Balance Your Blood Sugar to Balance Your Hormones {Women’s Wellness GUEST Series}

Learn how to balance blood sugar with foods. Here’s the best diet for blood sugar balance. Hint: It may not be what you expect! 

Balance Blood Sugar


This post is from guest writer Lori Valentine Rose, PhD, CNP, BCHN, FDN-P, RH (AHG), NBC-HWC of Lori Rose Holistic

Are you ready to start the second step to balance your hormones, stop PMS, and get aligned with your feminine magic? Let’s get started on learning how to balance your blood sugar!

RELATED: Balance your kid’s blood sugar.

But before we get moving, there are some misconceptions that we need to erase from our minds. These ideas have been embedded into our brains for decades, so forgetting them is going to be a challenge. However, before you can successfully do this step of regulating your female hormones and aligning your life with your feminine magic, we have to use that Men in Black forgetful pen thing to help us:

  • Stop counting and cutting calories, and
  • Stop thinking whole grains are good for you.

I know what you are thinking.

WHAT DID THIS NATIONALLY BOARD-CERTIFIED NUTRITION CONSULTANT JUST SAY? Does her PhD stand for “Pretty Hilarious Dummy?” STOP cutting calories? STOP eating whole grains?

But I promise you, it’s true. These two misconceptions have to be unlearned if you want to master the art of female hormone balance.

Counting and Cutting Calories Won’t Help you Lose Weight

You see, the concept of counting and cutting calories has never been proven by science to help with weight loss or to have any other health benefit. In fact, it does quite the opposite, and is probably one of the main reasons we women are walking around with our hormones all out of whack. So I want you to start IGNORING calories. I didn’t tell you it was going to be so FUN, did I?!?!

The next thing I want you to do is let go of the idea that whole grains are a health food.

Repeat After Me: Whole Grains Can Hurt Your Hormones

The truth is, all starch, whole grain or not:

  • floods your body with glucose which
  • puts pressure on your pancreas, which
  • stresses your adrenals and thyroid (we will talk about them in the next post), and
  • then stresses your liver (step #4, coming up in two weeks).

This one fallible move of getting friendly with starch and grains can start a cascade effect of total hormone disruption that eventually leads to reproductive hormone chaos which can manifest in all of the PMS, PCOS, endometriosis, and/or infertility that we are trying to turn around.

Not to mention the anti-nutrients that are contained in all grains impede digestion, and don’t forget about the damaging effects of gluten in wheat-containing grains.

Reverse Two Weight Loss Myths to Redeem Your Hormones

  1. No cutting calories
  2. Forget the whole grains (and any other starch)
Boot Blood Sugar

What Should We Eat to Balance Blood Sugar (& Hormones)?

To make sure your blood sugar hormones are regulated, you want to:

