The foods listed below are foods that you should remove from your diet bring hormones into balance and control cravings.
Refined carbs (white starches) raise cortisol, the main stress hormone. What does high cortisol mean? A slower metabolism, a messed-up sleep cycle, and a lagging sex drive. Try following a no-white-stuff-diet for a calmer mind and a happier body. Also, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contains mercury, which can mess up your thyroid and adrenal function significantly.
2. Sugar Substitutes
That’s right, no sugar, and no sugar substitutes either. Always stick to REAL food. Sugar substitutes mess with your body’s ability to communicate within itself. Diet drinks and aspartame lower serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter. You want serotonin: it’s responsible for improved mood, sleep, and appetite. Stevia, a naturally occurring sweetener, is your best alternative.
Many adults use alcohol to relax. After all, it tastes wonderful and gives our bodies the sugar it has been craving. But a nightly glass of wine (or three) may be doing more harm than good. Alcohol consumption has been linked to anxiety, irritability, sleep disturbances and headaches. More than 3- 6 servings a week raises bad estrogens (link to breast cancer) and slows metabolism. It also raises cortisol in men for up to 24 hours! Stick to three glasses a week or fewer to keep your cortisol in check. Ditch the vino and say goodbye to belly fat, mood swings, headaches, and stress!
GF, or “gluten-free” foods are starting to crop up everywhere. Don’t dismiss this as another crazy diet fad; GF has some serious scientific backing. Eliminating gluten can help your thyroid function. You have a lot of delicious options, but the idea is to shift to whole, unprocessed foods such as fruits and vegetables with lean protein at each meal, and gluten-free carbohydrates, such as brown rice or quinoa in moderation.
If cutting out gluten makes you feel fabulous then you may have gluten sensitivity or intolerance. Consider getting tested to see how much gluten could be affecting your health.
Got acne or bloating? Cut out the dairy. Milk, cheese, and eggs have been shown to increase matrix metalloproteinase (MMK), which leads to higher androgens and acne. You can take antibiotics to block MMK, but I suggest removing dairy for six weeks to see if it helps your symptoms.
Did you know that drinking caffeine, even a small amount, like a single soda or a coffee can increase cortisol levels in your body and increase insulin resistance? Caffeine intake also lowers progesterone in women, leading to painful periods. I know some of you think you need caffeine to get through your day (I used to think so too), but consider at least reducing your dose. There is a generous middle ground when it comes to your morning cup. If you suffer from insomnia, anxiety, or bruxism, which is clenching or grinding your teeth at night, I suggest you wean yourself off caffeine. If those aren’t a problem, challenge yourself to find the lowest amount of caffeine that will help your productivity without harming your health
7. Processed Foods
Cutting processed food can be difficult since it seems to be everywhere. No more Cheez wiz, Oreos, Pringles, or Eggo’s. As much as you can, stick to whole, unprocessed foods. Not only are they more nutrient dense but also the extra fiber and water content will keep your metabolism humming and keep you feeling full longer. When you’re at the grocery store ask yourself, “Would my great-grandmother have eaten this? Would she even know what it is?” This will help you shift to nutrient rich foods such as spinach and kale, instead of rich, sugary, and calorie-dense foods like ice cream.
8. Liquid Calories
It’s easy: always chew your calories. A lot of the liquids we consume have hidden calories, and not very healthy ones at that. A pumpkin latte from Starbucks clocks in at a whopping 380 calories, 13g of fat and 49g of sugar, and that is without the whipped cream! The same goes for fruit juice. Whether it’s a juice box for your child or a ‘health’ smoothie from the organic aisle, it’s all sugar. Juice has a high glycemic index and causes a spike in blood sugar, which makes weight loss and maintenance difficult.
Also, be wary of condiments. Store-bought or restaurant salad dressings, ketchup, mayo and other toppings may be sneaking in carbs and calories you don’t want. Read the ingredient list or get them on the side if you’re are dining out.
It’s not that meat is bad for you, it’s that too much meat is bad for you. A diet high in conventionally raised red meat can lead to estrogen overload. This is either because of hormones in the meat or from the type of bacteria that thrives in the gut of people who eat a lot of meat. The “wrong” bacteria (the kind that does not metabolize estrogen) are predominant in people who consume large amounts of meat and refined carbohydrates. That said, I love the hunter and gatherer diet, often modified a bit depending on the patient. Even though it is protein heavy, it puts an emphasis on healthy meats and dairy that lack synthetic hormones and antibiotics and it also emphasizes nuts and fresh low-glycemic fruits and vegetables.
10. The Dirty Dozen: The Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables
Conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are often marketed as health food, but some come carrying toxic pesticides. Try to buy organic versions of the following produce when you can, or grow them!
- Sweet Bell Peppers
- Grapes (Imported)
Listed below are the 12 least contaminated produce. Things with a skin you can easily peel away are usually safe.
- Sweet Corn (Frozen)
- Sweet Peas (Frozen)
- Kiwi Fruit
Adapted and modified from Dr. Gottfried’s “Hormone Cures”.