We all have hormones, like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, and they play a huge role in our overall health. Hormone balance is chemical messengers that are released by a number of glands and organs in the body, including the ovaries and testicles, adrenals, thyroid, pituitary, and pancreas. These hormones send messages to different systems in the body that control our metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, mood and so much more. Like most systems in the body, the endocrine system works to maintain tight control over the levels of hormones being released. Unfortunately, a slight imbalance in certain hormones can lead to widespread health concerns.
Some common signs & symptoms of a hormonal imbalance include:
- Irregular periods
- Skin issues
- Unexplained weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
- Low libido
- Changes in appetite
- Digestive issues
- Hair loss
If you experience any of these symptoms, addressing your hormone balance will be key to reclaiming your health. However, instead of masking your symptoms by using synthetic hormone balance to regulate your cycle or help with your acne, there are ways to support the body’s innate ability to heal and it starts with the right nutrition.
Food: Providing the Building Blocks
Eat the Rainbow
Fruits & vegetables (and I emphasize vegetables!) are a powerful food group that provides the body with potent antioxidants, fibre, and a vast array of micronutrients that are required for healthy hormone balance production and metabolism.
My favourite fruits and veggies: broccoli, Brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, kale, dark berries, spinach, beets, pomegranate, and the list goes on.
Fibre promotes regular bowel movements which are very important when dealing with hormone balance, especially estrogen, as we eliminate excess estrogen through our poop! If we do not have a bowel movement regularly, estrogen metabolites can sit in the gut and become reabsorbed altering this balance. This becomes especially important if you are suffering from symptoms like PMS, acne, breast tenderness, or irritability.
My favourite high-fibre foods: ground flaxseed, chia seeds, psyllium husks, fruits & veggies, beans, and legumes.
Complex, High-Quality Protein
Protein provides key building blocks (aka. amino acids) used by the endocrine system to produce hormone balance. Therefore, protein also helps keep your blood sugar levels stable, so you don’t get a huge spike in insulin, which has many downstream effects on our other hormone balance.
My favourite protein sources: eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, free-range and organic poultry, grass-fed beef, cold-water fish, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Fat is the most important element for hormonal balance since hormones are created from cholesterol and fatty acids. However, all fats are not created equally, so beware! Stay clear of trans fats, eat lots of omega-3’s and reduce your intake of saturated fats.
Fun fact: On average, women need to have at least 17% body fat to maintain a regular cycle.
My favourite healthy fats: avocados, coconut oil, egg yolks, wild-caught fish, walnuts, seeds (pumpkin, flax, hemp, chia), and grass-fed butter.
3-DAY HORMONE BALANCING MEAL PLAN
Need some inspiration for breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Here is a sample 3-day meal plan full of whole, nutritious, and hormone balancing foods. Enjoy!
Breakfast: Zucchini & Sweet Potato Frittata (Serves 4)
- 2 tbsp grass-fed butter or coconut oil
- 8 eggs
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut in slices
- 2 zucchinis, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and sweet potato slices and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and red bell pepper slices and cook for another 4 minutes. While it cooks, whisk the eggs in a bowl, making sure to incorporate a lot of air in the mixture. Season with salt and pepper and add to the cooking veggies. Cook on low heat until just set, about 10 minutes. Finish the frittata until golden under a heated broiler. Cut the finished frittata into wedges and serve with fresh parsley
Lunch: Alaskan Salmon Salad (Serves 2)
- 1 cup black quinoa
- 1 can Alaskan Pink Salmon, drained
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1 cayenne chili, minced
- 4 cups spinach
- juice from 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tbsp avocado oil or other cooking oil
- pinch of coarse salt
- pinch of freshly ground pepper
Cook the quinoa as directed on the package. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cayenne chili, and sauté until softened and starting to brown, about 6 minutes. Add onion mixture to the pot with the quinoa, along with the salmon and spinach. Toss to combine. Give a good pinch of salt and pepper to the mix. Spritz with lemon and enjoy!
Dinner: Burgers & Rainbows (Makes 3 burgers)
- 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
- 1/4 medium red onion, minced
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Sliced red onions
- Sliced tomato
- 1 avocado, smashed with fork
- Romaine hearts
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 1 inch chunks
- 4 carrots cut into ½ inch thick coins
- 2 yellow squash cut into ½ inch thick half circles
- 1 pound broccoli, trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 red onion, trimmed and cut into ½ inch thick wedges
- 1/2tsp sea salt
- 1/4tsp black pepper
- 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400F. In a medium mixing bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the burgers without overworking the meat. Divide meat into 3 equal portions and form into ½-inch thick patties. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the center of each burger. Set aside.
