Stress. Deadlines. Busy Schedule.
Our brains as women biologically function different than men. A man’s brain generally functions with more focus on one task at hand. Typically, the higher estrogen levels women have can make our brains look like computers with many tabs open, where we are able to jump from task to task, and work on several projects simultaneously. It gives us a unique ability to see the big picture and operate from many details, in knowing that everything is intrinsically connected. It’s why the men in our lives tell us to “get to the point” when we’re telling long drawn out stories, and our girlfriends hang onto every word. All that extra clutter of emotion and detail when telling a story can be quite confusing to our male friends, but our sister-friends catch every beat, waiting for it all to tie together.
But the catch 22 of our incredible female brains is the world we live in is set up in a patriarchal, masculine based model, where rigid work schedules allow little time for feminine flow. As women are cyclical, our needs shift throughout the month from social, expansive energies, to contracting energies asking us for more rest, especially during our menses.
With the ability of our feminine brains to see the connectivity of all tasks, this is reflected in our lives as we juggle roles of working, mothering our children, paying upcoming bills, care-taking loved ones, helping friends, volunteering at community events, cooking, cleaning, and caring for ourselves. With the overwhelming stress brought on by our culture’s love for productivity, women may feel the pressures of maintaining all these roles and just like the computer screen with many tabs open, eventually she may overload and crash.
It’s important to note that not all women experience stress this way, and some can thrive in intensive corporate work environments.
Multiple Roles Women Fill in Current Society:
- Full Time/Part Time Employee
- Caregiver (including of aging parents)
- Business Owner
- Community Volunteer
- Cook of Household
- Household Caretaker
Why Stress Contributes to Hormonal Imbalance
If you resonate with the overwhelm I am describing, here’s a little bit about how your body reacts to stress: cortisol levels can rise and fall throughout the day due to stress responses, and overtime this can exhaust the adrenals by having them work overtime to meet the needs of producing cortisol. The mother hormone, pregnenolone, is the building block of the sex hormones; however instead of building up our fertility with producing hormones such as progesterone, it will first convert to making cortisol, because our body is requiring higher levels of cortisol to deal with chronic stress. This is called “pregnenolone steal,” when it is being stolen to make cortisol rather than other necessary sex hormones. This increase production of cortisol eventually burns out the adrenals, imbalances your hormones, and leaves you feeling depleted and exhausted.
What to Eat to Combat Stress
Here is my #1 tip to help prevent you from reaching that burnout: Eat foods with enough protein and fat will help stabilize blood sugar. When cortisol levels elevate, this also raises insulin levels and can create blood sugar spikes and crashes. Keeping your blood sugar stabilized will help reduce the stress response you are feeling and help you move through the stress with more emotional and physical ease.
My “Serenity Bowl” recipe has healthy fat and protein from ingredients such as quinoa, egg, avocado, and black beans and is full of flavor. This can be a quick recipe to prepare, especially if you pre-cook the quinoa and black beans and keep glass containers in the fridge ready to go, or buy pre-cooked black beans. Taking time to nourish your body with healthful meals will help you combat stress in the long run. Cheers to working with our feminine chemistry, rather than against it!
Serenity Bowl Focus:
Healthy Fat…. Clean Protein….. Fiber….. Probiotics…. Magnesium…. Low in Sugar
Eggs: Rich in Protein and Healthy Fats
But you may be worried about cholesterol? Eggs raise the levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. Cholesterol is extremely beneficial for the body- pregnenolone is made from cholesterol, as well as other hormones: cortisol, testosterone, estrogen.
The egg yolk is the healthiest part of the egg. It is concentrated in Vitamin D, and when left runny, more of this nutrient is available. The yolk contains almost all of the whole egg’s calcium, iron, B-12, folate, B-6, Vitamin A, and zinc.
Avocado: Contains healthy fats which can increase your testosterone levels. Have you been feeling a lack of libido due to a stressful and overworked lifestyle? Eating avocados can help to strengthen the libido by increasing testosterone reserves.
Quinoa: Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Quinoa is actually a relative to spinach, and although we call it a grain and cook it like a grain, it is actually the seeds of the plant, making it digest more like a seed than a grain.
Black Beans: Known in Chinese Traditional Medicine to nourish the kidneys, strengthen spleen and blood, and brighten eyes, making it a great food for maintaining adrenal health. Black beans are also high in protein and fiber which will prevent blood sugar spikes.
Sauerkraut: Rich in probiotics to increase beneficial bacteria within the gut flora. When under stress, chronic high levels of cortisol can compromise the immune system. Having a strong colony of beneficial microbiota will become your strongest defense system- they compete to live with the pathogens and harmful bacteria that enter the system. If there is a strong colony, they will keep these harmful bacteria from over-colonizing and prevent sickness.
Baby Kale: A dark leafy green, rich in magnesium to reduce bloating.
This salad contains no dressing, because the salsa, sauerkraut, and avocado provide much flavor when mixed together. Often, store bought dressings include sugar.