We all stride to be as healthy as possible, but this is often easier said than done. To help my clients I’ve pulled together my top 11 ways to ensure that you’re making healthier choices on a daily basis. I recommend to my clients that they keep this list close to hand when they are meal planning or doing their shopping. By following these 11 tips you are improving your diet and nourishing your body. This is turn can help to alleviate any health issues; especially hormone imbalances and blood sugar levels.
1 – Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables.
These contain an excellent source of vitamins, minerals (e.g. calcium), antioxidants and fibre. This gives your body the right ‘tools’ to heal itself.
ACTION: Aim for 5+ a day of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit a day. For instance, you could have banana and frozen berries with your porridge in the morning, then 1-2 portions at lunch, then some carrots and humus in the afternoon as a snack and finally say a side of 2-3 vegetables with your dinner. Take a look at my resources section for a great chart by Dr Chatterjee that encourages you to eat the rainbow. This could be helpful to ensure that you’re getting the variety needed in your diet and not just sticking to a couple of fruits and vegetables.
2 – Eat complex carbohydrates (e.g. oats, brown rice, quinoa, buckwheat etc)
These will provide you with lasting energy until your next meal; as the body takes more time to digest them than simple carbohydrates (e.g. white bread, honey). This will also help to balance blood sugar levels.
ACTION: Focus on eating complex carbohydrates.
3 – Eat phytoestrogens – beans, lentils, chickpeas or soya products.
These foods have a balancing effect on oestrogen, so are key for women to include in their diet. They also stimulate the production of SHBG, which reduces the ‘free’ males hormones.
ACTION: Try to incorporate these in your diet a couple times a week. For example through adding pulses to a salad, creating a dish centred around a pulse or even having humus as a snack.
4- Eat oily foods – fish, nuts, seeds and oils.
These provide essential fatty acids (EFAs) for the body; which are essential for balancing hormones. I’ve written more about EFAs in my going vegan article.
ACTION: I would recommend incorporating some nuts as a snack each week and eating oily fish at least once a week.
5 – Reduce your intake of saturated fats from animal sources
Saturated fats contribute to weight gain. The more saturated a fat is the harder it is to digest, so it becomes deposited in the body. They also block the body from absorbing other nutrients, especially essential fatty acids. A diet high in saturated fats is known to stimulate oestrogen overproduction.
ACTION: Reduce meat and dairy intake. Try having vegetarian lunches or only having meat every other evening for example.
6 – Drink 2 litres of water a day.
The body is over 70% water and water is involved in nearly every bodily function. Water is also important in transporting nutrients and waste products. Also, many people mistake hunger for thirst.
ACTION: Get a 1 litre water bottle and make sure you fill it up twice a day. If you feel hungry drink a glass of water and wait 30 minutes to see if you are still hungry.
7 – Increase your daily fibre intake
Fibre does more than just prevent constipation. It plays a major role in balancing female hormones, as it prevents oestrogen from being reabsorbed into the blood. The NHS recommends 30g of fibre a day.
ACTION: See what swaps you can do in your diet, such as porridge instead of toast for breakfast or swap a lunchtime sandwich for a jacket potato
8 – Avoid additives, preservatives and chemicals such as artificial sweeteners.
Aim to eat your food in the most natural state possible. Get in the habit of reading labels to see what your food actually contains. For example, if you buy yoghurt it’s better to buy plain natural yoghurt and add some fruit than buying blueberry yoghurt.
ACTION: Get used to reading labels and spotting the unnatural things. A general rule of thumb is to look for things with a maximum of 5 ingredients, as anything more than this is likely to have more unnatural things inside it.
9 – Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine has a diuretic effect on the body, depleting the body of valuable vitamins and minerals that are essential for a healthy hormone balance. It also causes a fast rise in blood sugar levels, followed by a large drop – this contributes to mood swings.
ACTION: Try swapping an afternoon cup of tea or coffee for a non caffeinated herbal tea.
10 – Reduce alcohol
A couple units a week is the maximum you should intake whilst trying to heal your body. Alcohol stresses the liver, which reduces the body’s ability to detoxify. It also contributes to blood sugar imbalance, it can block the absorption of nutrients and interfere with the metabolism of essential fatty acids.
ACTION: Maybe stop drinking alcohol during the week or explore non alcoholic drinks.
11 – Avoid sugar
Sugar can lead to weight gain, which then increases oestrogen production and creates a hormone imbalance. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin is produced, leading to more of your food being converted to fat.
ACTION: Retrain your taste buds away from sugary food, by slowly weaning yourself off super sugary things. For example, swap a milk chocolate bar for some dark chocolate.
Do you feel your diet could use some improvement, but don’t have the time and effort to research it yourself? Why not purchase one of my pre made meal plans? Submit an appointment request here or drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org.