In one large bowl add 1/2 tablespoon of oil and gently toss onions, then place onto a tray. Do the same for every veggie except the broccoli when you use a full tablespoon. Arrange them in a single layer onto your cookie sheet in the order of the rainbow: red bell pepper, carrots, yellow squash, broccoli, and red onion. Sprinkle on salt and black pepper. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until they're just starting to brown and the carrots are fork-tender.
While vegetables are baking, preheat a grill to medium-high heat, or a frying pan. Once the grill/pan is hot, place the burgers on the grill/pan and close the lid/cover. Cook 6-8 minutes, flipping occasionally. To assemble, place each burger on a bed of lettuce and top with sliced red onions, tomato, and smashed avocado. Have a mix of veggies on the side!
Snack: Mid-Day Energy Bombs (2 bombs = 1 Serving)
- 1 cup medjool dates, pitted
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for rolling
- 5 tsp vanilla
- 1 tbsp water
Add all ingredients to a food processor and combine on medium or high speed for 2-3 minutes. The mixture will be crumbly at first but it will slowly start to form together. Stop the mixer when it's sticky enough to roll into balls. Don't overdo it!
Roll into 14 tablespoon-size balls. Roll each one in shredded coconut as you go. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
Breakfast: Energizing Green Smoothie (Serves 1)
- 1 cup packed kale leaves, stems removed
- 1 cup packed spinach leaves
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 green apple, cored and diced
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 1 cup coconut water
- 5 mint leaves
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts
- 3 ice cubes
Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.
Lunch: Cauliflower Chowder (Serves 4)
- 1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 4 cups organic chicken stock
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1¼ tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- fresh dill, to taste (optional)
- Coconut oil or grass-fed butter for cooking
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
Melt coconut oil/butter in a large saucepan placed over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender (about 5 minutes). Stir in the cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add in the chicken stock, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and coconut milk, and stir together. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat and let simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Season to taste and serve garnished with fresh dill
Dinner: Mexican Inspired Chicken & Rice Bowls (Serves 4)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 organic chicken breasts, diced
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 cup non-GMO corn
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 small red onions, sliced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 3/4 cup sugar-free salsa
- 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup feta cheese, divided (optional)
In a large frying pan, heat coconut oil over med-high heat. Put chicken and stir fry for 2 min, adding salt to season. Add chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, then toss to coat and continue cooking another 3-4 min. Put red onion, corn, and bell peppers, sautéing for 3-4 min. Add cooked brown rice and salsa, tossing to coat. Cook for 5 min. Mix in cilantro and remove from heat. Sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired.
- 2 hard-boiled egg
- Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Breakfast: Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats (Serves 1)
- 1/2 cup gluten-free oats (I like Bob’s Red Mill brand)
- 5 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 3/4 cup almond/cashew/coconut Milk
- 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1/3 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
- Walnuts (topping)
With a spoon, mix the oats, chia seeds, and spice in a small mason jar. Add the milk of your choice, maple syrup, and pumpkin. Put the lid on the jar and shake vigorously until well combined. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight. Top with walnuts and enjoy!
Lunch: Green-Wrapped Egg Salad (Serves 4)
- 4 cups collard greens, washed and stems cut off
- 6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
- 2 avocados
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 5 stalks green onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- sea salt & black pepper, to taste
In a mixing bowl, combine chopped eggs, avocado, lemon juice, green onions, Dijon mustard, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Mash with a fork until creamy. Wrap up in collard greens and enjoy!
Dinner: “Spaghetti” & Meatballs (Serves 2)
- 1 spaghetti squash, cut in ½ length wise with seeds removed
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 jar organic, sugar-free tomato sauce
- 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
- 1 ½ lbs. organic ground turkey
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried mint
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350F. Drizzle squash with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place squash, cut side down, onto the baking dish. Roast until tender, about 45-60 mins.
While squash is baking, combine all ingredients for meatballs. Mix with your hands until everything is well combined. Form the mixture into equally-sized meatballs. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, alongside the squash. Makes 4 servings (you can freeze leftover meatballs, or put on a salad for lunch for the next day).
Steam cauliflower in a double-boiler for 8 minutes. Warm tomato sauce on the stove.
Using a fork, scrape the flesh of spaghetti squash to create long strands. and toss with cauliflower. Cover the squash and meatballs with sauce and enjoy!
Snack: Homemade Trail mix (¼ cup = One serving)
- 1 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/2 cup unsweetened raisins
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips/chunks (I like Enjoy Life brand)
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a sealed container. Store at room temperature until ready to use. Keep in the car, at your desk, or other areas that you like to snack!
To balance hormone and delicious food,