to Indian curries, delectable stews, elixirs, and tea. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to boast about, but its beneficial super powers do not end there.

Health Benefits of Turmeric:

  • improves liver function

  • provides cardiovascular protection

  • protects against Alzheimer’s disease

  • cancer prevention

  • alleviates joint pain

  • eases depression

  • increases wound healing and skin repair

Supplementation is one way to get more turmeric into your body, and that can work for many people. However, I am a huge supporter of eating real food the real way. If you can get it, using the actual root is definitely ideal.

What you need to know:

I have recently learned that we do not actually absorb turmeric very well all on its own and, like many medicinal roots and herbs, there are a few little secret helpers needed to increase our assimilation and utilization within the body.

2 Important Ingredients To Better Absorb Turmeric:

  1. Fat: Turmeric is fat-soluble. Why does this matter? When something is fat-soluble, that means it dissolves in fat and needs fat in order to make it past the stomach and into the small intestines where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. In order to get the most out of this orange super food, it’s best to take it with a bit of fat (a little coconut oil will do the trick just fine!)

  2. Black Pepper: Black pepper can enhance turmeric’s bioavailability (how much of the ingredient we actually absorb) by 2000 fold. This is big news! Most of the curcumin ingested gets metabolized and excreted before it can be absorbed. Black pepper contains a potent compound called piperine, which aids in assimilation of turmeric and decreases the chance that we will excrete all the good stuff.

Getting More Turmeric In Your Diet

  • Eat More Curry: Variations of curry have been around for centuries and there is a wide variety of recipes available. Here’s one of my favsOr this one.  Curry is a versatile, delicious, and seriously nurturing way to feed your family.

  • Sprinkle It On: Shake a little dried turmeric (1/8tsp) and ground pepper (2 twists) on a half an avocado, a piece of baked salmon, or on some chocolate.

  • Salad Dressing: Combine turmeric, pepper, olive oil and lemon for a salad dressing base, add in garlic, ginger, cumin, salt, tahini and tamari for extra flavour. Or try My Favorite Turmeric Dressing

  • Add It To Your Stir Fry: Veggies love turmeric, so toss it in your wok with pepper, coconut oil & some other warm spices.

  • Make Tea: Simmer 1” minced turmeric with 2” minced ginger in 2 cups of water for about 20minutes. Before serving, stir in a little coconut oil, pepper, honey and almond milk.

Surprising and Delicious Turmeric Hot Chocolate:

hot-chocolatelate.jpg

1 cup boiling water
2 Tbsp cacao powder (heaping!)
1 tsp turmeric root, minced or 1/3 tsp powdered
1 tsp ginger, minced or 1/3 tsp powdered
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tsp honey
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
A few turns of freshly ground pepper
¼ – ½ cup almond milk (adjust to your preferred creaminess)

  • Simply place all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Warning: when blending hot liquids, place a tea towel over top of blender to prevent liquid explosions.

  • Drink warm.

Be Well. Eat More Turmeric.



Love Thy Liver

Lemon-water-960x640.jpg

It’s officially Spring!

A time for growth, rejuvenation, new beginnings, renewal, inspiration, and cleansing; it is a time we empty out the junk, clean out the back of the cupboards, sweep the cobwebs, and prepare the garden.

It is also an excellent time to clean up the body, reduce toxic load, drop a few bad habits, and give your liver a little loving.

Spring is the best time for a gentle cleanse, particularly one that focuses the liver. Biologically, nature supports cleansing the body during the spring.   As the seasons change, the air warms, and the blossoms begin to show themselves on the trees; so too does the body change, we require less sleep, our mood is lifted, and our body craves fresh greens, fruit and lighter foods. The organs are ready to lighten their load, release old and built up toxins, and fortify with nutrient-rich, but easy to digest foods.

Why Cleanse the Liver?

The liver is pretty much the big kahuna of the bodily organs; it has several vital roles to play and is responsible for much of our overall health. All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines must pass through the liver. The liver must process this blood, break it down, balance its pH, and distribute it, creating the proper nutrients for the body to use.

