brain health, habits, healthy lifestyle, microbiome, nutrition, research

When Healthy Makes You Tired It May Be Hormones

Still tired after making healthier food choices and changing some habits? It may be a hormonal imbalance from your past lifestyle or a chronic deficiency that needs some TLC.

Here’s some real food solutions from expert MDs and best selling authors.

Healthier Habits Overview:

  • You’ve switched from pasta to whole grains or veggie noodles, most of the time.
  • Your Daily Reset Your Morning choice is usually a green smoothie, packed with raw veggies and only one fruit. A high quality protein powder keeps you full longer.
  • Eating when hungry happens less often and is almost like clockwork.
  • Meals are balanced, with lean protein (and sometimes legumes), a healthy fat, and half a plate of veggies.
  • You’ve found your flavor of probiotics and find it easy to add bone broth to your dinner meals. Coconut lime sipping broth replaced your afternoon coffee urge.
  • It’s been many months, and eating real food is now an automatic choice for you, not just this-then-that or substitution.
  • A week or two into full swing healthy eating left you feeling great. Clear minded and even surprised by this new found energy and staying power.  Bone broth and fermented foods made for a smooth transition, stabilizing your gut and nourishing the brain as well with a plethora of minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and probiotics.
  • There are no more food cravings pulling you back to processed, boxed meals or snacks. You are done with snacks, breads, and desserts made exclusively with refined flour or sugars.  This has helped your confidence to grow, a reward for your choices in a routine that worked for you.

OK, so this is an ideal health scenario!  But, in order to even come close, you’ve definitely made some of these lifestyle changes.

Should Tired Be Part of Healthy?

But, then a tiredness crept back in. You know it now-something that was once an ordinary part of every day, and yet it feels like a different kind of tired. Midafternoon is especially difficult, or feeling very awake at night, or even bloating after meals when your weight hasn’t fluctuated.

You reach for food to soothe the body’s weariness-this time, it’s a lean protein and a complex carb snack or sipping broth instead of a cup of coffee with a donuts!

And yet, day after day, this tiredness continues.  You check to make sure you are doing everything “right,” rereading the posts on carbs and sugar, and checking your ingredients and meal choices yet again.

Then, to top that confusion off, your scale stops moving when it was so close to your optimal weight!  That just makes you even more tired, thinking about the scale once again after months of visual success in lost inches and pounds.

The Need for Comfort Foods

For us emotional eaters, you know how sometimes you just needed to eat (a container of Talenti gelato) to “feel” better?

It needs some extra lovin’, time, and attention. STAT.

Think back to what used to be staple foods in your day.  For many, veggies were once a day-not once every meal, and they were probably “preserved for freshness” with a list of “ingredients” you couldn’t pronounce or even want to read all the way through.

Snacks mostly came from boxes or bags, and protein size was an issue since the salty-sweetness (intentionally marketed) combo made you eat more at once than at a main meal.  Way too many calories, additives, and refined flours and sugar for your body to process in a timely manner when it is working overtime.

Do you remember bathroom breaks being an issue as well?  It could have been one way or the other, but rarely a “comfortable” break.  Eating more veggies, bone broth, and probiotics helps tremendously!

And let’s not forget late night, after a full meal, binge eating on sweets-homemade or packaged, frozen dairy products, or other baked goods while plopped, relaxing in front of a device after a long day of work. Don’t worry, you’d get to bed before the sugar rush hit-or just wait for it to hit then sleep off the crash.

In taking the time to “process your food” choices, you can gain insight into how far you’ve shifted your relationship with food.  It is a relationship, whether you entered into to it with good intentions in the beginning or not, and every relationship leaves its mark.

You know how sometimes you really feel the sting from a bad fight?  While you have successfully altered that relationship by developing better eating habits and adding variety, those processed foods, boxed quick bites, preservatives and chemicals, and poor eating habits are like the unseen baggage of said past fights.  They do leave their mark inside your body’s systems.

Healing takes time, even when you’ve made amends and moved to healthier ways of dealing with an issue.  It’s the same with the body.

Years of poor eating and processed, refined foods can have a series of detrimental effects long after the source has been eliminated.

Author and MD Raphael Kellman states in his book, The Microbiome Diet: “rebalance your microbiome, and the rest will follow” by “avoid[ing] the foods that hurt the microbiome and eat[ing] the foods that support it” (pg 21; 6).

Your body just needs an extra boost from additional comfort foods!  Bloodwork and tests at your doctor’s office will help speed up recovery and aid in healing because you will be able to specify the nutrients and the appropriate levels.

