3 Ways to Balance Your Hormones with Mindful Snacking
Raise your hand if you ever learned that snacking is “bad.”
*everyone’s hands shoot up*
When things like 100-calorie packs and low-fat, low-calorie labels are stamped all over food packaging, it’s no wonder diet culture instills a deep fear of weight gain via snacking.
But weight does not equal health, and whether we classify it as a “snack” or a “meal,” one thing is true: we need to consume enough food regularly in order to be healthy.
In fact, as a period health expert and hormonal nutritionist, I know firsthand that undereating (and not eating frequently enough) is a one-way ticket to imbalanced hormones and a missing period.
On the flip side, keeping your blood sugar balanced throughout the day (with — you guessed it — healthy snacks!) is a foundational way to balance your hormones.
Tip 1: Make sure you’re getting enough to eat.
Not eating enough is a one-way ticket to missing periods.
Our bodies need a basic level of energy input in order to function properly.
When we aren’t getting enough, our survival biology kicks in, and we start shutting down non-essential processes.
And guess which process is incredibly energy-intensive and demanding?
Reproduction and pregnancy!
So when we aren’t getting enough food, our bodies see it as a signal that we’re in a period of starvation, that there aren’t enough resources, and that it should shut down reproduction so you can’t get pregnant.
Enter: missing periods.
If you’re having a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, a salad at lunch, and a light dinner, you may not be eating enough to keep your hormones happy.
But snacking is one easy way to make sure you’re getting enough throughout the day.
Tip 2: Eating regularly (including snacks) keeps your blood sugar and your hormones balanced.
If you’re struggling with intense sugar cravings, feeling hungry even after eating, feeling sleepy after meals, or hanger, you could probably use a snack.
If we’re struggling with blood sugar issues and then go a long time between our “3-square-meals” in the 16 hours we’re awake, we end up spending all day on a blood sugar rollercoaster with tall peaks and sharp drops.
Not only does this increase inflammation in our bodies, but it also causes the release of stress hormones.
Our stress hormones are made from the same basic materials as our sex hormones, and guess which one your body prioritizes? You guessed it! Stress response and survival.
But incorporating two nutrient-dense snacks between meals can help you get off that blood sugar rollercoaster and onto a more gentle wave throughout the day. This reduces both inflammation and stress hormone, helping to restore overall hormone balance and a healthy cycle.
Tip 3: Snacks are an easy way to sneak in extra nutrients and energy — if we eat mindfully.
The best thing about snacks is they’re easy — that’s the whole point of them!
When we snack mindfully on nutrient-dense foods (focusing on protein, fat, and complex carbs), it’s an easy way to sneak in extra beneficial nutrients.
For example, if you swap your afternoon chips (simple carbs) for carrots and hummus (packed with fiber and some protein), you’re getting an extra dose of vitamins and minerals.
The trick here is to eat mindfully — instead of bringing a whole container with you to your desk, portion out a serving first, and put the container away. Eat slowly, focusing on the flavors and textures and engaging your senses. When you’ve finished that, check-in with yourself. Are you really still hungry? If the answer is yes, portion out another serving! This helps you check in with your hunger cues, listen to your body, and avoid mindless bag-to-mouth eating that can often come with some unpleasant physical and emotional side effects.
The point is this: mindful snacking absolutely has a place in a healthy, hormone-balancing diet. By remembering these three tips, you can release some of the negative associations around snacking and know that you’re doing your body good.
And if you’re craving some personalized support, you can always reach out for support at Samantha@bewellandwander.com
Sam is a Nutritional Therapist and Hormonal Health Coach who specializes in using food, movement, and self-care to help women and menstruating people have better periods, and manage imbalances like PCOS. She’s a firm believer that bad periods are not a life sentence, and that just because symptoms are “common” doesn’t mean they’re “normal.” She teaches women all over the world how to understand their cycles, tap into the benefits of each changing phase, and harness their hormones for good. She helps them feel at home in their bodies (rather than confused, resentful, or frustrated) so they can spend their time on what matters. As a digital nomad, Sam works with her clients online across the world, while traveling full time.
Want to learn more about eating for hormone balance? You can find her on Instagram at @bewellandwander or email her at _Samantha@BeWellandWander.com _