I am sure many of you are wondering what in the world a “healthy diet” has to do with hormonal therapies and feminization. The answer – Everything!!!
Every day we ingest harmful chemical additives, preservatives, pesticides, etc. with and in our food. We breathe filthy air and drink chemically-saturated water. This severely taxes the liver and other important organs, including the heart and brain. Our bodies are not equipped to handle these toxins, and they end up stored in our body tissues. This storage creates an ongoing health problem that can manifest in many mysterious ways.
In my naturopathic practice, I advocate using as natural a diet as possible. This doesn’t mean that you have to become a vegetarian! It simply means eating natural wholesome foods. Become a label reader. I am sure that after you read the labels on a few of your favorite junk foods that you will be shocked. Most of the ingredients will be difficult if not impossible to pronounce. Most of the ingredients you won’t have a clue as to why they are in your food. And they shouldn’t be there! We were not designed to eat preservatives and artificial colors and flavors. Look a few of them up on the Internet or in books and see what can they are really all about. There is a reason that so many European countries and others ban the addition of these items in their foods.
When you ingest these chemical additives at the same time you are undergoing hormonal therapies, you are adding to the levels of toxins and foreign substances the body must deal with. For example, there is rising evidence that aspartame, aka NutraSweet and other industry buzz names, can contribute to depression, seizures, multiple sclerosis, and a host of documented serious side affects. Imagine coupling that problem with the influx of hormones that you are ingesting with their known side effects. There sits staring at you a potential very early and painful death if ever there was one. Or think of the amounts of chemical preservatives running through your liver. Combine that with synthetic estrogens, and the liver is overwhelmed along with the rest of the body.
There are many documented illnesses, ranging from chronic fatigue to heart disease to Alzheimer’s, all attributed to a poor diet full of today’s “convenience” foods. You can be incredibly overweight and still be very malnourished. You can take herbal or synthetic treatments for diseases and illnesses all day every day, take multivitamins every day, but the overall affects of a consistently poor diet cannot be overcome in this way. The overly-processed foods we ingest each day are devoid of nutritional value, but unfortunately not devoid of high calorie levels. Only changing the way you eat can keep you healthy and prolong your life. With a proper diet, you will discover that you get ill a lot less often, that when you do catch something the illness is not prolonged (such as with colds and flu), that you are better able to maintain your weight, that you have more energy, and you have more sex drive (there, that got your attention, didn’t it?!).
In these years of working with the TG/TS community, my research has shown that those Ladies who follow a healthy diet regimen are sick far less often, have better control over their emotions, have better control over their weight, and find that their hormone regimens, both synthetic and herbal, are much more effective, taking less of the recommended items to achieve good results. It is far easier for a healthy body to maintain hormonal balances. This means that they achieve results faster, experience fewer side effects, and still maintain excellent health, both physical and mental. This type of diet actually enhances any hormone therapy, as the entire body is properly nourished, and a healthy body utilizes the hormones in a much more efficient and effective manner, and it does not have to borrow from other vital systems to build new tissues.
So what can you do? Learn to eat in a manner that nourishes your body. Learn what foods contain the nutrients your body needs. Learn to feed the body what it craves in a healthy manner. Learn to eat the foods that don’t clash with your hormonal therapies. I am sure most of you are very familiar with the special problems that feminizing can create for your health. Eating well and properly can significantly decrease these problems and their potential for permanent harm.
I recommend eating as close to a natural diet as possible. This means cutting out all junk foods, soft drinks, processed foods, fried foods, white sugar, etc. You and your body don’t need to deal with the incredible amounts of crud in those items. And you will be surprised how much better you feel, how much more energy you will have, after this simple act of removal. If you are married, have a family, live with a significant other, etc. enlist their aid in moving to a better diet. Everyone in your life will benefit from these basic guidelines.
You should be eating a diet high in fiber, low in saturated fat, and low in refined sugars (preferably removing them completely! They have no nutritional value, and add only calories to the body). Sweeten your drinks and foods with honey (which has a tremendous amount of positive benefits for health in its own right) or stevia instead. Eat foods every day that are high in vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients protect the liver, heart, brain, and other organs from free radical damage. Limit your caffeine intake, or stop using it altogether. Limit red meats (have you seen the crap that goes into cattle feed?!), and add fresh fish to your diet at least twice per week.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly dark leafy greens, whole grains, and legumes. Pay attention to getting enough calcium in your diet to promote healthy bones and teeth, by eating fresh yogurt, drinking milk (preferably organic), eating natural (not processed!) cheese. For those of you who are lactose-intolerant, you owe it to yourself to give whole goat milk a try. Many people who are diagnosed as lactose-intolerant find they have no problems when drinking whole goat milk, and it is much better for you than the processed bovine milk. If you are totally intolerant, or are avoiding dairy for health or belief issues, I would suggest using a natural multivitamin every day, along with a liquid calcium supplement, to ensure proper assimilation by the body.