To be honest, I’ve been feeling like crap-but only in the afternoons.  One of the three common weight loss issues, hormones, is needing extra TCL in my body.  At first, I was a little embarrassed by this need for added attention, but given perspective, my body has been through a lot.  We all have an achillis’ heel!

Clean eating has been amazing for me and I actually LIKE eating 5-7 veggies a day (not just over a month 😉 and I approach it as a tasty challenge some days. I shouldn’t have been surprised or taken off guard that the years of binge eating and cravings had led to severe depletion, reduction, and imbalanced systems.

Your body may need more targeted nutrition, and in specific amounts, in order to restock and then thrive.

In fact, many people need some hormonal comfort food (and sometimes hormonal medications) to bolster those important hormones. This is commonly associated with adrenal fatigue, which is characterized by:

·         Chronic fatigue ·         Allergies ·         Chronic stress
·         Digestive issues ·         Moodiness ·         Weight plateaus or gains

If this list sounds like your “healthy tired,” I recommend (talking with your doctor about the information contained in) these three books:

Cover art        Hormonal Balance: How to Lose Weight by Understanding Your Hormones and Metabolism      The Adrenal Reset Diet: Strategically Cycle Carbs and Proteins to Lose Weight, Balance Hormones, and Move from Stressed to Thriving - Christianson, Alan, Dr., and Gottfried, Sara, Dr. (Foreword by)

Overcoming Adrenal Fatigue by Katheryn Simpson tells her personal story about recovering from the debilitating disease of MS by focusing on hormonal balance using specific foods and supplements under supervision.

Or, what if tired looks more like this:

·         Arthritis, joint, and stability issues ·         Numbness, vertigo ·         Allergies, frequent sickness
·         Blood sugar instability ·         Dermatitis issues, rashes, dry spots ·         Tummy troubles
·         Iron deficiency ·         Reflux or heartburn ·         Respiratory allergies

This second list is derived from two books that address health issues caused by gluten and dairy. I know, the whole gluten debate showed up.  Did you know that gluten is a protein no body can process, some less than others?

Before you stop reading, realize that there’s one underlying cause that will address both of these “healthy tired” lists: inflammation.

Best-selling author and MD, Dr. Kellyann (Petrucci), specializes in targeting inflammation with foods-especially bone broth.  In a recent post on, she lists five “healthy” foods that actually increase inflammation and thereby its damaging effects within the body.  Some foods on the list are made with dairy and gluten, have hidden sugar, and the wrong kind of fat.

Reducing and eliminating foods that trigger, create, or increase the body’s negative response to them causes an inflammatory response.  A continual state of chronic inflammation wreaks havoc on hormone levels, lowers metabolism, and can lead to a cascading effect on all body functions.  Inflammation leads to FAT.

Gluten, dairy, and sugar just speed up the body’s downfall and exacerbate your body’s response. While you are eating healthy foods, your body may also be working to regain balance or restore depleted reserves of its minerals, enzymes, and beneficial bacteria so they can do the healing.  Thus, a “healthy tired,” which is an oxymoronic statement!

How to Be Healthy Without the Tired

  • Check labels for hidden added sugar, unhealthy oils, dominating gluten flours, or added chemicals
  • Re-evaluate your foods. Unless you’ve prepared meals in advance, you should open your fridge and cabinets and say something like this:

First World Problems - There's no food Only ingredients to make food

If your kind of tired is generalized more from the first list, you need to help restore hormonal balance and decrease inflammation by incorporating targeted foods, herbs, and spices when they are needed most.  Author of the Adrenal Reset Diet says to “strategically cycle carbs and proteins to lose weight and balance hormones,” which will also “reverse the effects of processed foods on visceral fat stores” (pg 5).

Learn more about carbohydrates.

If you found yourself groaning as you read through the gluten/dairy list, you are not alone. I, too, sighed deep and acknowledged-only slightly, that my love of dairy is a long term problem that I have avoided for many years.

Instead, Daily Resets are an easy way to focus your foods to decrease inflammation, balance hormones, and increase metabolism.  Daily Reset Your Night and Morning options boost hormones at the times when the body relies on hormones the most for optimal functioning.  Increasing the quantity of carbs as your day progresses will specifically rebalance hormones through the circadian rhythm (Christianson).

A variety of veggies each day will set many things right; 5-9 servings daily, crazy right?!