The liver is also responsible for:

  • Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion

  • Production of certain proteins for blood plasma

  • Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body

  • Store and release glucose as needed

  • Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content

  • Conversion of harmful ammonia to urea (urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine)

  • Clearing the blood of drugs and other harmful substances

  • Regulating blood clotting

  • Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream

Symptoms of a Burdened Liver:

Low energy and/or chronic fatigue
Mood swings
Trouble with weight-loss
Anger, frustration, anxiety
Headaches, brain fog and difficulty focusing
Muscle aches and stiffness
Bad breath or body odor
Bruising easily
Jaundice or skin and eyes taking on a yellow hugh
Dark urine
Itchy skin
Abdominal discomfort: pain, swelling, bloating, gas, and poor digestion
Nausea

So let’s say you’re not quite ready to embark on a full-on liver cleanse. I get it. It’s tough to jump into some big dietary changes, even temporarily, especially if you aren’t ready. There are many gentle and simple ways to show your liver a little appreciation and give it a break from all its hard work. So here’s a way for you to start small.

Easy Ways To Give Your Liver Some Extra Love

  • Start the Day With Lemon Water: Lemon is a lovely gentle detoxifier, it flushes out old toxins, gives you a boost of vitamin C, and hydrates your cells. Lemon reduces inflammation and oxidation to the liver, and can relieve some toxic overload. A large glass of room temperature, or warm, lemon water first thing in the morning is an amazing way to wake up your organs, re-hydrate at a cellular level, and entice a gentle, regular cleanse. Leave a large mason jar on your counter overnight, add a few fresh slices of lemon in the morning, and, for optimal benefit, consume a good half hour before putting anything else in your body. Easy as that.

  • Stay Hydrated: Every organ in the body needs sufficient hydration to operate effectively.  Keep water on hand at all times, carrying a water bottle with you to work, drinking herbal teas at intervals throughout the day, and ensuring you consume at least 1.5-2 litres daily. To increase water consumption, try flavouring your water with lime, ginger, cucumber, mint, raspberries, etc. or cool down some herbal teas. Remember, by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so sip regularly throughout the entire day for a happy liver.

  • Lighten the Load: All day long, the liver is busy removing toxins from the body, processing food nutrients, and regulating body metabolism. The last thing it needs is to be overworked with a regular supply of toxic materials and hard to filter non-food stuffs. You know I’m right. Reduce the trash: limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption, pay attention to food labels and watch for dangerous food additives such as MSG, which has over 50 different names (here’s a list), food dyes, and hard to pronounce preservatives. Swap out iodized salt for a mineral rich pink Himalayan sea salt, and stay far, far away from all artificial sweeteners and rancid oils: deep fried foods of all kinds, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, canola and vegetable oils, and old, rancid oils that have been hiding out in your pantry for way too long (chuck those today!).

  • Consume Foods that Support the Liver: Fantastic news! The liver-lovin’ real foods list is extensive, colourful, and most delicious. Include these beauties in your diet regularly: apples, garlic, ginger, lemon, parsley, broccoli, avocadoes, apple cider vinegar, asparagus, beets, berries of all kinds, brazil nuts, cabbage, celery, leafy greens (kale, chard, romaine, beet greens, lettuces), fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, water kefir, beet kvass), onions, seeds (flaxseeds, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp), olive oil, coconut oil, spices & herbs of all kinds, for starters!!

  • Take it Down a Notch: Stress is taxing on the entire body and all its systems, and the liver is no exception. Regular stress influences how the organs function, putting added strain on them, and pushing them too hard. Like so many other parts of the body, when worked and pushed too hard, the liver can’t function as well as it should. Elevated and continuous cortisol levels can create fatty deposits where they shouldn’t be and overburden a liver, slowing its processes. Anything and everything you can do to encourage regular calming practices into your everyday life can have serious, and often life-saving, benefits. Identify your biggest stressors in life and assess whether or not they are necessary, are serving you, or can be diminished. Just as importantly, is implementing regular practices of calm: meditation, yoga, regular exercise, walking, hiking, swimming, time in nature, time with animals, and time with loved ones.

Making your health a priority is a full-time job. It requires dedication, time, and determination. Spend a little time this spring reducing the load and spreading the love to your liver. Appreciate this organ for all it does and give it a break. Amazing things may take shape from there!

Keep it simple.

Stay on course.

You got this.

Mellow Out Those Pesky Hormones

woman walking forest small.jpg

You may not believe this

but

sometimes…

hormones…

make me kind of…

crazy🤪

I know, it’s very shocking, but true. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone on this one.