When you make your salads, ladies, do steer away from using iceberg lettuce. There is very little nutritional value in iceberg. Instead, use dark lettuces such as green leaf, romaine, and escarole, toss in some things like spinach or radicchio, and for a flavorful treat, try adding some fresh herbs, such as parsley, dill, cilantro, etc. You’ll be increasing your nutrient intake while getting a pleasant change of taste. And simple herbal vinegars beat the pants off of many of those fattening salad dressings. It is really easy, and a lot of fun, to make your own.
There are great health benefits to lowering your animal protein intake. Most Americans eat far more meat than is necessary for a healthy diet. Too much animal protein is rough on the digestive system, as well as rough on the waistline and the cholesterol levels. Try shrinking your portions, and making up the difference with foods that add bulk, such as whole grains. But do realize that the body needs a certain amount of the enzymes, amino acids, and nutrients that you can only obtain from real meats. Substitute a bean dish for meat at least once a week. Substitute tofu or other soy products (Hey! Soybean is a phytoestrogen!) for meat at least once per week.
Maintain intestinal and colon health by adding fresh yogurt to your diet weekly. Be sure to purchase yogurt that states on the label contains “live active culture”. If you just can’t handle yogurt, then a once per week dose of acidophilus and/ or lactobacillus will do the same job. If you experience an illness that requires you to use prescription or herbal antibiotics, you should use yogurt or acidophilus/lactobacillus for at least a week afterwards to rebuild the levels of “good” bacteria that aid in proper digestion and assimilation.
When you buy fruit or vegetable juices, read the label! You will be shocked at how many popular juices on the market today contain high fructose corn syrup, and far less actual real juice than you realize. Drink healthy herbal teas instead of soft drinks.
One major chemical additive to be aware of is Monosodium Glutamate, also known as MSG. This additive is supposed to be a flavor enhancer. What it actually does is break down in the body and triggers the brain to eat more….there is a reason why you can’t eat just one! And in many individuals, it can also trigger weight gain. I cut this additive out of my family’s meals by carefully reading the labels of all foods I normally purchased, eliminating the offenders (and some of the offenders were quite surprising!), and everybody in my family lost 5 pounds in the first few weeks! So it really does make a difference. You probably won’t be able to eliminate all MSG from your diet, unless you go completely natural, as many items utilize MSG and do not by law have to state so on the label. Two of the biggest offenders are Chinese food (ask them to leave it out, or find a restaurant that doesn’t use it) and things like smoke flavorings.
Weight loss is the number two item TG’s who come to me are concerned about overall. A natural diet can help with this. But always keep in mind that “natural” does not equate to “low calorie”. Following a natural diet will indeed keep you healthier, and not loading up on too many carbohydrates will help keep calorie count low. If your weight is a problem, try splitting your meals into several smaller ones, rather than two or three big ones. This curbs the appetite, spreads out digestion, and keeps you from having that “heavy” feeling you get after sitting down to a large meal. Make your larger meals around noontime, rather than evening, when digestion and metabolism are slower.
Keep your snacks light and healthy. Raw fruits and veggies, naturally flavored rice cakes, unbuttered popcorn, etc. don’t add a lot to your calorie count and are bulky enough to curb the appetite. If you still have a lot of problems with weight after implementing these sorts of changes, have your thyroid levels checked, as hypothyroidism can considerably slow metabolism. There are natural ways of raising your metabolic rate, kelp and chickweed being two of the best coupled with daily exercise.
More In Depth – Specifics for the Feminization Process
Let’s start with one of the big problems, caffeine. Caffeine can cause breast tenderness and pain – a serious problem for developing and developed breast tissue. It has been shown to be a contributor to fibrocystic breast disease. It has been shown in studies to be carcinogenic in high levels over time. Caffeine does significantly raise blood pressure and anxiety levels. This causes a strain on the heart, liver, and most especially the kidneys and adrenal glands. Add this to the fact that synthetic estrogens are known to raise blood pressure, and some herbs can raise blood pressure over time, and you have a powder keg with a short fuse. Caffeine has also been shown to leach valuable nutrients from the body. It overstimulates the adrenal glands, causing problems with adrenal failure later in life. There is even a clinical syndrome called “caffeinism”, which is a syndrome that includes general anxiety and panic, recurring headaches, irritability, heart palpitations, excessive nervousness, and even depression. If you are under a lot of stress, you are especially prone to the negative effects of caffeine intake. Long-term use has also been shown to alter the brain’s chemistry.
The idea here is safety and health first. If you must drink coffee, drink decaffeinated (although if you suffer from high cholesterol you should avoid all forms of coffee completely!). Good replacements for caffeine drinks are fresh water (something the TG needs plenty of to keep the skin hydrated and glowing!), fresh real vegetable and fruit juices, and I would like to suggest a very healthy alternative in decaf green tea. The health benefits of this drink are well documented, showing it helps to reduce blood pressure, increase oxygenation of the cells, and it has some anti-tumor and antimicrobial properties as well.
