The last 10 years have been pretty turbulent for me personally. I’ve been divorced, moved house 3 times (soon to be 4!), been made redundant from my corporate job, gone back to college, started a business and of course had 2 babies who are turning into pretty awesome little people!
It was also the start of my own hormone problems and a journey that I didn’t plan to take but has actually been one of the most fulfilling of my life so far. I’ve gone from being a total stress-head workaholic who’s obsessed with dieting to having a business that I love and fits around my lifestyle, an obsession with all things health and wellness and a body that I am finally comfortable in for the first time in my life.
It’s been a bumpy road and I wanted to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
1. It’s not all about the calories
The quality of the food you eat is as important as the amount you consume. By focusing on calories you can end up avoiding some of the healthiest foods, particularly those with a high fat content like avocados, nuts and seeds (which actually promote fat burning and boost your metabolism). Thinking about the quality of the foods we eat ensure that you’re getting the nutrients your body needs to thrive.
2. Stress is one of the biggest factors when it comes to health
When we think about health we usually equate it to food and exercise and of course those things are important. However stress also plays a massive part. When we are stressed our bodies release the hormones cortisol and adrenaline, which are designed to keep us safe. What they do is to block our bodies from releasing other hormones, absorbing essential nutrients and compromise our digestive health. So its important to think about lifestyle changes such as sleep and self-care when we are working on balancing our hormones for optimal health and not just diet alone.
3. Everyone has an opinion
Diet is a HUGE topic and one that people love to talk about and generally feel pretty passionately about. And therefore are usually not afraid to vocalise. When you find something that works for you, then you want to tell everyone you know, whether or not they want to listen 😉 With so much media space dedicated to health advice, it’s difficult to know what to believe but I’m a big advocate of learning to listen to your body and taking what you read with a pinch of salt.
4. Fat isn’t the enemy
Should we eat fat….or should we avoid it? There seems to be a constant battle between the new research coming out, the media and slimming clubs are telling is and what’s on the supermarket shelves. No wonder we are all so confused! The truth is somewhere in the middle. There are some fats that should be avoided (trans fats and processed ones) as they are damaging to your body. Then there are the essential ones which support your cells in so many processes in the body including fat burning and metabolism, energy production and mental clarity.
5. Mindset is so important in making diet changes
“Whether you tell yourself you can, or you tell yourself you can’t, you are probably right”
I love this saying as it’s a reminder of how powerful your mindset and belief in yourself is when it comes to making changes. For years I told myself it was too hard and that things don’t work for me or I have no willpower. The truth was I was sabotaging myself with those thoughts. Working on my mindset around food alongside my dietary changes was integral to me making the long term changes I needed, along with getting accountability and support from others along the way.
6. Root Cause and Not Symptom Management
Healthcare in the western world has been symptom management based for a long time, but when it comes to underlying issues and improving your health in the long term, what’s important to look at is the root cause. Functional medicine looks at the effect of an individual’s genes, environment, and lifestyle, so you can correct or eliminate root causes, and not just address the obvious symptoms.
7. Medication is not (the only) answer
You go to your doctor, they diagnose you and you’re given some pills to go away and solve the problem. If only it was that simple! I know from past experiences that you don’t always get the answers you need and with the side effects of alot of medications looking at diet and lifestyle first and medication as a secondary option (IMO)should be the basis of our healthcare system.
8. There is no one size fits all approach
We are all individuals and when it comes to nutrition we all have very different needs, and we should recognise our bio-individuality. A healthy diet for one person may not be healthy for someone else. Food intolerances, gut health, metabolism and our hormones all play a part in our nutritional make-up. Our bodies respond differently to foods and we need to learn to listen to our bodies and find the approach that works for us.
The lessons I’ve learned over the last 10 years inform not only the personal choices I make around food but also the advice I give to my clients and the support I can give them in making the changes they desire. If you are looking for individualised support in changing your diet, then book one of my Heal Your Hormones Calls to discuss your specific needs.