Why a Cookbook?
I believe that good health is an essential ingredient in a good life. I believe that the key to one’s best health is a lifestyle based on deliberate habits supported by solid evidence. That includes a diet with a variety of minimally processed foods in reasonable amounts. But that’s not the end of the story. You can tailor that diet to further meet your specific needs, and I’m honored to show you how in The Hormone Healing Cookbook.
My first book to reach a wider audience contained the idea that foods could be timed in a way to reset the body’s stress response. It included meal plans and recipes to provide practical applications. I was excited to share the idea. It seemed to me to be a big idea, a revolutionary one. I’ve always enjoyed healthful cooking, and it seemed like an afterthought to plug in some of my favorite recipes.
My readers’ feedback surprised me. They did find the program to be helpful, and they shared inspiring results. I was elated but also pleasantly surprised to learn that the recipes were a big part of their success.
I started sharing more recipes online, along with publishing two more books. Still, readers asked for a cookbook.
Well, I’ve finally delivered! And while there’s no way to deny that this book is all about the easy, delicious recipes, they are all in service to one idea: that specific foods can reverse a hormone imbalance and your symptoms can illuminate which foods to focus on. Daily cooking is more than a way to feed yourself. It is the center of a healthy and happy life.
The better your life is, the fewer preventable issues emerge, and the better you can deal with the unpreventable ones.
From our surveys and from the questions you’ve sent, your top concerns are weight loss, more energy, better mental function, easier menopause, and improved sleep. Some of these have been covered in my other books; others have not. The common thread is that these are all hormonal symptoms.
Let me expand on the word hormone
so we can be sure we’re talking about the same thing.
In the medical world, hormones are chemicals that regulate the body’s systems. The most relevant ones include hormones from the thyroid, the adrenal glands, and the ovaries or testicles. When people outside medical circles talk about hormones, they usually mean estrogen-related symptoms like PMS, menopause, or fertility. When this cookbook talks about hormones, it means all of the above. There is so much research showing that food can help hormone regulation, and I’m excited to share it with you in a practical form.
There are three ways to make use of these recipes. First, this cookbook is organized around top hormonal symptoms. If you’re struggling mainly with one of these symptoms— weight gain, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, or hot flashes—follow one of the 14-Day Menu Plans to get relief (starting on page 70). Second, you can use these as recipes for the programs in other books. Some need a little modification, which I have provided. Third is to just skip around and have fun. Find a recipe that sounds good, give it a try, and repeat. They are all tasty, easy, and healthy. Why Symptoms?
I organized this cookbook around symptoms because they are what matter most.
All too often the medical world focuses on everything but symptoms, when the whole point is to help you feel better. Doctors often focus on laboratory results over symptoms because symptoms are out of their control. They can’t assign numbers to them, and symptoms can get worse even if doctors prescribe the “right” treatment.
Lab findings are part of the doctors’ sphere of control. Symptoms are not. When patients talk about symptoms, they are the ones in control. When the focus is on labs, the doctor can decide whether the treatment worked or not. Did the lab results get better? Then case closed.
But there is no victory unless your symptoms improve. You don’t really care if your labs are better if you don’t feel better. Symptoms are more than different forms of discomfort. They can determine the quality of your life. They are also the best way for you to know what is happening inside your body. If they persist, you know there is still an underlying problem that has been missed.
The fewer of them you have and the milder they are, the better your life is. As an endocrinologist, I focus on the hormones behind the symptoms. Is the culprit estrogen, cortisol, or T3 from the thyroid? There is a place for this approach, but it has its limits. The typical scenario is that doctors will rule out the most severe diseases and then proclaim that nothing else is wrong. They are often not trained to think about hormones. Symptoms are the first sign of a hormone imbalance. Disease is the second sign.
The body adjusts its hormone levels to stay in balance. Hormones govern the rate and the timing of our core chemical reactions. When reactions occur too slowly, we feel tired, gain weight, and can’t think clearly. When the timing of daily reactions is disrupted, we can’t sleep well. Timing also applies to how well we move through life’s stages like perimenopause and menopause. If the events within these major transitions are not smoothly orchestrated, normal symptoms of the transition are worse.
There is a balancing act between doing what you can to improve your own health and seeking medical care when appropriate. The only simple answer to this dilemma is to have a good working relationship with a health care professional. Even when you have a good relationship, there are times when you need to decide whether to focus on self-care or further diagnosis. Consider a second opinion if your symptoms are severe, new, or changing, or if you feel your symptoms aren’t being taken seriously. If your symptoms are stable and well explained, but you’re still not feeling your best, you can now take matters into your own kitchen. Cooking is powerful. I say this because I’ve seen food help tens of thousands of people over the course of more than twenty-five years of patient care. This cookbook draws on my experience and the medical literature to select specific foods to help these top hormonal symptoms.
But food is just the starting place. For the recipes to work, they must become part of your daily life. If food is to be an effective solution, it must be easy to find and work with. Most of all, the meals must taste good. Some people might be able to force themselves to eat things they don’t like or skip their favorite foods for longer than others, but no one can do it long term. The right food can help, but only if it is part of a good recipe and a lifestyle that works for you. It can help even more when the recipe is tailored to your specific symptoms. Every recipe in this cookbook was created to help you feel better. The ingredients were chosen because of their specific effects. And, if you’ll forgive me for saying so myself, they are good!
I think we can agree that good food is fresh, flavorful, balanced, properly cooked, and lovingly prepared. Good food is satisfying, nourishing, and good for you. It leaves you feeling alive and eager to take on life’s challenges. If you don’t already love to cook, this cookbook might change that. Making meal plans and shopping lists can be the hardest part, and I’ve done that for you! When it involves less struggle, cooking can be a form of meditation.
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