The upside is that we are designed to have hormones. They are normal, alright?! Hormones are an important part of the body’s natural, physical processes, and we need them, no matter how pesky they are!

Hormones are our body’s chemical messengers. They are created by the endocrine system and travel throughout the bloodstream to tissues and organs. Hormone production and their efficiency affect growth and development, homeostasis (the internal balance of body systems), metabolic function, adrenals, sleep, moodiness, stress levels, sexual functions, and many other bodily processes. Supporting hormone function and, thus, the endocrine system, can have a positive effect on overall wellbeing and be particularly helpful during the nasty week or so pre-menses and during.

Regulated Hormones = Happy Humans

How and what we eat can largely affect the functioning of these hormones, aiding them in their natural processes or interfering and throwing them off course.

Get off the rollercoaster. Find better balance.

Natural Ways to Mellow Out Your Hormones

Woman-meditating-nature.jpg
  1. Eat the Right Fats: Too much of the wrong fats can increase estrogen levels, but a good balance of healthy fats can help regulate them. The buzz about fat is ongoing and can be overwhelming, I know. A simple rule with fats is to stick with the ones that we know are beneficial: coconut oil, olive oil, flax/hemp/chia seed oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish, and stay away from the ones we know are not. Anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, margarines, vegetable oil, canola oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, spoiled/old oils, and deep-fried foods are best to steer clear of (eating rancid or modified fats is incredibly harmful to the body, increasing risk of disease, obesity, cardiovascular stress, and interfering with our production and regulation of natural hormones). For a healthy oil guideline check this out: Choosing Oils.

  2. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Long story short, reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake during the week prior to and during menses can reduce excess bleeding, mood swings, and emotional upset, increase deep sleep and relaxation, and decrease swelling, which can reduce cramping and lower back pain. There is much talk about how regular use of stimulants and alcohol are quite taxing on the liver, kidneys, heart, and blood transportation, but we are not often informed about their ill-effects on proper hormone function. As they put strain on the endocrine system, increasing inflammation and negatively affecting fluctuating blood sugar levels, it is best to keep these to a minimum.

  3. Encourage Better Sleep: Hormonal fluctuations are stressful on the body, demanding more energy to divert emotional upsets, anxiety, and prepare the body for menses. We are naturally more tired during this time in the cycle and require rest. Getting into bed a little earlier with a cup of raspberry leaf tea (reduces inflammation and eases cramping) and a hot water bottle is a great way to nurture the female process and wind you down for a solid night’s rest. Make sleep a priority during this time.

  4. Exercise Gently: The female body does not need to endure strenuous cardiovascular activity or heavy weight bearing exercises during a time of regeneration. Walking, yoga, swimming, and gentle dance, are all good ways to keep the body moving without causing further stress. DO keep moving though, regular exercise positively impacts regularity, duration, and quantity of flow, and many women notice improvement in their pre-menopausal symptoms when every day exercise levels are increased.

  5. Nourish Your Soul: Relax, listen, talk, read, meditate, journal, and practice compassion for self. It is during emotional outbursts and upsets that we will often have insight into deeper issues or ones that have been set aside. Take the time to listen to what your inner wisdom is trying to tell you and acknowledge what comes through. Talk about it, write it down, and breathe it out. Remember that being emotional makes us human, not out of control or unreasonable.

  6. Reduce Stress: Living in that fight or flight, sympathetic nervous system dominance, exacerbates symptoms of all kinds, particularly when it comes to hormones. In reaction to stressors, the body releases hormones such as cortisol, causing a temporary increase in energy production, often times at the cost of other bodily process, such as digestion, immune system function, and hormonal processes. Stress can disrupt the natural hormone cycle, contributing to increased symptoms of pms, sleep irregularities, shortened or more frequent periods, excess bleeding, and in extreme cases, loss of periods all together. If your stress levels are getting in the way of balanced health, maybe it’s time to take a load off: reduce your load at work, let go of an extracurricular responsibility, take a day off to have a long bath and read your novel, meditate, deep breathe, and get yourself to that Restorative Yoga class you keep avoiding!

  7. Prioritize Good Food Choices: Chocolate you say? There’s a reason women crave chocolate during the week leading up to menses. As the body prepares to lose extra volumes of blood, it demands more nutrients, particularly minerals, and real, unprocessed, high-cacao content chocolate is very high in minerals and the perfect mineral booster pre-menses (in small doses of course!). Eating a particularly nutrient-dense diet during this time encourages regular hormonal function, decreasing excess inflammation and reducing stress on the adrenals and the endocrine system.

