Rebalancing your hormones by Kat D’Andrea

Photograph of Kat d'Andrea - specialist in women's hormonal health.

“It’s the small changes that can create the greatest difference to our health… have a balanced diet including protein, fibre and essential fatty acids first thing in the morning… feed your body with natural foods and remedies…”

Kat D’Andrea – dipNT CNM, mBANT, rCNHC – is a London based specialist in Women’s Hormonal Health & Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist dedicated to helping those who have been diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and also those who suffer with PMS.

Have you ever heard the saying ‘Break-in-the-Fast’?

The term breakfast literally means, 'breaking the fast'. It is the time in our schedule when, after a long stretch of no food, we eat.

What you may not know is, what happens while we sleep? By sleeping, our body works hard to restore, repair and reset our internal organs. This daily cycle returns our body back to its natural balanced state, which refreshes us for the day ahead.

As you might imagine, skipping breakfast denies our bodies the energy needed for the day and as a result we feel fatigue. Similarly, eating a breakfast loaded with carbohydrates and sugar fails to provide proteins, fibre, and essential fats that our body converts to energy.

So, with our schedules and lifestyles becoming increasingly busy and many of us not having time for breakfast, its no wonder many of us feel more and more exhausted than ever before. It’s easy to get into a routine by snoozing our alarm in the early hours of the morning.. But whilst we think an extra 15 minutes in bed will help, our body’s energy levels become an unfortunate casualty through skipping breakfast. It is tempting to turn this into a daily routine, but it is one that we must start to break!

This habit is now so common that, according to one study only 44% of us eat breakfast!

More than half of us…

  • Find it hard to wake up in the morning
  • Are easily irritated
  • Are more anxious than ever before
  • Can’t function without coffee - more on this later!
  • Have no appetite in the morning

We all know our time is of the essence. Whether rushing on the daily school run, running the rat race into the office, or frantically dashing to an important meeting, we need energy to maintain these routines. Breaking the fast provides us with the energy to do so.

Our hormones... while you're sleeping

Overnight, our body is in fasting mode. Melatonin (the sleepy hormone) helps us to rest and by early morning our blood sugar levels will naturally be lower because we have not yet eaten. 

So normally, we should be hungry! If you typically lack an appetite in the morning, perhaps you have not been breaking the fast effectively? If this is the case, we must train our body into stimulating an appetite to bring it back to stability. Consequently, life is a delicate balancing act.

Rise and shine

As soon as we wake up, ‘Cortisol – the rise and shine hormone’, helps us get out of bed. If you have difficulty getting up in the morning, perhaps you have been running on empty for a while?

Our body converts carbohydrates, protein and essential fats into energy and transports it into cells to help stabilise blood sugar levels. An imbalance of blood sugar levels from missing key nutrients in a healthy breakfast outrages our hormones – so much so, that this is now believed to be the number one cause of hormonal problems (over-irritability, anxiety, headaches, PMS).

No appetite and no time!

The classic excuse why only 44% of us eat breakfast is because most of us are simply not hungry. This is a sign our body has adapted into survival mode, where we feel no need or desire to stimulate hunger.

Instead, our bodies tend to protect themselves by storing the next meal as ‘fat around the middle’.

Where do I begin?

The first thing we can do to change course is slowly awaken our body to stimulate our appetite. I recommend having a mug of warm water with any of the following: lemon, ginger, fresh mint or honey.

Shortly following this, take a minute or two and make a protein breakfast shake. It takes 30 seconds to make a protein breakfast shake and is easy to clean if using a NutriBullet or Ninja Bullet!

When is the right time to eat?

The most important aspect of Breaking the fast is to eat within one hour of rising. As creatures of habit, if we fail to do so we typically dive into coffee, croissants, or snack on other naughty treats in attempt to feed our cells’ craving of sugar.

Having something in your belly within that first hour keeps blood sugar levels fairly steady throughout the day.