  • Eat regular meals, including never skipping breakfast. Eat every 3.5-4 hours to avoid hypoglycemia (which also stresses your adrenals, and then your thyroid….), and eat whole, clean foods until you feel full.
  • Try to include clean protein and healthy fat with each meal (no more low-fat diets, y’all!). Healthy fat includes whole fat raw grass fed organic dairy and meat, avocado, nuts, seeds, unheated oils-olive, almond, walnut, coconut and coconut oil, olives, and nut butters with no sugar added. Adding these fats is crucial to making adrenal and reproductive hormones. Decrease anything with vegetable oil, corn oil, soy oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil in the ingredients.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables. Try to include at least one green vegetable and then 1-2 servings of veggies of another color. Aim for the colors of the rainbow in veggies each day.
  • Try to decrease all complex carbs including grains, whole grains, potatoes, starch, bread, beans, rice, and pasta. These foods flood your body with sugar and then cause a sugar crash, explaining hormone imbalance and fatigue.
    • If you do eat a complex carb, make sure it is with breakfast or lunch, not dinner, and make sure to go on a walk for the day within 1 hour of eating the complex carb (if you still believe that intense cardio is the best way to exercise, check out my blog post on the best way to move your body each day).
    • If you are craving carbs, have roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and beets, butternut squash, or spaghetti squash. Adding these last sweet veggies to breakfast and lunch meals will decrease sugar cravings (and binges!) later. Your tongue still needs that sweet flavor! I roast a huge pan of these veggies on the weekend and then grab them almost every morning for breakfast or lunch. They are amazing! (Katie’s recipe for pumpkin
      pie porridge fits the bill – no grains, carby but not starchy orange veggies.)
    • If you are used to eating starchy carbs and grains, just replace those food groups with another serving of veggies. Zucchini spirals and spaghetti squash make great vessels for sauce, eat berries as your fruit choices, and restrict fruit to 1-2 servings per day. (You won’t even feel deprived with spaghetti squash lasagna, and here’s the spiralizer I’ve heard is the best, but unfortunately not the one I just got for Christmas. –Katie)
    • Read my posts on replacing grains to learn how to choose blood-sugar supporting meals when you are eating away from home, and how to kick a sugar addiction in case you are dealing with that.
grain-free Paleo friendly pumpkin pie breakfast porridge
  • Add cinnamon to sweeter meals, and fenugreek to savory meals. These herbs are known to decrease blood sugar spikes. However, only use them DURING meals to avoid hypoglycemia in between meals.
  • Eat foods with magnesium, B6, and zinc as much as possible. These are nutrients that regulate PMS/hormones, and their deficiencies cause many of the PMS-related symptoms we experience:
    • Magnesium: spinach, swiss chard, beet greens, squash, turnip greens, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!), almonds (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!)
    • B6: tuna, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, bell peppers, turnip greens, garlic, cauliflowers, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, banana, broccoli, brussels sprouts, collard greens, beet greens, kale, carrots, swiss chard, asparagus, mustard greens
    • Foods high in Zinc: pumpkin seeds, grass fed organic beef (try ButcherBox if you don’t have a local source – free bacon!), spinach, asparagus, mushrooms
    • Note: some of those foods/nutrients are the same as you can eat to support your mitochondria and foundation of health and energy from last week’s important step! Two-fer!

Battling Sugar Cravings While Regulating Blood Sugar

One of the most important things you can do in this blood-sugar regulation process is to have a fall-back plan for when your salty-carb and sugar-carb cravings start to kick in.

  • Check out my recipe for the best kale chips ever, and this mystery recipe for grain-free seed crackers to satisfy that salty craving. Have a batch of these stored in the pantry at all times!
  • For a sugar craving,
    • try a yummy smoothie (coconut milk, ½ bag of frozen berries, and one banana),
    • eat plenty of root veggies early in the day,
    • have some 85% dark chocolate bars on hand, or
    • try herbal bitters. Research shows that our sugar cravings our actually a bitter deficiency. Arugula, bitter melon, dandelion greens, dill, kale, collards, mustard greens, endive, sesame seeds, cumin, dark chocolate, parsley, cilantro, red leaf lettuce are all examples.
  • If you are a chocolate cake lover, try this amazing recipe from my brilliant herbal teacher and mentor! Eating bitters during a sugar craving may satisfy that urge!
  • Also, adding a practitioner-grade multivitamin can take care of any micronutrient deficiencies in your diet, which can also curb sugar cravings and PMS symptoms. (I will give all KS readers a 10% discount on the ones I offer through my practice if you don’t have a local holistic nutrition consultant handy. Find instructions for ordering here.)
 

Want to download and print all our women’s health support lists?

We have printable resources for:

  • how to align with your monthly cycle
  • best foods to balance your blood sugar
  • increase energy by supporting your mitochondria and balancing your hormones
  • support your adrenals
  • how to gently detox your liver

We’ll send all these resources to you right away so you can achieve better health and well-being!

