Dietary Approaches to Balancing Your Hormones

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld

1. Include Healthy Fats

Fat and cholesterol provide the precursors to our sex hormones. Ensuring you get enough healthy fats in your diet is critical to hormone balance. Healthy fats help to decrease inflammation in the body, help to maintain a healthy body weight and

Healthy Fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, fish, nuts and seeds

How to do it:

  • Include 2tbsp of ground flax seed in your diet each day – you can sprinkle it on top of oatmeal, or in a smoothie. Flax seeds provide a good source of anti-inflammatory fats, aid with digestion and also help to balance estrogen levels in the body.
  • Cook with coconut oil – it has a high melting point and provides a good source of medium chain triglycerides – important for brain health and development as well as weight loss.
  • Drizzle olive oil over roasted vegetables and salads.
  • Try to consume fish 2-3 times per week. Smaller fish will accumulate less mercury, for example: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, clam, crab (domestic), crawfish/crayfish, croaker (Atlantic), flounder, haddock (Atlantic), herring, mackerel, oyster, perch (ocean), salmon (fresh, canned), sardines, scallop, shrimp, sole (Pacific), squid (Calamari), tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish
  • Use nuts and seeds as a snack. Chia seeds can be made into a pudding and eaten as a nice breakfast, or snack. Homemade trail mix with a mixture of walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts and cashews are a good mid-day snack to be eaten in moderation.


2.  Increase your Veg!

Eat all the colours of the rainbow to ensure you are getting the phytonutrients your body needs. Aim for 1 cup of each colour every day: blue, red, green, yellow/orange and white.

The cruciferous vegetables are especially beneficial for helping with estrogen balance and detoxification. These include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, rutabaga, turnips, bok choy, and chinese cabbage. Arugula, horse radish, radish, wasabi, and watercress are also cruciferous vegetables.

Eating more colourful vegetables also helps to maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight can increase estrogen dominance in the body, and disrupt hormonal balance. Veggies also pack a hefty punch of dietary fiber, which helps maintain regularity, and also ensures that excess estrogens are being excreted.

How to do it:

  • Make ½ your plate veggies – lightly steaming or cooking your vegetables makes them more digestible.
  • If you enjoy a morning smoothie, fill up your blender with a mixture of vegetables: leafy greens, avocado, celery, beets and more.
  • When you make pasta sauces or stir fries, make the bulk of the sauce from vegetables, with some additional protein and fats.

3. Pack on the Protein

Proteins form the building blocks of our cells, and are important for creating hormones, maintaining a healthy immune system, achieving an ideal body composition and much more. Proteins (especially when combined with healthy fats and fiber) help to balance our blood sugar levels, which can be extremely important for reproductive health and ovulation.

How to do it:

  • Choose organic meat when possible to decrease the amount of exogenous hormones in our food.  Ensure a palm-sized amount of protein at all your meals.
  • Choose smaller fish (listed above), which contain fewer heavy metals and toxins.
  • When selecting red meat, opt for grass fed meat. The cuts from grass fed animals are less inflammatory and contain more healthy fats than traditional grain fed meats. These animals also generally come from more humane farms.
  • Choose free-run organic eggs to ensure you are getting the highest quality eggs from chickens that are not confined to small cages.
  • Vegetarian sources of protein are also a great choice, and high in additional fiber. Lentils, beans, peas and quinoa are some great options. If you find you have difficulty digesting beans or lentils, you can try soaking them overnight before eating to break down some of the hard to digest fibers. Rinsing quinoa thoroughly just before cooking will also help make it more digestible.

Foods to Avoid/Minimize:

1. Dairy

In addition to being a common allergen, dairy foods tend to upset our hormonal balance. Dairy has been associated with increased hormonal acne, more PMS and menstrual cramps and increased inflammation in the body.

2. Added Sugar

Sugar is the most inflammatory substance we can consume. It disrupts our blood sugar balance and contributes to systemic inflammation. This can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle, mood, energy levels and immune system. Sugars are addictive, unfortunately. The more we have, the more we want. So keep your sweets to a minimum, and enjoy fresh fruit to satisfy your sweet cravings.

3. Caffeine

Caffeine can place an extra burden on the liver’s detoxification process and interfere with Caffeine should be limited to no more than 200mg in pregnancy – this is the equivalent of a “short” drip coffee from Starbucks. Better yet, switch to decaffeinated coffee or green tea, or herbal teas to help with energy levels, mood and hormone balance.

