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Keto, Paleo, Low-fat... Why Diets Have It Wrong.


You have the power to impact your health and hormones by what you choose to put on your plate.

Every meal (and most of us have at least 3 a day!) is either creating health in your body, or creating disease. That's a huge influence we can have over our hormones, our mood, our energy, how we feel and show up in the world.


But with so many conflicting opinions out there, it can be hard to know what a healthy diet is anymore. Should we be eating low-carb and high-protein? Or low-fat and high-carb? Are Paleo or Keto diets the way to go?


While these diets may have certain aspects that are advisable, they also have many dangers and side effects (and often aren't tailored to, or appropriate for, women who menstruate). But perhaps their worst feature is that they're overly complicating healthy eating. For most people, a healthy diet is relatively simple, and even small changes would make a huge difference to their health and how they feel.


Here's how you can start:


1. Eat mostly plants


Focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, pulses, and wholegrains. These should make up the majority of your plate/meals. Anything else you choose to eat should be treated like a condiment, or a once-a-month special occasion.


2. Eat food in its whole form as much as possible


We want to eat food as close to its original form as possible (e.g. a whole apple, rather than apple juice). Try to avoid processed food as much as possible. Obviously there's a scale from least processed to most (or ultra) processed, and as soon as we cook food we are technically processing it, but try to stick to least processed, where possible. Flour products, for example, are highly processed (very different to the original grain) but not as processed as high fructose corn syrup, for example. To demonstrate using soy (which, in its whole form would be a soy bean) - unprocessed would be edamame (soy) beans, least processed would be tempeh (the beans just squished together in a block), more processed would be tofu or soy milk, very processed would be soy flour, and ultra processed would be soy protein isolate (anything with 'isolate' in the name is very processed - isolated from its original form). So, we would prefer to eat edamame and tempeh, try to avoid soy protein isolate, and enjoy the others in moderation.



If you don't already know how to cook or don't enjoy it - learn! Cooking is one of the most valuable skills you can learn in life, so try to find local community classes, follow along on Youtube, and experiment until you find a style, and dishes, that you enjoy. When you make things from scratch you know what's going into them, you can avoid unhealthy ingredients, and what you're making will tend to be less processed than a shop-bought alternative.


3. Eat a wide variety of different plant foods


The more plants you can eat in a week the better! Diversity of foods is so important for gut health and to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you need. You've probably heard the '5 a day' slogan - well, it's actually probably more like '7 a day', but that's deemed to be too 'off-putting' for most people. Well, I believe in giving people the information and allowing them to decide for themselves. And, often, giving ourselves a higher number to aim for actually means we end up closer to the target.


Aim for around 30 different types of fruits and veggies across the week, and make sure you're eating green leafy veg, as this is one category people often forget, but is arguably one of the most important for our health!


4. Don't skip breakfast


Skipping breakfast throws your blood sugar levels out of balance, impacting cortisol and adrenal health. If you're a woman who menstruates, and you're in the 2nd half of your cycle, then it's even more important not to skip breakfast as cortisol is naturally higher during this time. If you're postmenopausal you could experiment with fasting and skipping breakfast as long as you don't have any issues with blood sugar levels or high stress.


5. Eat low-glycemic foods


In general, choose foods that are low(er) on the Glycemic Index. This means reducing or avoiding refined carbs such as white rice, white bread, white pasta, and pastries (think donuts, pies, cookies, croissants, etc.) which act like sugar in the body and are inflammatory. Swap to low GI/less processed sweeteners such as stevia, xylitol, dates, and coconut sugar, and wholegrain (ideally fermented) versions of traditional carbs such as bread and pasta (or cut them out!).


6. Stop eating 2-3 hours before bedtime


Don't eat before bed. So many important processes happen while we sleep, but if our body is having to digest food during the night then energy and resources are diverted away from these important processes. Plus our sleep quality is likely to be impacted and we may experience acid reflux or bloating. The earlier you can have dinner the better (and don't snack after though!) but try to finish eating at least 2 (preferably 3) hours before going to bed.


7. Drink plenty of water


Most of us don't drink enough water throughout the day (I know there are days when I forget!). Dehydration can occur even at low levels and can mimic many of the symptoms of hormone imbalance so it's super important to make sure you're drinking plenty of water throughout the day (here's a great calculation for exactly how much to drink).


Don't drink water with your meals though! This will put out your digestive 'fire', so keep drinks to at least 10 minutes before or after food. Try to get most of your water intake in the first half of the day so you can function at full capacity, and stop drinking a few hours before bedtime so that you don't need to get up to pee during the night!



8. Supplement with D3, omega 3 (DHA+EPA) and B12


The best diet in the world is not enough these days to meet all our nutrient requirements.


Vitamin D comes from sunshine, not food, and is super important for hormone health so should be supplemented (there are very few parts of the world where the sun could be relied on for adequate vitamin D absorption).


EPA and DHA (two types of omega 3) are also extremely important for overall health and reducing inflammation, and only come from algae (many people mistakenly think they come from fish, but this is incorrect, it actually comes from micro-algae, the fish just eat the algae!). Because fish accumulate toxins, pollutants, heavy metals and pesticides, it's much safer and more efficient to just go straight to the source and supplement with an algae-based EPA + DHA (I'm a fan of this one).


B12 comes from bacteria in the soil (again, not inherent in meat - the animals just eat the bacteria when they eat off the earth). Since most of us don't get our hands dirty in soil or drink from streams anymore (which comes with other hazards anyway!), B12 needs to be supplemented. Meat is not a reliable source of B12 because many animals don't eat grass in a field anymore (they are often kept indoors their entire lives) so aren't exposed to the bacteria, plus any B12 that may be present in animals can be difficult for us to absorb since it's bound to proteins in the meat - hence many people (including meat-eaters) require B12 injections. Start with a good quality B12 supplement (I recommend methylcobalamin unless you're sensitive to methylated vitamins) but get your levels checked at the doctor every year to make sure you're absorbing it.


Following these 8 healthy eating principles is a great starting point for long-lasting hormone health, vitality, and longevity.


If you have a specific health concern, or you're following these guidelines but still struggling, then you might need a more complex, personalised plan of action - book in for a free discovery call so we can discuss what a healthy, sustainable way of eating would be for you.


Which of these do you already do? Which do you struggle with? Let me know in the comments below!

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