Impossible? All You Need is a Blood Sugar Plan

best high protein scrambled eggs ever

Planning to put it all together as a daily routine is an important step to bridging knowledge with actual real-life application:

  • Make breakfast for the week on one day and keep it in your fridge to reduce stress around crazy mornings.
    • Make a list on your fridge of 3-5 breakfast meals that include protein, fat, and veggies. I make organic sausage patties, bacon, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, cut up veggies, salsa, berries, breakfast quiches to just grab in the morning. If you are eating fast food for breakfast, always add veggies like tomatoes, onions, and peppers on the side.
      • 2-3 egg omelet cooked in butter, ghee, or coconut oil with 2-3 of your favorite veggies
      • Cupcake quiche: beat eggs, add chopped veggies, put in cupcake liners in a cupcake pan, cook on 250 until done, top with butter, ghee, or walnut oil (only add walnut oil after cooking is done)
      • Organic sausage or bacon, sautéed onions, garlic, bell peppers, and mushrooms on the side (or whatever your favorite veggies are)
      • Leftovers from dinner the night before (dinner meals are usually great breakfast meals)
  • Where to find blood sugar friendly dinner ideas:
    • Paleo recipes are a really great place to start. You don’t have to “go Paleo”, but they have wonderful recipes. (Katie’s pin board and grain-free site recipes)
    • Avoid recipes where they use alternative sugars, starches, and “meals” (like almond meal). These are really just carb-replacements.
    • Pick out 5-10 that you are interested in trying.
    • Use the leftovers for an energizing breakfast the next day or for a lunch a few days a week to decrease processed food consumption at lunch time.
    • A good mix-and-match meal plan would include one meat, 3 veggies (1 green veggie and 2 veggies of different colors), and healthy fats like unheated olive/walnut/almond/sesame oil, butter/ghee, coconut oil/butter/milk, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olives.
    • A cheap easy thing to do is buy ground chicken, beef, and turkey, rotating them each night by grounding them in a pan, adding the chopping veggies, then adding a cream base like coconut milk (check out this super easy homemade coconut milk recipe), sour cream, or cream cheese, and then your spices. If the meat and veggies are different each night, and the sauce rotates, you have variety, low-cost, and easiness!
  • Lunch: I usually just eat dinner left-overs for lunch. Make enough for to 2-3 meals each time you cook dinner and use the leftovers throughout the week for lunch and breakfast.
  • Make sure to take the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse to get all the help in the kitchen from your kids that you can, and to raise up your kids to be able to harness their feminine powers once they hit their reproductive years!
    • Aw, note from Katie: Lori is here because she and her girls took our course, and she’s a great cheerleader. Swear I didn’t ask her to put that plug in this post. I loved watching her girls learn skills via the photos she shared in our VIP Facebook group. They rocked it!

How to Find the “Balance” – so you Don’t Go Crazy!

That being said, let’s not kid ourselves that we can eat every meal at home. This has to be a DOABLE plan!

I know the KS readers are going to be pros at homemade, whole-food eating, but there will always be days where the best laid plans just don’t happen. Knowing what to do in those situations can help you make sure that your hormones don’t take the brunt of our crazy schedules.

Here are some ways you can eat out better when you do eat out:

  • Choose meals that do not contain complex carbs like rice, crackers, pasta, bread, or grains. Instead have protein and veggie based meals, increasing the servings of veggies as much as possible.
  • Soups are great, salads with meat and oil-based dressings are great, and if you like a meal that comes with pasta or rice on the menu, just tell them to switch the pasta/rice with veggies. They will always do it!
  • Choose grilled instead of fried, and leave out the French fries for veggie sides. Most places have apples now. Do not get fast-food yogurts because they are full of sugar.
  • Choose veggie-based bowls instead of burgers, and make sure and add protein and guacamole/other fats to every meal.
Need some help balancing your hormones so you can have glowing skin, deeper sleep, and healthy digestion? Get into this course by my friends at mindbodygreen and start your journey to balanced hormones today!

Balancing Your Hormones, One Step at a Time

Remember, don’t feel pressured to move on to the next step until you master this one.

One step that you do forever is better than fifty steps that you quit in 2 weeks. Spend as much time mastering blood sugar regulation as you need before you move on.

This isn’t a diet you want to eat just one week; you want to keep this lifestyle for optimal feminine health. So take it slow, and get it right.

Don’t forget, you have been living with these symptoms for a long time; don’t expect yourself to be perfect overnight (or ever!). Give yourself the gift of compassion, patience, and grace and know that with practice you will ROCK THIS BLOOD SUGAR BALANCING ACT!