4. Alcohol

Alcoholic drinks can pack on the pounds and disturb your sleep, contributing to hormonal imbalance. Alcohol also places additional stress on the liver, making it work harder to process and break down hormones. Keep alcoholic drinks to 1/day for women, and none during pregnancy.

5. Processed Foods

Processed foods are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, leading to blood sugar imbalances, digestive disturbances and weight gain. Processed foods are often high in sodium, contributing to high blood pressure and water retention.

Healthy Halloween Recipes

Pumpkins are not just for decorating! Pumpkins are high in antioxidants, boosting your vision, skin health and immune system. They are also an excellent source of dietary fiber and help to lower cholesterol levels and aid in weight loss.

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie

Try this delicious smoothie to ramp up your antioxidant intake, and enjoy a sweet treat with less sugar and fewer calories!

Blend ingredients in your blender:

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (Not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 cup almond milk, or coconut milk
  • 1/2 banana
  • Honey to taste (about 1tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg


Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Once you have finished carving your pumpkin, keep your seeds to make a tasty snack! Pumpkin seeds are especially high in zinc, which naturally boosts your immune system, and zinc is also really important for men’s health and testosterone levels.

  1. Clean the pumpkin seeds. To separate the seeds and the pumpkin guts, add it all to a big bowl of water, and separate with your hands.
  2. Boil pumpkin seeds for 10 minutes in salt water. Add seeds to a pot of water with 1tsp salt, allow to boil and then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. This process will increase the digestibility of the seeds, and make them more crispy. If you are short on time, or patience, this step is definitely optional.
  3. Drain the seeds and pat dry. Spread on a baking sheet.
  4. Add olive oil – amount depends on how many seeds you have, but 1tsp should be plenty. Massage the seeds and coat with oil.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and spread the seeds out as much as possible
  6. Roast seeds at 325F for 10 minutes, remove from oven and stir. Roast for another 8-10 minutes, but they will have to be watched closely to ensure they don’t burn.
  7. During the last 5 minutes in the oven, remove a few seeds to make sure they are not burning. To check: crack them open – you don’t want them to be brown. The inner seed should only have a golden tinge when they are perfectly done.
  8. Let cool and enjoy! You can have them as a snack on their own, or add them to your salads!

Questions about this article? Email Dr. Joanna at [email protected]

More of Dr. Joanna’s healthy recipes available here!

Naturopathic Smoothies!

Spinach, Pear & Ginger Smoothie

By Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

This weather definitely signals the start of Spring, which can serve as a good indication to change up our diet a little bit. According to Chinese Medicine, it is important to “eat with the seasons”. Spring represents a transition from winter foods such as stews and soups, to more summer foods such as salads and raw vegetables.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Slodownik

When the weather warms up, I transition from warm breakfasts to smoothies. Smoothies are a great way to increase your intake of fresh produce, but you have to make sure you are still enjoying a balanced meal. Many smoothie recipes are overloaded with fruits, which sets you up for a major sugar rush first thing in the morning. Instead, try this cleansing Spring smoothie, high in nutrients, protein and fiber.

Recipe Courtesy of Dr. Joanna Rosenfeld, ND

1-2 stalks of full leaf organic spinach (washed)

Handful of parsley

Juice of ½ lemon

1 organic pear

Thumb sized amount of fresh ginger – add less or more depending on your tastes!

½ tsp of sea vegetable, such as E3live (optional)

1tbsp of ground flaxseed

1 scoop of protein powder (optional)

Filtered water – to your desired consistency

Eating with Qi

By Meghan Trompetter, Rhn
Healing Chicken Broth


4 lbs organic grass fed chicken or beef necks, back, wings (or combination)

4 quarts of pure water, cold

3 celery ribs, coarsely chopped

2 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 onion, coarsely chopped with skin on

1 head of garlic

1 bouquet garni ( 4 sprigs thyme, 4 sprigs flat or curly parsley, 4 sprigs dill, and 1 bay leaf tied with kitchen string)

2 tablespoons vinegar


Recipe image 1

1. After you thoroughly clean the chicken pieces, make sure to cut the neck and wings into several parts (cut the joints of the wings to expose the collagen of the bone).

2. Place chicken pieces and vegetables in a stock pot, cover with pure cold water and vinegar. Let stand for 30 minutes.

3. Bring to a gentle boil, skim scum that rises to the surface and reduce to heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and simmer for 6-24 hours.

4. Remove from heat and immerse the bottom of pot in an ice bath until cool.

5. Remove bones and strain broth with a fine mesh colander into wide-mouth mason jars or glass containers. When cool, the stock should gel.

Recipe image 2

recipe from S. Fallon Nourishing Traditions 2001

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