Written by Gabby Borgerink
With the holidays coming up, your initial reaction may be to change your eating drastically to make up for all the treats and food. Unfortunately, we can also see a lot of hormonal and cycle irregularities come up this time of year due to a variety of factors. Lack of sunlight, lack of nutrients, stress, and restrictions are a few that come to mind. The best way to be proactive about supporting your cycle and hormones is to nourish ourselves and take the time to enjoy the delicious food traditions surrounding the holidays.
Nutrition is one of the big puzzle pieces playing a role in our hormones and how our body responds to stress. Lack of nutrients or under-eating can cause our body to go into a state of stress - and without the proper nutrients we aren’t as resilient to normal everyday stressors. When it comes to hormones, they are affected negatively because your body instinctively won’t want to support hormone production and ovulation if there is a chance there aren’t enough resources to sustain you. This can look like delayed or skipped ovulation (anovulation).
Needless to say, nutrition has a huge impact on supporting our stress and hormones, but it isn’t the end all and be all. Focusing on adding in good foods and nourishing the body is key, but also indulging and enjoying foods in good company. Food is meant to be enjoyed.
When in doubt, this is something to remind yourself around the holidays:
“Stressing about the food is worse for your health than the food itself.”
Eat the food, enjoy it, be present and then move on! Now, let’s dive into a few things I recommend you do to feel your best all throughout the holidays.
Chew Your Food Properly and Relax While You Eat
These will both have a positive impact on digestion, and improved digestion means your body can better utilize and absorb nutrients and you will feel your best! When you are distracted or stressed while eating (driving, reading, scrolling Instagram, etc.) your body does not produce the proper amounts of stomach acid and enzymes needed to break down your food. Try to remove distractions while you eat, sit with people you enjoy the company of and be fully present this year.
Eat Frequently Throughout the Day (3 meals + snacks)
Don’t skip meals because you are having a bigger meal later that day or plan to have a few desserts. This is so common for women especially to do when the holiday season comes around. But you still need breakfast, lunch and snacks! Skipping meals puts your body into a state of stress and can disrupt your hormones. Eating every 3-4 hours ensures your blood sugar is balanced and you won’t unintentionally raise your stress levels. This leads to improved mood, better periods, healthy ovulation, and steady energy.
Coffee After Breakfast
Coffee around the holidays is a favorite ritual for many people, and having it after a full breakfast means you will best support your hormones and health. Coffee is pro-metabolic meaning it ramps up your metabolism, therefore you need more fuel. If you consume coffee without any nutrients in your system, you can get those anxious or jittery feelings. It can also contribute to hormonal imbalances, specifically if you have low progesterone or high testosterone caused by increased stressors. I recommend having a breakfast with protein, fat and carbs. For example, two pasture raised eggs cooked in butter, sourdough toast with sliced orange and then adding some extra nutrient boosts to your coffee such as collagen powder or cream.
Sunshine and Movement Outdoors
This is important for our mood, especially as the weather changes. Walks are so good for digestion and stress management as it gets things moving and relaxes the body being in nature and disconnecting from screens. It can sometimes be overwhelming to keep up with all of the holiday plans and constantly being surrounded by people, so be sure to get some fresh air and quiet time to yourself. A little time outside can do wonders for your health - and it’s free!
Make Your Own Homemade Treats
Using quality ingredients is a great way to make the treats you love, but choosing ingredients that taste good and nourish the body means you will feel good too.
Use ingredients such as:
- Grass-fed butter
- Organic cane sugar
- Maple syrup
Try to avoid ingredients such as:
- Canola oil
- Vegetable oil
- Color dyes
- High-fructose corn syrup
Homemade is always best anyways!
Tip: if you don’t have time to bake your own treats, find a local bakery! They tend to use simple ingredients unlike the prepackaged desserts found in big chain stores.
I hope these tips give you some guidance so you can feel your best and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones while also supporting your hormones and cycle.
Gabby Borgerink is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner who works with women to educate about hormones and how they can support their body through nutrition and lifestyle. After her experience coming off hormonal contraception and trying both conventional and alternative health care, Gabby believes in the power of listening to your body and getting to the root cause of your health problems through a holistic approach. Her goal is for women to take back the power of their menstrual cycle and support them in balancing their hormones from a bio-individual approach. Visit her website or find her on Instagram to connect and learn more.