Check out the next post in this series for how to start the next step together: balancing the adrenal and thyroid glands!

My friend Wardee over at Traditional Cooking School is offering a new resource for women’s health that you can claim for FREE.

Natural Remedies to Common Female Infections

You’ll get lots of info about the superfoods, essential oils, and simple, natural remedies that can heal urinary tract infections, bacterial vaginosis, and yeast infections… naturally!

Find all the Women’s Wellness Series posts HERE.

Lori Valentine Rose, PhD, is a college biology and nutrition instructor, board certified nutrition professional and holistic nutrition consultant, and clinical herbalist.NANP Member - Lori Rose, Women's Wellness SeriesLori Valentine Rose, PhD, CNP, BCHN, FDN-P, RH (AHG), NBC-HWC is a college biology and nutrition instructor, board certified nutrition professional and holistic nutrition consultant, clinical herbalist, wife, mother, organic vegetable, fruit, and medicinal herb gardener, school garden planter, city class teacher, and passionate Zumba dancer! She loves spreading love and light, and helping others feel awesome on the inside and out so they can live their dreams and make this world more awesome! Lori Rose Holistic does not replace medical advice or working with your doctor, and she does not diagnose, treat, or cure disease. Her goal is to educate, and any actions you take are voluntary and of your own free will. Check out her blog or follow her on Facebook to learn more about holistic ways to support your body’s healing from chronic health issues! You can also take her FREE Simple Healthy Choices Course to learn simple steps that have a huge impact on your health!

LET’S GET YOU FEELING AWESOME SO YOU CAN DO AWESOME!!!

NANP Member - Lori Rose, Women's Wellness Series

19 thoughts on “Balance Your Blood Sugar to Balance Your Hormones {Women’s Wellness GUEST Series}”

  1. I just have a question regarding using almond meal/flour or coconut flour. My understanding is that they are low in carbohydrate therefore acceptable replacement for bread, pizza etc I have been avoiding all the other ‘gluten free’ flours such as tapioca, potato, rice starches etc. If almond or coconut flours are not acceptable do you have any other suggestions that won’t spike sugar levels?

    1. This is a good question, Dee – I was under the impression that almond flour and coconut flour should be super low carb too, but I missed that when I was editing this post. I’ll ask Lori to pop over with an answer, thanks for asking! 🙂 Katie

      1. Lori Rose Holistic

        Yeah, I can see how that is a little confusing. So, almond flour and coconut flour are lower in carbs, and therefore absolutely the better choice. The problem happens when we start eating A LOT of these low-carb desserts thinking they are healthy….then even these small amounts of carbs add up. So, for the occasional treat, yes, use those alternative flours. Just make sure to not be fooled by the “low-carb” words and think it means “all-the-time-food”. They are still sometimes-foods. =)

  2. This seems hard. Like, earth-shatteringly hard; so difficult I can’t possibly do it. I find if I don’t eat some starch at every meal, I get really hungry again within an hour, and if I eat a lot of meat and fats (even healthy ones) without starches to balance them, I feel heavy and my stomach hurts (yes, even when eating a lot of veggies). I also struggle with cooking every day just customizing lunches for my family and making one breakfast and one dinner. A meal plan like this would mean a lot of extra work because there’s no way my kids are giving up carbs or eating more veggies.

    Grouchy, hungry mama plus grouchy picky kids sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

    Is it really just me? I *LOVE* the idea of balancing out my hormones and my sugar crashes with a better food plan, but I’m starting to despair of the idea of actually doing it. It’s just too hard.

    1. Hey Anitra,
      I’m right there with you! Sometimes I feel like it’s all I can do to get a meal that’s not totally crud on the table for my family. But baby steps can help too!!

      I’ll ask Lori to come over and answer as well, but my tip is just to give yourself grace and go with “less” instead of “none.” Lori said to try to put starches at breakfast and lunch and get moving an hour later, which sounds easier than “no carbs ever.” I agree that many women (especially) say that they don’t feel well on a no-carb diet, understandably so. Reducing them and working on earlier in the day might be more doable. Make those grain-free pumpkin pancakes for dinner and you won’t miss the grains!

