Raise your hand if any of these apply to you recently:
- trouble sleeping
- caffeine addiction
- digestive discomfort
- suspected food intolerances
- bouts of anxiety or depression
- irregular or loss of periods
- diagnosed or suspected hormonal imbalance
- afternoon energy slump
- sugar cravings
Are you raising a hand? (I definitely am). It’s hard to know where to start when addressing every day issues like these. Doctors aren’t often a big help in diagnosing the root cause of these ailments unless one of them has appeared suddenly. But for most of us, these are things we deal with on a regular basis, without much understanding of what causes our discomfort or body imbalances.
In many cases, issues like these are caused by stress and inflammation in our bodies. Just as every cup has a limit to how many ounces of liquid it can hold, our bodies have a limit to how much stress and inflammation they can handle before things start to act up. If you suspect you have a hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity, adrenal fatigue, or that something in your diet or environment is stopping you from living your best life, here is a list of things I wholeheartedly recommend you try:
This 30 day challenge isn’t a diet but is rather a protocol outlined in the book “The Whole 30” by Melissa Hartwig Urban and Dallas Hartwig. You can complete the 30 days without reading the book but I highly recommend the book for its recipes, Q&As, and timelines.
The goal of completing a Whole 30 is to eliminate foods that cause inflammation in our bodies. It can take between two days and three weeks (!) for our bodies to fully process the food we eat. By setting aside an entire month for our bodies to reset from potential problem foods, we start to learn what is causing indigestion, headaches, lack of energy, and so much more! The insight I gained from my first round of Whole 30 was truly impactful.
I highly recommend starting your health journey with an elimination diet because food is something we need and use daily. If we can change small daily food habits, we are already on the road to improving our health.
Search “whole 30” here at WeWouldBeCharming.com for some of my favorite recipes to get you started!
Observe Your Circadian Rhythm
In our modern caffeine fueled world, we often don’t let our bodies do what they are designed to do within our circadian rhythm. Our cortisol levels naturally peak in the morning and dip lower at night, but our habits often interrupt this natural flow of stress hormone. We drink too much coffee, we snooze our alarms, we stare at light (ie screens) from the moment we wake until the time we attempt to sleep.
Try these tips for better energy and sleep maintenance:
- Allow natural light in as soon as you wake up and sit by the window or outside for part of your morning.
- If you wake up naturally before your alarm, get up and make a start to your day- take advantage of that cortisol!
- Wait to consume caffeine until an hour after waking.
- Observe your caffeine habits. (“did I need that third cup of coffee?”) Start avoiding caffeine after 2pm, or earlier if you think you might be caffeine sensitive.
- Afternoon slump? Sip an herbal tea or sparkling water. Take a short walk around the block. If you’re really struggling with fatigue, set a timer for 20 minutes and take a quick power nap!
- Distance yourself from electronics an hour before bed. If you read on a tablet or screen take advantage of the “night shift” mode.
Our sleep habits make a big impact on our physical well being and cognitive function, including our ability to handle stress (hello 2020!). If you’ve not been sleeping well AND you’ve been struggling with physical or mental goals, examining your sleep habits could make a huge difference.
Track Your Monthly Cycle
If you’re not a menstruating human, you only have one cycle: the 24 hour circadian rhythm. You can skip this point!
Everyone else: your monthly cycle is a huge part of your overall health, and unfortunately it can be one of the first things to suffer and last things to recover when we are dealing with chronic stress and inflammation. There is no way a blog or website can diagnose what your exact problem may be happening with your cycle but there are things you can do to start you on the road to discovery and health.
Track all symptoms in your calendar or in a period app. This includes acne, headaches, backaches, cramping, mood swings, and bleeding. There are great phone apps that help you track symptoms. With a few months of data you will start to notice patterns. These records are also great to bring to a doctor or endocrinologist when seeking medical help.
Take a women’s multivitamin or even a prenatal vitamin. I typically shy away from products labeled for women because I think “Pink Tax” is idiotic. However, menstruating bodies have different needs than bodies that only use 24 hour clocks. Your multivitamin needs to reflect that.
If you have the mental/emotional capacity to dive deep into hormones I highly recommend the book “Woman Code” by Alisa Vitti.
Look For Pollutants
Our world is filled with chemicals and pollutants that add to our toxic load. Start researching the ingredients in your hair products, skin products, makeup, cleaning products, and food storage. Many of these items are endocrine disrupters which means they are mimicking hormones in our bodies and limiting the natural production of needed hormones (in all kinds of bodies, not must menstruating ones!)
As you shop for personal and household items look for labels that are free from parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance, and BPA. Use an air purifier in your house. Use baking soda, vinegar, lemon and other natural cleaning solutions instead of chemical soaps and sprays. Replace plastic packaged items with paper wrapped or zero packaged items.
When our toxic load is lowered, our bodies are better equipped to handle stress, function after a bad night’s sleep, minimize seasonal allergy flare-ups, or fight against unavoidable germ exposure.
Medical Intervention and Supplements
Internet research can only tell us so much. If you believe you are suffering from a hormonal disorder (including PCOS, thyroid issues, Endometriosis, adrenal fatigue) its important to get an opinion or two from a medical professional before starting supplements or extreme life changes.
Having blood work done to check hormone and vitamin levels is an easy way to look at the source of your ailments and correct levels accordingly by using supplements or changing our diets. DON’T FORGET: supplements and vitamins cannot properly correct the damage done by eating an unbalanced diet. Vitamins from food sources are the most bioavailable nutrients we can consume.
Take seriously the advice given to you by medical professionals but also weigh it against how you’ve seen your body react to diet and life changes. YOU are the only person who knows what it’s like to live in your body, and you are the best advocate you could have. Speak up and ask for the medical help you need.
The best thing about implementing one or some of these changes is that the results are accumulative. When you start tuning in to your health, it gets easier to notice what your body is telling you. The results from one new goal or choice can positively affect the results from another change you make.
If you have any questions please drop a comment below or send me an email! I believe it is so important to talk through these issues and help each other navigate health issues.
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