“If a woman is upset, hold her and tell her how beautiful she is. If she starts to growl, retreat to a safe distance and throw chocolate at her.”

Foods to include:

avocado.jpg
  • Fibrous Vegetables: Add broccoli, carrots, leafy greens, cucumbers, cabbage, and kale to your regular diet in order to increase fiber and antioxidant intake, and increase high nutrient dosage, and improve digestion.

  • Beneficial Fats: As mentioned above, good sources include avocados, salmon, coconut oil, olive oil, chia seeds, good quality nuts and seeds.

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Beneficial for balancing blood sugars and reducing sugar cravings, some of my favourites include quinoa, brown/wild rice, oats, and millet.

  • Magnesium-Rich Foods: Magnesium can calm the nervous system and relax blood vessels. Good sources include: pumpkin seeds, bananas, dark leafy greens, fish, avocados, beans, and (drumroll please) chocolate.

  • Quality Protein: Keep energy reserves stocked and maintain stabilized blood sugars. Sources include eggs, ethically sourced chicken, fish, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.

  • Beneficial Herbs & Spices: To reduce swelling, pelvic pain, and support liver function, super-charge the diet with garlic, ginger, turmeric, red raspberry leaf tea, chaste tree berry, milk thistle, dandelion root, maitake mushroom, and shisandra berry.

Helpful Supplements:

  • Magnesium. Magnesium is crucial to pituitary health and regulation of critical hormones that signal other glands in the endocrine system to perform optimally. Low levels of those foundational hormones can cause irregular ovulation and thyroid function issues, which can lead to bigger hormonal issues.  Most women are deficient in magnesium and many have reported reduced symptoms with supplementation. Magnesium is also an amazing nervous system regulator and can be beneficial for stress reduction, mood enhancement, and calming for the mind and body, particularly when taken before bed.

  • Maca: Maca is an endocrine adaptogen, gaining a gleaming reputation for its positive influence on hormone regulation. Maca stimulates and nourishes the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, which can have positive influences on the thyroid, pancreas, adrenal, ovarian and testicular glands.

  • Spirulina: This beautiful blue-green algae contains large amounts of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, all of which are essential hormone-balancing nutrients. This bright green powder can contribute to a reduction in cramping, mood instability, breast tenderness and overall inflammation. Spirulina can also be beneficial for blood sugar balance, increased energy, and weight management.

  • B-complex: Beneficial for energy production, metabolic function, nervous system function, and progesterone production, the B vitamins work with the liver enzymes to remove excess estrogen and boost the immune system. Supplementing with a B-complex can improve energy levels, mental clarity, and provide better overall hormone management.

  • Probiotics. A healthy micro-biome is essential for balancing hormonal processes. Healthy gut bacteria supports the metabolization of estrogen, helps to control cortisol levels, contributes to regulated insulin levels, and regulates adequate melatonin levels which may increase sleep.

  • Primrose Oil: Effective in proper prostaglandin regulation, this powerful, essential fatty acid has been shown to improve skin quality, mitigate PMS symptoms, lessen the severity of periods, regulate hormone production, improve insulin sensitivity, and reduce systemic inflammation.

  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D can be particularly beneficial for hormone balance, as it has anti-inflammatory effects, is helpful to maintain proper blood sugar balance, is known for its antidepressant qualities, and is beneficial for estrogen dominance rebalancing. Vitamin D can also be beneficial for cancer prevention, anti-aging, and is gaining popularity for its role in autoimmune conditions.

Note: Always check with a health professional before starting a supplementation regime in order to receive proper guidance on what may be the best choices for you!

Resources:
Emily Courtney, https://www.hyperbiotics.com/blogs/recent-articles/balance-your-hormones-by-restoring-your-gut-health
Mara Belzer, https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/how-to-replenish-your-vitamin-d-levels/
Katie Wells, https://wellnessmama.com/8254/maca-herb-profile/
Stephanie Ruper, http://paleoforwomen.com/evening-primrose-oil-for-acne-estrogen-dominance-pms-and-inflammation/
Robyn Srigley, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20217/6-hormonebalancing-foods-for-women.html