Years ago I wrote a (now unpublished) post about the ridiculous rollercoaster PMS I would get. It was a rather funny tale about how completely irrational I would be, tears flowing type of irrational, and yet could not control myself – even though I knew I was being ridiculous. Fast forward a couple years and after I had our now 5 year old I wrote a post about postpartum hormones and jokingly called them pregnancy hormones ‘crazy, older sister’.
As women, and as a society, we have come to accept that being hormonal disasters is normal. That having our periods and monthly cycles dominate our existence and in many cases completely debilitate us is just a part of normal, female life.
I used to be that girl. The girl who had to call in sick to work once a month because day 1 of my period was genuinely that awful. PMS (in the pre-period week of our cycles) was something I dealt with in a serious way. I was a cranky, emotional, fetal-positioned on my bed because of cramps. My legs would ache. I would get SO tired. It was not pretty, but yet somehow ‘normal’. Combine that with the actual period phase of the cycle and there went half of my month. During that 5ish days I would continue with the cramps, felt so uncomfortable, had ridiculous cravings (usually for sugar), would be a solid 3-4 pounds heavier. Basically I was a mess. And again, this is ‘normal’.
And this, my friends, is complete, fictitious bullshit.
As I became a healthier version of myself, and started reading and educating myself I read a lot about the B-vitamins for PMS and periods. After a couple months of taking them I noticed huge improvements. As the years went on and my diet changed from a mainstream ‘healthy’ (IE: diet foods, lean animal proteins, yogurts, lots of fruits and veggies), I noticed even more changes. My PMS was minor and my periods were actually getting lighter.
Fast forward to postpartum me, and I was once again back to being a disheveled mess. This time however, I knew how to balance what I needed to. By sticking to my plant-based diet, chocked full of nutrients and vitamins my body needed to function optimally, I was back to my *pre-baby self.
*I’m not talking weight, but that mental fog so many new moms are told is ‘normal’ when the truth is just because so many women experience it doesn’t make it normal. But while we are on the subject of weight, you simply cannot shed any excess pounds if your gut health or hormones are out of whack. If your body is too focused on simply trying to keep itself alive, the last thing it has energy to do is burn off fat. Despite our desires or wants, our body has one goal: provide nutrients to key organs. And our organs need hormones to work. Balance the gut and hormones, your body can run smoothly and focus on other health goals.
I often get asked why I focus on a plant-based diet when so many other sources include things like bone broth, lean meats and some dairy. My first response is, “where’s the emphasis?” I say this because based on the high number of books, studies and articles I have read on hormones and/or gut health they all focus on increasing fruits, vegetables and healthy fats with minimal animal protein and preferably no dairy. So why include animal proteins at all?
Logic also says to me, animals have hormones in them. I’m not talking about added hormones to fatten animals up but the naturally occurring hormones. I struggle to believe that we can consume animal products without ingesting these hormones also. SO if our objective is to make ourselves feel better, get our own hormones back into shape, why the hell would we put animal hormones into our bodies??
I think the hardest part of it all is that we often don’t even realize the symptoms we are experiencing are from dysfunctional hormones. We don’t connect our moodiness, brain fog, lack of weight loss/gain, fatigue, hunger etc. as a sign of something wrong – especially during postpartum, menopause or our menstrual periods. To us we think that they’re normal parts of being busy, multi-tasking women, but we need to change that. These are symptoms of a bigger issue, and once we recognize these things as not normal, we can then get our hormones back in check and regain the time and energy lost to these life interfering symptoms.