Personally, when I felt this “healthy tired,” I did these things, focusing only on boosting my veggie intake daily.  It took about a month for me to finally realize that my afternoon fatigue and blah had disappeared…and I hadn’t even noticed because I simply felt good!

    • Prepped a large raw, veggie salad loaded with as many veggies as I had on hand. I then added probiotic sauerkraut and beet kvass into the salad as well.
    • Made single serving jars of the prepped veggie salad (which I called slaw) and also prepped serving sized bags of lentils to make the slaw into a meal with protein.
    • Started my days with a green smoothie filled with 2+ cups of spinach and other veggie scraps
    • Made a green smoothie in the afternoon instead of a coffee, adding in a protein
    • Snacked on cooked fruit at night (recipe for toasty bananas)
    • Prepped and cut unlimited raw, vegan desserts for quick grab treats filled with fruit sugar and healthy fat
    • Automatically put a bed of raw sliced red cabbage or spinach into my dinner bowl so that I added my meal to it, which visually decreased my cooked meal portion size and accounted for more veggies!
    • Encouraged my kids to be creative in the kitchen, especially at snack times
    • Pre-diced raw red onions for meal toppers and used this spicy topping from Belize on literally everything I ate:

After reading these leading doctors discuss the long term implications of these inflammatory foods and the effects of the inflammation on the body, you can make the decision to:

  • Ferment milk using milk kefir grains to make other cultured dairy products
  • Explore new flavors (like the Flaxmilk review post), coconut milk, or another nut milkhealthy living, diet, gut microbiome, beneficial bacteria
  • Make nut milks at home, which is very easy to do
  • Simply eliminate dairy all together or at least while your body is healing
  • Use a spiralizer to make veggie noodles (soften if soaked in an acidic juice) instead of pasta
  • Keep whole grain servings to ¼- ½ cup each meal to minimize exposure
  • Ferment your flour products: sourdough breads

Unfortunately, gluten and dairy are both addictive, triggering the opioids that make you want more.  Good thing you know what to eat in order to reset the cycle: the basics of Reset Your Weight:

  • Bone broth
  • Fermented foods and probiotic drinks
  • Drink 2 quarts of water daily to eliminate toxins (Dr. Isaacs)

You knew I was going to say that, right?! Even easier is the combine broth in a bone broth soup meal loaded with lean protein, veggie carbs, and a fermented veggie or brine.  The healthy fat is already accounted for in the bone broth and lean protein.


Thriving, Balanced Hormones

Author of the Grain Brain and Brain Maker, Dr. Perlmutter, has an entire chapter in the Brain Maker listing foods that fix inflammation.  Reset Your Weight follows his recommendations!

He continually reiterates that “dietary choices are the most critical factor in shaping the gut microbiome” so that inflammation is reduced, metabolism increases, and hormones are balanced for optimum brain functioning and overall health (pg. 144).

He states that consuming beneficial bacteria from food is extremely useful to the body in several key ways. Within the digestive system, the probiotic beneficial bacteria (pg. 181):

  • Metabolize their own source of fuel from the diet itself
  • Liberate nutrients with the foods to nourish the body
  • Increase the availability of vitamins A, C, K, and several B’s

For optimal health, Dr. Perlmutter recommends that a healthy diet include:

  • Less grains and carbs in general, favoring high quality fat since “fat-not carbs, is the preferred fuel of metabolism” (pg 185)
  • Feeding the probiotics with plenty of included pre-biotic foods (at least 12 grams daily), which also promote fullness!
  • Drinking water without chlorine, which is an agent designed to kill all bacteria. Keep wine, tea, coffee, and cocoa
  • Recommends seasonal intermittent fasting to convert fat into fuel

There are too many probiotic strains to test and identify, especially in our diminishing Western microbiome, but the Brain Maker reviews five core probiotic strains that have been proven to strengthen the intestinal lining, reduce inflammation, and sustain balance.

These probiotics are easily incorporated by eating these common fermented foods:

·         Sauerkraut ·         Kimchi ·         Fermented pickles
·         Cultured veggies ·         Fermented, cultured whole milk, whole fat dairy

Ready to Reset using foods that will decrease inflammation, balance hormones, and increase metabolism? Check out Daily Resets: The New Willpower to get started!  A bit overwhelmed with just how much food can affect your weight? Let me leave you with this inspiration:

“When in good health, we are able to keep our weight at a range conducive to our good health despite inevitable variations in day to day food intake” — (The Adrenal Reset Diet, pg. 45).

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