Hormonal imbalances in women are so common that 80% of us will experience some sort of hormonal issue in our lifetime. In other words, not only is it common, it’s actually the norm. Unfortunately there is very little information out there when it comes to both the causes and symptoms of hormonal imbalances, leaving many of us in the dark. For 5 years I suffered from moderate to severe hormonal acne without knowing the root cause. While not all women experience acne, hormonal issues can manifest themselves in a variety of ways including headaches, inability to lose weight, fatigue, infertility and so much more.
During the 5 years I was suffering from acne, I was making a series of choices that I thought were beneficial to my health, but that I learned later were actually preventing me from healing my hormonal imbalance. In the months since I’ve posted my story and started my Facebook Group, I’ve learned that so many women are making these same mistakes. Today I want to talk about what some of those mistakes are to help so many women suffering from similar issues.
Not Eating Enough Food: Unfortunately, our culture is one in which we consider eating less to be healthy. Sure, being glutinous and eating cake and fast food all day isn’t recommended, but what if you’re eating good, whole food? Should we still be restricting ourselves if our caloric intake is made up of nutrient-dense fats, protein and unprocessed carbohydrates? The answer is most certainly not. The problem is, so many of us end up skipping meals or eating small snacks instead of meals, which can severely affect our hormonal balance. Not only that, but sometimes we fail to pay attention to our protein intake, which I’ve found can really derail my day and set me up for some pretty severe issues if I don’t get adequate protein in the days that follow.
My advice is not to count calories, per se, but to focus on getting 3 full meals in during the day that all have protein, fat and unprocessed carbohydrates. Assuming you eat enough to fill you up and you’re filling you’re plate with healthy food, you should be fine. If you’re finding that three meals a day is too much, try to get in the same amount of calories, but throughout the course of the day in smaller meals instead. One of my favorite snacks lately is Enjoy Life’s new Proburst Bites. I’m not a huge fan of most protein bars, but these delicious snacks taste just like chocolate truffles (without a ton of sugar) and only 3 of them gives me up to 7 grams of protein. You can get 10% off these delicious Bites by using the code PROBURST747 at EnjoyLifeFoods.com!
Eating a Low Carb Diet: For all my paleo readers, which is likely almost all of you, I know this one is probably hard to hear. But eating a severely low carb diet can be detrimental to healing hormonal issues. What was always so curious to me about my hormonal acne, was that it started almost simultaneous to me going on a paleo diet. Sure, I’d also just gone on off birth control without paying any attention to what I might need to do to help my body recover from that, but I was certainly making things worse with my likely under 50 grams of carbohydrates a day diet. While a low-carb, paleo diet can be fantastic for overall health and wellness, there are some principals that can negatively affect hormone balance. As a part of my protocol to heal my acne, I decided to up my carb intake. Not only did I feel significantly better, but it also helped my hormones come back into balance for the first time in years.
I am not telling you to go out and eat a bunch of sugar or processed carbohydrates, but upping starchy vegetables and eating things like sweet potatoes, white potatoes and even white rice and clean gluten free bread can really make a difference. If you’re worried about gaining weight, keep in mind that our bodies normally prevent us from losing weight at all when our hormones are out of balance. Eating more carbohydrates will help your body heal so that it can lose weight in the future. Trying to lose weight with hormonal issues is a lost cause that will only make your problems worse… which brings me to my next point.
Exercising Too Much: When you’re suffering from a hormonal imbalance, what your body needs most is nourishing food, rest and activities that help to reduce stress. Consistently working out too hard, especially chronic cardio (running, elliptical, spinning, etc.) can negatively affect your bodies ability to heal. When I was first trying to heal my hormones I was working out extremely hard. It wasn’t until I took a new approach to exercise that I started to feel a lot better and could notice a huge difference in my hormonal acne and other issues I’d been suffering from like fatigue and headaches. Walking, yoga and barre are all great options when struggling from hormonal issues, but I find that even lifting weights as long as you’re not straining can be fine too.
Not Taking a Well Rounded Approach: This is one of the most common mistakes I see women making when struggling with hormonal issues and absolutely a mistake I made as well. You can read more about my entire health journey as it related to hormones here, but the summary is that I spent a lot of times thinking that I could out-supplement an unhealthy lifestyle. So, for example, I started taking a bunch of supplements to support my hormones but still wasn’t eating enough, upping my carb intake, working out less, eliminating things like alcohol that negatively affect our bodies ability to detox, not drinking enough water, not focusing on gut health… the list goes on. Simply taking supplements, or initiating just one strategy isn’t going to show you the results you want. Although fixing your hormonal issues naturally requires some pretty significant lifestyle changes, it’s truly the only way that you’re going to see results. If you’re looking for more information on everything I did to heal my hormones, I highly recommend watching this video and reading this post.