What does it mean when we say it is important to "balance hormones in the kitchen?" Almost everyone has hormone imbalances, and it is important to understand what is going on in your home, mind, and body in an effort to better your health. In this 2 part guide, we will discuss stress and balancing blood sugars in the kitchen.
What Are Hormones?
What exactly are hormones? Hormones are chemicals in our body that control many functions such as energy levels, sleep, temperature, stress, hunger, emotions reproduction, aging, and blood sugar. All of our hormones are connected, so they risk getting out of balance.
What Are "Balanced Hormones?"
"Balanced hormones" are hormones that are functioning well and working together to aid a person as she moves through life.
Attributes of a woman with balanced hormones:
energetic without aid
she falls asleep quickly, stays asleep, and wakes refreshed.
she maintains a healthy desired weight
her hair and skin are healthy
she is emotionally balanced and responds to stress well
if menstruating, her menses come and go with no or little PMS
she has a healthy sex life
in child-rearing years would be able to maintain a full-term pregnancy, and when entering peri- or menopause, she slides into a new phase of life with ease
The foundation of excellent hormonal balance:
digestion and gut health
What Can Cause Hormone Imbalance?
Cortisol is known as the "Stress Hormone." Cortisol is secreted by our adrenal glands and is suitable in small doses to help fight infection, stay alert, etc. Elevated cortisol can wear out our adrenals and cause many unpleasant and even dangerous symptoms.
What are some signs and symptoms of high cortisol?
a flushed face
high blood pressure
more prone to infections
Remember, you can, and should get tested if you are experiencing these symptoms.
The Kitchen & Stress
If you do not have systems in place that work for your family, meal planning and organizing can cause more damage and stress to your health than anything else.
I want you to ask yourself these kitchen stress-related questions:
How often do you get stressed because you don't know what you will have for dinner?
Because you have not planned, you decide to pick something up to eat?
Do you feel guilty because you are not eating or feeding your family a balanced healthy meal?
Does the thought of meal prep add stress to your life?
Now that you have responded truthfully, let's stop and think about the active, simple steps we can do to balance your hormones while seeking peace in the kitchen.
Balancing Cortisol Hormones
There are many ways you can start to achieve balanced, cohesive, healthy cortisol hormones. The first step is to cook balanced, regular meals. A little bit of meal mapping can go a long way. Know what you are going to make and then make it. Don't leave room for "I don't want to." Make it happen and make it feel positive while you are in your kitchen. Remember why you are cooking: to feed yourself and your family the best food possible.
Focus on developing a healthy relationship to food - stress eating, restrictive eating, and the enormous guilt around food's dos and don'ts. Anxiety & stress eating what you think are "unhealthy foods" leads to poor digestion and increased cortisol levels. Sometimes the focus around foods is more damaging than the food itself. Avoid logging all good intake as this can lead to stress. Trying to digest all the information about healthy eating can be overwhelming. Go slow and eat intuitively.
Research has shown that intuitive eating aids in decreasing blood sugar levels and reducing stress. Food freedom is making conscious choices about your food and enjoying every bite. It is possible to have peace with food while maintaining a healthy weight.
To manage my stress, I stick to a routine. I practice journaling, yoga (my personal favorite!), therapy, and deep breathing. Managing stress at the root is very important, and it is also very individual. Try different techniques and see what works for you.
Tools for stress management:
get adequate sleep: getting 7-8 hours of regular sleep/night
electronic curfews: end all screen time at least one hour before bed.
"earthing:" develop a ritual of walking barefoot on the earth or even lying down in the grass (you can also purchase earthing sheets or mats)
mindfulness meditation: sit quietly for 10 minutes, daily
hydration: dehydration can also lead to elevated cortisol levels
practice saying "no" or "not now:" learn how to prioritize and create healthy boundaries
take a pause: pausing even a few moments (especially before making decisions) can make a big difference
ask for help: perfectionism can be addictive and is draining and inefficient in the long run
exercise: find out what works for you and move your body (I recommend HITT exercises and yoga)
social interactions: spending time with friends in a social environment can help to reduce stress on the brain
eat well: consume a variety of whole foods, including:
probiotic sources: kimchi, kefir, yogurt, sourdough bread, kombucha, sauerkraut, anything fermented!
prebiotic sources: unripened bananas, artichoke, leeks, garlic, chicory root, etc.
Controlling Blood Sugar/Insulin
What is Insulin? What is Insulin Resistance? The pancreas secretes the hormone insulin in response to any carbohydrate we consume. Insulin's role is to take the glucose into the cells as energy. When insulin gets off balance, it can cause insulin resistance. Insulin becomes terrible at its job leading to high and low blood sugars.
Type 1 Diabetes
The pancreas cannot secrete ANY insulin and must rely on insulin meds.
Type 2 Diabetes
Insulin resistance occurs, and insulin has a more challenging time doing its job.
Blood sugar control is essential for:
maintaining a healthy weight
You are balancing blood sugar if:
you are eating enough AND not overeating
you are eating good quality whole foods
Taking Control Can Be Simple
If you are ready to learn how to balance your hormones and better your life, you have plenty of options. I want to make sure you have the support you need to succeed.
The Kitchen Therapy Community: Hormone Health Classes
Each month I offer focused coaching classes to my Kitchen Therapy Community, specifically centered around hormones. Each month we discuss a different hormone topic. Last month (February 2022) our focused coaching class topic was stress and blood sugars. This month, we continue the discussion! I will be cooking "hormone nourish bowls" (a delicious, hormone-healthy recipe), discussing seed rotation, and making some hormone-balanced crackers to enjoy/snack on.
Click here to sign up!
First-time attendees may try a class for free. Otherwise, join our Kitchen Therapy Community for access to all classes and resources by clicking here.
Intuitive Eating & You
Learn more about eating intuitively. Attend my upcoming wellness workshop:
If you need guidance in the kitchen, please don't hesitate to reach out.
I would love to talk with you and find out how I can support you.
Brandy Lane Hickman, NBHWC
2B Well Integrative Health Collaborative, Owner Inspired Nutrition, National Board Certified Health Coach, Kitchen Therapy
Board President, Missouri Nutrition Alliance Non-Profit