Thanks to much of what we hear in the media, healthy eating has earned a reputation for being a bit extreme, and a bit confusing. When you hear the word “healthy” in connection with food it’s hard to separate the fads and extreme diets from a more practical and sustainable approach.

My approach to eating for hormone health is simply this: MAXIMISING what does you good, MINIMISING what does you harm and PRIORITISING the choices that promote health and well-being.

My definition of healthy eating is simply to focus on natural, whole foods that are full of the nutrients that feed our cells and to avoid the foods that are nothing but empty calories and which disrupt hormones and cause inflammation.

The truth is, eating well is one of the key ways to ensure that your hormones are happy.  And if your hormones are happy, you are happy.  It doesn’t have to involve any of the above—it is simply about eating in a healthy, supportive manner, so you can give your body the full range of tools and building blocks it needs.  To be honest eating well is simply about going back to a simpler, more holistic approach to food.

The following are four myths many people associate with any bid to make healthier choices. Understandably, these myths may get in the way of you making really positive choices for yourself, so it’s worth taking a closer look.

Myth # 1: Eating well means deprivation.

Eating for hormone health isn’t just about eating lettuce with a drizzle of olive oil. There are many delicious recipes that can be prepared using healthy ingredients that not only taste amazing, but nourish and detox your body as well.

The best part is, many of them don’t involve any fancy ingredients and can be prepared even by a cooking novice. In fact, participants in my Jumpstart Programmes always discover new foods and recipes that they absolutely love that have become staples in their diets long after the programme ends.

Myth #2:  You’ll struggle to overcome cravings and hunger.

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It is an unfortunate fact that the things that are the worst for us are the ones that are the most addictive.  We know that this is the case when it comes to alcohol and recreational drugs, but it is also true of the foods that we tend to crave as well – including all those sugary and starchy foods that undermine our best efforts to look after ourselves.

Overcoming addiction is never easy, but the pay-off is so great the effort has to be worth it.  The choice we have is to struggle with is this:  suffer cravings indefinitely or tackle them head on and make them a thing of the past.  If we decide on the latter course, we are back in control and able to choose foods that serve us (and not the companies that make them!)

The first three days in any change to our normal habits are the worst, but once you get through those, it’s pretty much plain sailing from then on.  One of the great benefits for people who’ve mean on my programmes before is that they have been able to overcome their cravings, sometimes for the first time in their lives.

Myth #3:  You need to do an all-liquid detox to remove toxins from your body.

Liquid-only detoxes have had more than their fair share of popularity. These types of detoxes can backfire: Not only do people often gain the weight back as soon as the detox ends, but such restrictive eating for several days can be detrimental to your hormonal health as it sets up a cascade of responses that impact our thyroid and overall metabolism.  Much better to eat a variety of whole foods that provide your liver, kidneys and digestive tract with the raw material it needs to do the de-toxing work they were designed to do.

Aside from the benefits discussed above, focusing on natural, whole foods is an incredibly effective way to identify if you have any food sensitivities, balance your hormones, and establish healthy habits for the long term.

I’ve worked with participants of my programmes who not only have lost weight and kept it off, but who have also seen their energy level skyrocket, their skin clear up and even their allergies disappear.

Myth #4: Health programmes are just a way for people to make money out of expensive supplements.

To my mind, supplements involved in any protocol should be just that, a supplementary part of the programme, not the primary source of your nutrition.  While on any of my programmes you will get all of your vitamins and minerals from whole-food sources.

Occasionally, and in specific circumstances depending on each individual, supplements may be recommended to help your body make the most of the nutrients it receives from these foods.  For example, by including probiotics in your diet, you help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals and remove toxins from the body.

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Are you ready to discover for yourself the benefits of eating for hormone health?

Feel Fab in a Fortnight starts on Monday 30th September.  Register by Sunday 22nd September to save £42.

What questions or concerns do you have about participating in a programme like this?

Before you try something new,  it’s normal to feel hesitant.  If you need any questions answered, email me at fran@franmac.co.uk. I read every email that comes into my inbox and I promise to email you back personally.

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Vladislav Muslakov

We all know that absolutely everything is easier after a good night’s sleep! Sleep is fundamental to our wellbeing, but somehow we manage to take it for granted at the same time as berating our lack of it! Often mis-understood and wildly under-rated, it is a sad thing that so many people these days are surviving on much less sleep than they actually need.  Before we look at why that should be and what’s causing the epidemic of poor sleep these days, let’s take a quick look at what sleep is, and what it is actually does.

