Balanced Hormones in Holiday Silly Season

Balanced Hormones in Silly Season

The holiday season is a time when we are surrounded by sugar-filled treats, punch bowls, cheese boards and a nice sprinkle of family tension. 

When you’ve been keeping up with your healthy habits for a while, the arrival of the silly season can feel daunting, particularly when it comes to keeping your PMS, period pain and acne at bay.

Heading into the holiday season with a few healthy tricks up your sleeve and spending a little time planning is the best way to ensure you enjoy the celebrations without entering the new year with worsened PMS, period symptoms or skin breakouts.

Let’s dive in to the top 8 tips to keep your hormones balanced this festive season: 

1. Ditch the guilt

This Is A Time Of Year When Many People Take An All-Or-Nothing Approach:

Some of us throw in the towel because we’ve been so good all year. 

We have massive blow outs, binging on everything in sight, telling ourselves we’ll “get back on track” in the new year.

Or we’re on the other end of the spectrum: meticulously trying to maintain our healthy habits at the expense of enjoying the celebrations and feeling like the ‘boring one’ at the party.

I want to offer you a third alternative:

I encourage you to ditch the gilt and find a happy medium between the two extreme approaches.

One where you mindfully enjoy your favourite foods and a few drinks.

You choose foods that you love, eat slowly and enjoy every bite. 

You don’t allow those feelings of guilt to creep in or thoughts that you have “derailed” your success.

When you do over-indulge, you remember that one single meal, day or even week of eating is not going to ruin your success. 

You remind yourself that stressing about unhealthy choices can often cause more hormonal havoc than just eating the food and moving on. 

2. Make time for movement

When your days are filled with social events, preparing food, dealing with relatives and travel, exercise is often one of the last things on your mind. 

Instead of trying to follow your regular routine, opt for manageable movement like a 15-20 minute walk around the block, 3 times per week (great to do when you are digesting that festive lunch!)

Remove your expectations that you will keep up with your regular routine, and make a compromise that is realistic given the time of year. 

Remember that any movement is better than none when it comes to your hormones.

Moving your body in a way that feels good to you is a great way to naturally reduce PMS, support digestion and keep your cortisol levels in check. 

Get creative: take a walk around the airport if you are travelling, find some stairs to walk up and down or drag a relative out for a walk with you. 

3. Space out your drinks

As much as most of us don’t like to hear it, alcohol and your hormones are not great friends. 

Even just one drink daily can increase our circulating estrogen levels (not good news if you suffer from PMS, period pain, breast tenderness or mood swings!).

Avoiding alcohol altogether is usually unachievable for most of us during the silly season, so if you want to drink, try spacing out your drinks over the night. 

Aim to have a glass of water between each drink, and sip mindfully and slowly.

If you know excess drinking is an issue for you, set yourself a goal for each event you attend e.g. 3 drinks over the night. 

Always have a snack or meal with your alcohol to slow the rate of absorption and lessen the effect on your gut lining. 

4. Support your liver to handle excess alcohol and sugar intake 

Let’s get real: most of us are going to consume excess alcohol and sugar over the festive season. 

If you know this is likely to be a reality for you, come prepared.

Take a B-complex vitamin before you start drinking and the morning after a big night to help provide your liver with the nutrients it needs to detoxify alcohol (plus this will help to reduce your pounding headache).

At mealtimes, load up on leafy greens (like spinach, kale, rocket/arugula) as these nutritious foods also contain many nutrients that support your hard-working liver.

If you can, cut back on caffeine and unnecessary medications at this time, so that your liver can focus on it’s job of detoxifying alcohol and sugar.

5. Stay hydrated

Being thirsty can increase your feelings of hunger, causing you to overeat at meal times (which is extremely easy to do when you are sitting at a holiday feast table!).

Drinking alcohol (and possibly extra caffeine due to the late nights) causes your body to lose more water, increasing your hydration requirements throughout this time. 

If you live in the southern hemisphere and Christmas time means summer and high temperatures, increasing your water is going to be even more important.

As a general guide, aim for 2-3L of water daily (increased amounts for larger people or higher intensity exercise). 

Aim to drink most of your water away from meals (small sips are fine) as excess water while eating can cause issues with digestion and bloating.

6. Fill your plate with hormone-loving foods to keep your blood sugar stable

Aim to include a protein and healthy fat source with every meal. 

Think: a palm-sized portion of turkey, ham or seafood, plus a generous drizzle of olive oil on your vegetables or some avocado or nuts with your meal.

Fill half your plate with salad and leafy greens, and chose smaller portions of starchy breads, pastas and potato salads.

 This will keep your blood sugar stable, and minimise blood sugar spikes and crashes when you do enjoy a piece of Christmas cake.

When you eat this way, you can leave a little room for delicious desserts! 

7. Make time to rest 

The holiday season is often filled with excitement, catching up with family and friends and delicious food celebrations, however this increased social time can lead to rising tension and stress.

Excess cortisol (our stress hormone) causes a flow on effect to our reproductive hormones (like estrogen and progesterone), so managing cortisol is key when it comes to keeping our period symptoms in check.

Aim to schedule in some down time (ideally alone) over the holiday season so that you can recharge and arrive at the next event refreshed and relaxed.

Particularly if you are hosting events and spending large amounts of time showing up for others, it’s important to make time to give back to yourself.

Doing so means you are able to show up as the best version of yourself for everyone around you. 

Schedule in time to read a book, take a bath, do a short guided meditation or take a walk alone. Your hormones will thank you!

8. Get enough sleep

The holiday season often means late nights. 

This lack of sleep can result in a cycle of less energy to move your body, increased caffeine and alcohol intake, and worsened sleep.

If you can, aim to still sleep for your normal amount of time (ideally 7-8 hours) by moving your alarm a little later, or not setting an alarm so that you can catch up on sleep.

Women who have less than 5 hours of sleep on average have been shown to increase their production of grehlin (our “hungry hormone”) which drives overeating. 

This is the reason why when you are tired, it is so much harder to ignore that extra serving of dessert.

Getting enough sleep is also important for balancing your cortisol levels which we know has a direct impact on your delicate hormone balance and can contribute to PMS, period pain and skin breakouts. 

Whether you love the holiday season, or see it as something to endure, having a plan of attack to support your hormones is crucial to keep you feeling balanced and in control of your health. 

Don’t wait until the new year to start implementing healthy habits. 

Choose some of the tips that resonated most for you and put them in place this silly season. 

Your period will thank you!

What are your favourite ways to keep your hormones balanced? Let me know below - I’d love to hear from you.

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About The Author - Tamika Woods

Tamika Woods | PCOS Author | Nourished Natural Health
Tamika Woods, Clinical Nutritionist (B.HS; B.Ed), Bestselling Author

For a decade, Tamika battled chronic acne, irregular cycles, mood swings, hair loss, painful periods, severe digestive issues and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). You name it - she's been there!

Tam was finally able to clear her skin, regulate her cycle, be free of period pain and fall pregnant naturally with her daughter in 2020. It took Tam 10 years and tens of thousands of dollars in tertiary education to get the answers she needed to get better.

She didn’t want other women to suffer as long as she did which is why she has dedicated her life to helping women in the same position as she was.

Tam helps women interpret what their bodies are trying to communicate through frustrating symptoms, and then develop a step-by-step roadmap to find balance again. She's here to help you get on track!

Tamika Woods is the author of the Amazon best seller PCOS Repair Protocol. She holds a Bachelor of Health Science degree (Nutritional Medicine) as well as a Bachelor of Education, graduating with Honours in both.

She is a certified Fertility Awareness Method (FAM) Educator and a certified member of the Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA).

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