What about coffee? When is the best time to have it?

Ahhh yes, the joys of coffee!

If we have coffee prior to eating, it causes our cortisol levels to spike. Over time, cortisol appears as fat around our stomach because of our body’s attempt to protect itself from skipping meals. In short, the best time for coffee is after breakfast, separate from any vitamins or mineral supplements. 

The acid in coffee effectively destroys any benefits of vitamins and minerals in contributing to our bodies.

Which key nutrients help balance our hormones?

The key here is to have a balanced diet including protein, fibre and essential fatty acids first thing in the morning, and here’s why:

  • Hormones are transported through protein
  • Fibre binds to toxins (excess hormones) and eliminates these through the digestive system
  • Essential fatty acids convert to energy to help power up our brain

In order to feel more awake, alert, and less fatigued, feast on protein in the morning. Protein is a “slow burner” which means it naturally fills us up until lunchtime. It also contains amino acids like lysine . This amino acid can be found in foods like pumpkin seeds, pistachios, lentils, black beans and quinoa. 

Lysine helps with hair growth, aids in exercise recovery, and supports immunity. It also supports liver function and can eliminate excess oestrogen from the body. When we include protein in our morning breakfast, our blood sugar levels remain stable making us less likely to snack on (and crave) sugary treats.

Fibre binds to toxins (including excess oestrogen) to help eliminate them through the gut. It also promotes digestive health, which is vital for hormonal health. Foods like Chia seeds contain fibre and more omega-3 than fish. These powerful little seeds can waken our minds and increase metabolism by balancing blood sugar.

If you’re wondering what to do with chia seeds, try soaking them in almond milk overnight. The seeds expand and you can add them to your breakfast pot along with coconut yoghurt, healthy oats, a handful of blackberries, a scoop of Purition powder, cinnamon, cashew butter, a dash of almond milk.

Our brain is made of 60% fat, so essential fats found in coconut, macadamia nuts & sunflower seeds promote a clear mind, protecting against that foggy-heade” morning feeling.

I normally have a good oat, fruit and yoghurt breakfast pot an hour after my morning shake. This fills me up until lunchtime. You might prefer a larger, nutrient rich shake to hold you over until lunch.

What’s the best way to 'break the fast' and how do I fit all this in?

If you often lack a morning appetite or struggle to fit breakfast into your morning routine, try following this schedule for the next three weeks and let me know how you feel?

First thing in the morning

Have a stimulating drink of hot water with either ginger, lemon, fresh mint, or Manuka honey. This will stimulate appetite and awaken your metabolism.

Within an hour – have either one of the following:

• Protein shake make with natural proteins and ingredients (avoid additives and flavourings that create toxin build-up)
• Breakfast pot with natural protein powder. This keeps us fuller for longer

LEAP out of bed

The key word to remember to bring about change each morning is to LEAP out of bed:

Liquids upon rising (hot water with _____)
Eat within an hour (have your protein shake), including…
Appetite (have your breakfast pot)
Precious coffee… AFTER breakfast!

“I recommend my clients have protein in their breakfasts in the mornings to help stabilise blood sugar levels, improve mood and transport hormones. Purition is perfect for women’s health! It's also high in fibre, which helps bind to toxins and eliminate them out of our system. What I particularly love about this protein powder is the mineral content magnesium, potassium and selenium from the essential fat in nuts. Extremely essential for energy throughout the day.

 Kat D’Andrea, Instagram

It’s the small changes that can create the greatest difference to our health. Let’s LEAP forward with the energy that comes from a healthy start!

Find out more about Kat...

This article has been written by Kat D’Andrea: Specialist in Women’s Hormonal Health - Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist, regulated by the British Association of Nutritional Therapists BANT and registered with the Complementary Natural Healthcare Council CNHC

Follow Kat: Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Disclaimer: This is not a means of treatment but advice based on evidence based research papers. This is not a form of eliminating any disease.


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