      Better to take one step than worry about taking 100 and sit still…

      Hugs!
      Katie

    2. Lori Rose Holistic

      If you have trouble digesting fats and meats, try adding bitters before your meals. You might be low on HCl, bile, and digestive enzymes. You need to eat fat to create bile, and you need to be able to digest that fat. Foods high in potassium are also required to make HCl, so I recommend adding those and adding a bitter before each meal.

      And yeah, it’s not about no starch…it’s about changing the sources of starch to root veggies. But those root veggies don’t make you full…protein and fat cause the hormones that make you full…so we have to get that digestion under control.

      And absolutely do baby steps. Just pick one thing. And I would advise ADDING things in before TAKING things away. Let the kids pick their favorite 3 fruit or veggies to have on hand as snacks and add those. Then, once you see that there are other options that make you happy, letting go of those other not-so-great options won’t be as hard.

      I certainly do not recommend making lots of different meals for lots of different people. No one can keep up with those demands. Involving kids in meal planning and choosing the foods in the house can really increase participation at meals.

  3. This is a great article series, thank you! I am getting ready to teach a “healthy eating class” at my church next week, and now I have a few great tips to add to my (every growing) syllabus. It’s for my women’s ministry, so I will definitely be referring them to this article series, too!

      1. Thank you! The class is tonight…I included a link to your website, plus a second link specifically to this post in the handout that I created for them. So I’ll make sure to mention they can also get a printable here! 🙂

  4. Ive thot about trying out my apple peeler corer slicer to make zoodles, but its in my storage unit n i can not find it near the front anyway. Sigh. Classic me. Its exactly the kitchen attachment mentioned, just hand crank!

  5. Yes! I”m wondering about sprouted/soaked grains, too.

    Also, my daughter is a vegetarian and it’s hard to fill her up with no meat and (now^), no beans. Any ideas for what might be best to feed her for dinner would be great. She does eat a lot of lentils and quinoa but one can get bored with the same stuff over and over.

    Thanks for all your great posts, Katie!

    1. Lori Rose Holistic

      Does your daughter have blood sugar issues? If not, then it might not be that big of a deal that she eats soaked grains and beans. Also, pastured dairy and eggs are an excellent sources of protein if she does have blood sugar issues. =)

        1. Lori Rose Holistic

          Does she have weight issues? Does she get “hangry”? Does she crave sugar? Does she have any PMS symptoms? Depression? Anxiety?

          1. Oh my goodness, yes! Not all the things you listed but she is very emotional pre-menstrually. And she definitely has a complicated relationship with sugar. So I assume this means yes, she has blood sugar issues? 🙂

            She does eat pastured dairy and eggs but, again, variety is hard to find. Are legumes ok? (ie: lentils) I’m at a bit of a loss these days.

            1. Lori Rose Holistic

              Hi Andrea,

              So yeah, if she is showing signs of blood sugar issues I would start with step 1 of this hormone balance protocol and focus strongly on blood sugar regulation. Lentils have less glycemic load than other grains/legumes, but without working with someone one on one it’s hard for me to say what is “ok” and what is not “ok”. Everyone is different. However, I recommend getting nutrient-dense meals with protein (eggs), healthy fats, and lots of veggies each morning and afternoon, and see how that starts to affect things. Also, I would read Step 3 and Step 4 posts to find any other sources of blood sugar/liver imbalance. If you can find it, a source of A2 dairy is probably important if she is having to rely heavily on dairy for protein and showing signs of hormone imbalance.

    1. Its not about lectins and phytates. Its about blood sugar spikes and crashes due to the starch. Which leads to cravings. Soaking also does nothing for the opioid effect of grains that causes addiction–cravings and overeating.
      If the thot of no grains terrifies you, its an addiction.
      Nothing in grains cant be found in other foods, except for the opioid effect.
      Veggies have way more fiber for example if ur worried about constipation. B vits are abundant in organ and muscle meats. Nuts n seeds are rich in vit E.

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