Updated: May 19
There are tons of advantages to cooking at home - like being kinder to our wallets, getting foods that are fresh and whole instead of processed and refined (which reduces their nutrient content), and eliminating a lot of the sneaky sugars that get added to pre-made foods and can upset hormone balance. But in terms of the effect on hormones specifically, some of the most important benefits to cooking from home include the additional control we have over the ingredient list - this means we can include Omega-3 fats that we need to make hormones like progesterone (which can be helpful in getting us off the emotional rollercoaster that can accompany PMS), increase fibre intake to make sure we're properly detoxifying estrogen (which needs to stay in balance to prevent estrogen dominance, regardless of your gender), and add in foods rich in B vitamins (like meat, eggs, whole grains, or nutritional yeast) to support the adrenal glands and help to prevent burnout in times of stress. So here are 3 cooking tips - tried and true - to help you slowly transition to adding cooking to your routine at home (without adding the extra stress). 1. Use the buddy system. One of my friends will suggest cooking as an activity when she has a friend over, which is how I learned my favourite fettucine recipe, and my partner and I will make (and hopefully eat) a new meal together as a date night. I find dividing the tasks (and having someone to bounce ideas off of when you're trying to figure out if your chicken is cooked or not) takes a lot of the pressure off - and can make for some fantastic discoveries as well as some funny stories. 2. Find some recipes you're excited about. I find that sometimes my reluctance to cook comes from a lack of motivation, so I try to find recipes that inspire or challenge me a little - this could be a new twist on an old favourite, like gluten-free chicken nuggets, or a dessert that comes with absolutely mouth-watering photos, or your grandmother's famous pasta sauce that you're hoping to one day perfect. I'm a big fan of cookbooks, like The Keto Diet from By Leanne Vogel (so many delicious recipes!), but there are also tons of great free food blogs out there like Minimalist Baker for simple (but flavourful) recipes and Good Saint for tons of plant-based eats. If you're a fan of Pinterest, this is an excellent excuse to create a board and pin to your heart's content. 3. Remember that baby steps are just fine. Being both Type A and a notorious perfectionist, I'm basically an expert at turning a reasonable goal into an overly ambitious task that ends up stressing me out, but cooking more often doesn't have to be suddenly making everything you eat from scratch or spending 3 hours every night in the kitchen. Maybe it'll look like chopping up 2 fresh veggies to add to your dinner, or making overnight oats ahead of time before work this week, or having taco night at home as a way to switch things up from taco night out. You don't have turn into Gordon Ramsay to get more comfortable in your own kitchen and make small but significant changes that can improve your well-being and your hormone balance - not to mention your popularity as a host for upcoming dinner parties.
3 Ways to Treat PMS Naturally and Balance Your Hormones by Natasha Turner, ND [naturopathic doctor].
8 Ways Food Companies Hide the Sugar Content of Foods. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-ways-sugar-is-hidden
Effects of Food Processing. Comparative Diets - Course Notes, from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition - Ottawa.
Here's How Much Money You Save By Cooking At Home by priceonomics. https://www.forbes.com/sites/priceonomics/2018/07/10/heres-how-much-money-do-you-save-by-cooking-at-home/#3bcb0b2435e5
How to Use Safe Fish Oils to Balance Your Hormones and Reduce Inflammation by Magadalena Wszelaki. https://hormonesbalance.com/articles/fish-oil-omega-3s-balance-hormones-reduce-inflammation/
Vitamin B-5 [Pantothenic Acid]; Underactive Adrenals. Nutritional Symptomatology - Course Notes by Lynne Hinton and Tracy McBurney, from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition - Ottawa
Photo credit: Mission & Theory Co. creative agency