Although it seems we do nothing when we are asleep, our bodies are actually quite busy.  While we are sleeping , our bodies and brains are restocking our supply of hormones, processing significant toxins, repairing damaged tissue, generating vital white blood cells for immunity, eliminating the effects of stress, and (importantly) processing heavy emotions. Without sufficient time to do this important work (ie 8 hours for the average adult) our systems become increasingly de-natured – our hormones become imbalanced, our immunity is suppressed, our ability to manage stress is diminished, our natural appetite and hunger levels go awry and our emotional flexibility is compromised.

Sleep itself is one of the (many) gifts of our pineal gland – a tiny, pine-cone shaped lobe in the very centre of our brains – often referred to as the ‘third eye’.  When our circadian rhythms are in sync (the natural rhythms that control our daily, weekly and monthly cycles, like tides), the pineal gland releases the hormone and neuro-transmitter, melatonin, at bed-time. Melatonin works by suppressing the activity of other neurotransmitters and helps to calm us down (primarily by countering the stress hormone cortisol which is produced by our adrenals). As we become sleepier, the brain slowly begins to turn off our voluntary skeletal muscle functions, directing energy inwards, to the important work to be done while we sleep.

For ideal sleep, our melatonin levels should be steadily rising at bed-time and our cortisol levels should be rock-bottom. And this is a system that has been devised over centuries of fairly constant night-time behaviour. Not so very many decades ago our night-time routines were very different from today.  We would be aware of the sunset and benefit from the long-wave, red light from the sun at the end of the day, our evenings would be spent mostly in the dark with firelight or candle light (again, red-light) and our activities, for the most part, would be about ‘winding-down’ – reading a book, chatting before a fireside or taking a final breath of night-air before bed-time.  These days our evening activities are very different often involving mental or physical stimulants like computer games, social networking, business emails, alcohol or the latest knife-edge TV drama – sometimes all of them at once!

What happens in this scenario is that stress, and therefore cortisol, levels go UP just before bedtime and the blue-light from so many screens pushes melatonin levels DOWN – the very opposite of what we need for a good night’s sleep.

When my clients present with sleep problems, the very first thing I do is work with them on what I call ‘sleep hygiene’ – the simple process of getting into the good habits that restore the natural circadian rhythms and allow peaceful, restful sleep. For a few people, there are specific physical imbalances or mental stressors that impact on the quality of sleep (and these should be dealt with in the context of a supported, ongoing  and holistic approach to general wellbeing). For the most part however, just about everybody could benefit from improving their bed-time routine and making space for a little bit of self-care. So, to help you get started, here is my recipe for the perfect night’s sleep:

Ingredients

One long hot bath

Two large cups Epsom Salts

A few drops of essential oil (lavender, geranium, frankincense, mandarin or clove being my favourites)

A mug of herbal tea (eg lavender, valerian, chamomile or passionflower) or a delicious Turmeric Latte

A dry body-brush

A beautiful scented candle (made from soy wax if possible).

A natural body oil such as Argan Nut Oil

A good book

Someone to hug (optional!)

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Method
  • Start your preparations early in the afternoon and avoid all caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, colas) from 3pm onwards.
  • Eat your last meal 2 -3 hours before you go to bed and try and keep your evening meal light, just veggies and protein if possible, keeping your main meal for the middle of the day (you will be surprised how much a heavy meal, last thing at night, can negatively impact your sleep).
  • No email, TV, computer games, next-day-planning, or stressful conversations in the full hour prior to bed-time
  • Light the candle, run a deep, hot bath and mix in the Epsom Salts and essential oils (Epsom Salts work brilliantly to draw out toxins and the magnesium in them is a wonderful natural soother and muscle relaxant).
  • Give yourself a gentle massage with a dry brush using long, gentle strokes, starting with your feet and legs, then hands and arms, moving towards your heart and finishing with circular, clockwise strokes around your tummy. This process massively increases lymph flow and improves night-time de-toxification
  • Soak for as long as you can in the bath to get the full benefits of the Epsom salts and essential oils (at least 20 minutes but up to 40 minutes if possible).
  • Massage a few drops of oil into your still-damp skin
  • Avoid fluoride toothpastes – fluoride is known to calcify the pineal gland
  • Relax into bed with a good book or a good lover (or both!)

Get to the root cause of your poor sleep

and book a 20 minute discovery call with Fran

Good sleep is fundamental to our overall well being. If you are struggling with chronic fatigue or any of the symptoms of poor sleep, help is at hand!  Book a 20 minute Discovery Call with Fran to learn how to get to the ‘reason-why’ behind your fatigue and pick up some sensible strategies to help you get your mojo back.

If you are suffering from chronic fatigue, feeling tired and wired, struggling to fall asleep or waking regularly in the middle of the night, these are signs that your body wants something to change.  Let me help you de-code these messages so you can make the subtle shifts your body is needing and improve the health of every cell in your body.

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