The picture you see above is a dairy-free, gluten-free pizza. The crust is made from cauliflower and the cheese is made from almonds. Hi, this is my life now.
I'm eating plant pizza due to a few health issues—mostly of the hormonal imbalance type. I'm also drinking tea instead of wine (most nights) and chaga lattes instead of coffee. Because the truth is, I'm trying, really, really hard to feel better—even if that means saying goodbye to some of my favorite foods and hello to a diet that more closely resembles that of Amanda Chantal Bacon.
Over the years, this blog has worked as a sort of an online diary for myself. I started Cozy Caravan back in 2014, in search of a place to share my writing and find space between things that inspire both a sense of travel and a sense of home. Balance, one might say. Today the name inspires finding a home in my wild, unpredictable body and empowering myself to live a whole, healthy (and still slightly hedonistic) lifestyle. I'd like to balance my damn hormones and cure myself (naturally) of PCOS.
The two are related: PCOS and high stress levels are two of the top symptoms associated with wacky hormones. Stress has been a longterm buddy of mine, so much that in elementary school, my guidance counselor forced me to join a group called “Stress Busters” where the other 9-year-olds and I would talk about homework and bullies and all the other reasons why we cried that week. The mental tragedies of my childhood mind proved themselves relevant a few weeks ago, when I took an at-home metabolism test.
The test scanned my precious bod for three hormones: TSH, Testosterone, and Cortisol, all of which play crucial roles in the function of a healthy metabolism. I was diagnosed with PCOS two years ago and made several life changes in an attempt to get my period back and regulate my menstrual cycle. I went on and off birth control, talked to about 6 different doctors, and got really fucking overwhelmed. I admit—I sort of shrugged this shit off in favor or keeping my wine, coffee, and ice cream addiction. I DID implement crucial supplements and castor oil packs, and omitted most gluten and dairy products.... and eventually my period back! So fast forward to a few years later, and I think hmmmmm... "At-home hormone test? What a perfect way to check in and see how my lil' ol' body is doing!"
The brand was Everlywell and seemed fairly reliable. (They were on shark tank, after all.) To take the test I needed to send in a blood and spit sample. Cute. I woke up at 6am and took my blood, before I consumed any coffee or water, as the test request. It was nice—early in the morning, with sun melting through the window, all sort of romantic if you forgot the fact that I was giving myself puncture wounds. I also had to spit into a cup for 10 minutes. The time requirement wasn’t a thing, that’s just how long it took me to generate enough spit to spit into a cup.
About a week and a half later, my results came in. I logged in to my Everlywell account, and there they were: levels of TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone), cortisol, and testosterone, each scaled from low, normal, to high, with a bright red being the high. Cortisol and testosterone were both in the red. Like, your first period in white shorts sort of red. I sort of expected this—but to actually see the results was painful. (TSH was fine, as blue as a baby's bonnet, but who really cares about TSC?)
This made sense. I know I move too fast, I know I tend to complicate things. I eat too much sugar and drink too much caffeine and then I beat myself up for drinking too much sugar and caffeine and I get upset over dumb stuff and I hate strangers in traffic for no reason other than the fact that they are in front of me. And for someone who works in the wellness industry, I can sometimes definitely be not very well. My high levels of cortisol, testosterone, and PCOS are all directly connected. PCOS is actually symptom of high testosterone levels, and so hopefully, by lowering that hormone, I should be able to see many of my PCOS symptoms ease up. I have a period, but it’s irregular and the cramps are painful and occur mostly in my lower back. This year I gained weight (very frustrating for someone with a history of eating disorders) and pretty wild anxiety, bought of depression, and mood swings. It’s not weird for me to cry every other day.
Conclusion: I need a break. I need to come back to one of my favorite things (the internet) mixed with one of my other favorite things (writing) and start holding myself accountable to empower this gift of my physical self. Hiiiii. :)
- Sugar. Specifically white sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar.
- Caffeine/coffee. Goodbye, sweet glug-glug of the drip machine, oh how I will miss thee!
- Some fruits. Anything super sugary or high starchy, like bananas or mangoes.
- Alcohol. WHICH IF YOU KNOW ME REALLY SUCKS. I plan on having wine *on occasion*, but for the most part, nope, nada.
- Processed soy. (Fermented soy is okay in small doses)
- Corn, including the pop variety.
- Meat with hormones.
- Proteins. Hormone-free meats and fish.
- Healthy fats. Avocado, almond butters, nuts.
- Probiotics. Kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles. :) :)
- Nuts and seeds.
- High-fiber foods like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.
- Healthy carbs. Sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash will be a staple.
- Lots of greens.
- Herbal teas. I don’t drink much herbal tea, and I really should, seeing as it’s a method of getting some beneficial herbs and supplements without doing much at all.
Supplements (AKA SPACE STUFF)
- Holy Basil
- Medicinal Mushrooms (Reishi and Cordyceps)
- He Sho Wu
- No more HIIT. Apparently raising your heart rate can negatively effect PCOS symptoms and raise cortisol levels. Once I’m more balanced, I’ll begin to reincorporate exercises like SoulCycle and Orange Theory.
- Bike rides
- Therapy. I see therapy as going to the gym for my brain. I love my therapist and I love the handouts she gives me, seeing as my ambitious/type A brain was trained to find satisfaction alongside a worksheet.
- Meditation. I use an app called Simple Habit that I love.
- Outdoors, specifically camping.
- Weed. I don't smoke a lot but I do enjoy a good combo of high CBD with low THC. Too much THC raises cortisol levels but without at least a little THC, you don't feel the relaxing effects of CBD.
Healthy hedonism. Balance. Finding a space to be healthy, be a little bad, and still be myself. Thank you for reading. <3