The silly season is upon us and we all know too well how easy it is to overindulge in everything from gifts to one too many mince pies.
Other than the usual suspects of heart disease, diabetes and obesity, a lot of our favourite foods are also contributing to women’s health issues such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis and fibroids through increases in oestrogen.
Elevated levels of insulin can exacerbate symptoms of PCOS for example. Insulin is produced when certain carbohydrates are converted into energy by your body – carbs found in cakes, bread, biscuits, chips, soda and the array of yummy treats you’ve got planned for your Christmas feast.
Caffeine is another culprit adding to gynaecological issues due to anxiety, that first cup of coffee in the morning may help you kick-start your day, but when we come to rely on keeping that cup topped up, that’s when the problems start.
And lastly, a high salt intake is associated with the development of hypertension, cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of stomach cancer. Reducing your salt intake can be challenging as it is found in almost all our everyday foods, but the long-term benefits are tenfold.
Making those subtle healthy changes
It’s always more difficult to go cold turkey and just cut out those “bad foods”, so we’re suggesting that you make small “bite sized” changes to help you live a healthier life to avoid food-induced stress and triggering any symptoms of female health conditions.
Substitution is key; consider swapping from white bread to wholemeal bread. Choose brown rice and sweet potatoes instead of the classic potato – they also leave you feeling fuller for longer as they have a lower glycaemic index, meaning your body can utilise the energy for longer and reduce your cravings for high sugar or salty convenience snacks. Remember to add more green vegetables to every meal and replace cakes or chocolates with fruit.
Often food cravings are masked by dehydration, as the brain cannot always distinguish between feeling hungry and thirsty. So before you reach out for that packet of crisps, try drinking a glass of water first.
Switch at least one of your coffees for green tea and gradually increase it. Even though tea contains as much caffeine as coffee, it has the added benefit of being full of antioxidants.
Improved gynaecological health through diet
Weight gain is a vicious cycle for women – the extra kilograms can cause female specific problems, which in turn lead to cravings, which leads to more weight gain.
You don’t need to stop eating all the foods you love, but you should consider the ways in which you can make healthier choices, especially for special occasions like Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Within only a few days of eating right you’ll start to feel better because your body will be getting the nutrients that makes it thrive – and many of your issues such as pain, anxiety, weight, sleeplessness or women’s health may ease or even disappear.
If you have any questions about your how your diet is affecting your health, please contact Hunter Women’s Health to book an appointment.