Welcome back to The Balanced Dietitian Podcast! I am really pumped to be able to share this podcast episode with you. Today we are talking about hormones, hormonal health, and hormonal imbalances, especially in relation to when we are undereating, disordered eating, or struggling with eating disorders. We want to talk about the impact of hormones.
Today we have Helena Ezzeldin with us who is a licensed dietitian and nutritionist who is really dedicated to helping people rediscover health with the relationship with food and their body. She has a lot of experience with eating disorders as well as functional health.
[04:15] About Helena and the work she does
Helena is a Licensed Dietitian for practice out in Northern Virginia and crazy enough started in the field with a functional medicine interest so she came in with a very huge contrast to what she does now, which is eating disorders. Through the functional medicine side, Helena formed her own way to practice addressing some of the disordered eating concerns and some of the ideologies that are around disordered eating.
[08:52] Hormones & their roles in our bodies
Hormone imbalance can consist of a multitude of things, because hormones in and of themselves are essentially your body’s chemical messengers, like little army men. They’re primarily produced in the endocrine gland of the body and they have very powerful chemicals that travel around your bloodstream, acknowledging and telling tissues and organs, essentially what to do. So you can imagine that if we have just the slightest dysregulation, how those messengers can cause a little bit of havoc. In many cases, they help control your body’s metabolism, reproduction, temperature, regulation, etc. So when you have too much or too little, your whole body is influenced in some capacity.
[10:34] Hormonal imbalances
Any shift in your homeostatic state can cause an imbalance. There are many different factors that can influence imbalances like stress, fatigue, malnutrition, over-exercise, age, environmental toxins, and so much more. However, it’s not only the presence of these factors, it’s the chronic illness of these factors. But it’s not only the factors, it’s the longevity component of how long is your body exposed to these things. Imbalances can be normal but it is how quickly and how well your body responds to them that matters. Imbalances are happening all the time. You really have to trust that your body has the capability to regulate right at a quick enough fashion, and prevent any type of negative symptoms that might persist if you’re exposed long term.
[17:48] Hormone myths
The biggest myth Helena has seen more recently is one of the symptoms that commonly persist with the dysregulation of hormones is weight fluctuation and when weight fluctuation goes in a direction that a client may not want, their immediate reaction is to change what I’m eating. Restricting what we eat is going to exacerbate any type of symptoms you might have had in the past, it’s going to definitely make it much harder for your hormones to regulate on their own.
One of the hardest realities is that restricting is actually the opposite of what we want to do. We want to focus on what we can add to our nutrition to help you cope with dysregulation. The biggest myth absolutely is changing, and restricting nutrition. That is the opposite of what we want to do.
[23:23] Eating disorder effects on hormones
If someone is struggling with an eating disorder, especially at a younger age, they’re really susceptible to having a hard time reaching puberty and growth. Secondly, something that’s a little bit more drastic is bone health significantly decreases. Hormones touch everything. At some point or another, our hormones touch every single piece, and they thrive off of energy, fat, proteins, and carbohydrates. And if those needs aren’t met, the body doesn’t like to be uncomfortable so it slowly starts to shut down.
If we’re in this kind of chronic stress situation when our body’s trying to regulate itself, but it can’t quickly enough, we’re releasing cortisol, growth hormone, and noradrenaline, which have a detrimental effect on mental health. Eating disorders already have such a huge impact on mental health when we’re thinking about triggers.
[26:54] Is hormonal imbalance reversible?
Obviously our goal is to be able to help individuals find their more homeostatic place metabolically, hormonally, etc. It definitely takes time and some work to get back to that state. One thing that really needs to happen first and foremost is connection and trust with your body. If we’re losing that connection with ourselves, it’s really hard to do that. It is amazing how our body is able to recover.
[33:11] Helena answers the fun questions
Helena’s favorite food is pizza and sometimes even with pineapple. If she had a superpower she would want to be able to breathe underwater because water is so fascinating. For self-care, she loves reading dramatic novels. For her balance means letting go. Once you learn to be able to let things go, balance just comes naturally.
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