Those of you feminizing will want to pay some attention to your calcium levels. A calcium supplement generally is not recommended unless you are on a strict vegetarian diet. Too much calcium in the body is just as bad as not enough. Too much can cause kidney stones, gall stones, calcium deposits in joints and around the heart, etc. Not enough can cause problems with assimilating other nutrients, muscle cramping, gum disease, blood pressure, osteoporosis, and other difficulties. You can safely and effectively obtain all you need through eating the proper foods. This doesn’t just mean milk and dairy products, by the way. Calcium is also found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, as well as sardines, seafood, almonds, cabbage, dandelion greens, oats, tofu, yogurt, broccoli, and many other vegetables, and even in herbs that you will be using such as alfalfa, burdock, dandelion, kelp, nettle, peppermint, red clover, rose hips, and others. Make sure you get enough calcium, but don’t overdo. If you need a calcium supplement, stay away from Tums, and look to a liquid supplement as it is much better assimilated by the body than tablet forms.
If you are taking synthetic hormones, synthetic diuretics, or using licorice or black cohosh, you will want to be sure to get enough foods that are high in potassium. These items tend to leach potassium from the body when taken over a long period of time. Good sources include fish, fruits, legumes (beans), whole grains, bananas, apricots, avocados, brown rice, garlic, nuts, raisins, yams, and many other foods, and in herbs including catnip, nettle, red clover, sage, and several others. Low potassium levels can cause an interruption in blood pressure stability, dry skin, acne, diarrhea, thirst, high cholesterol levels, insomnia, muscle cramps, and other negative effects on the body.
Lowering fat intake while feminizing is important to help the liver and to help prevent unnecessary weight gain. Estrogens trigger the body to store fats, the purpose for this is preparing the female body for potential hard times during pregnancy. Not something most of you need to ever be concerned about! In the meantime, lowering fat intake will help your liver function better, as it doesn’t have to struggle to try to process extra fats the body really doesn’t need, and the known benefits to colon, heart and circulation make it an important consideration when utilizing hormone therapies.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you must strive to eliminate all fat from your diet – the body actually needs a certain amount of dietary fats to be able to function properly, especially when building and maintaining new tissues as you will be doing. The best approach is to limit, not eliminate, fat intake from animal meats, dairy, vegetable shortening, and coconut oil (all of which raise LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol levels). Balance with the use of polyunsaturated fats, found in corn, soybean, and sunflower oils (which too much of can lower your HDL, or “good” cholesterol), and monounsaturated fats such as olive oil (which can lower your LDL levels), for a good balance to the body’s needs. Avoid fried foods to limit unhealthy fats, and use olive oils in your stir fry recipes and dressings.
Adding foods made with fresh garlic, and foods that contain whole oats and other whole grains such as brown rice, can lower and maintain your cholesterol in a natural, healthy way. Other foods that help naturally lower cholesterol include apples, bananas, carrots, beans, grapefruit, olive oil, fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. It is a well-known fact that many steroids, oral estrogens, and diuretics cause negative changes in the body’s cholesterol levels, so do yourself a big favor by paying extra attention to your diet if you are utilizing these items.
There are many excellent books out there dealing with the benefits of a healthy diet. Get yourself to a health food store or book store and start browsing. You’ll be surprised to find how many common illnesses can be controlled or eliminated with a healthy eating regimen! I have cleared up many mysterious ailments amongst my patients with a simple change in diet.
Balking at giving up all of your favorite “junk” foods? Compromise! If you eat a basically healthy diet, the occasional pizza or doughnut or hamburger is okay. It is important to always keep these treats in moderation, however, to avoid canceling out the effects of eating well. Pick one day a week to have one meal of your favorite garbage food. Make sure you eat healthy before and after, though! You can do the same with a favorite sweet treat. Pick one day to have a decadent treat or dessert. This way you aren’t depriving yourself of your favorites, but you aren’t damaging yourself by eating it every day. You will be surprised, however, after you have been on a healthy diet for a while, the odd affects (most of them undesirable!) these foods may have on your system, so do be careful and watch those portions!
And of course, there is always exercise. Exercise is vitally important to the overall health of the body, and vitally important to eliminating excess calories. You should be doing some form of exercise each and every day. You don’t need to join the local gym to get exercise. A simple brisk walk every day after some warm-up stretching exercises is a good place to start.
Exercise helps the body eliminate accumulated toxins, energizes your body overall, releases endorphins that can help ease depression, increases healthy circulation of the blood through your vital organs, and of course helps you to burn off those excess calories to maintain that feminine figure you are working so hard to achieve! Do start off simple if you have been sedentary for a while, and work your way up to a more vigorous routine slowly and steadily, to avoid a nasty shock to the system (and a lot of very sore muscles!). You may wish to view some exercise videos or shows that have exercises just for women, to help you maintain your feminine figure in a natural way. While many of you balk at exercise, afraid it will keep your muscle mass too masculine, you need to realize that it is unhealthy to be sedentary, and you will feel much better with some strength maintaining exercises. A flabby Lady is not a desirable one, and neither is someone who is too weak to open a car door. All things in moderation – trade in the Olympic weightlifting set for a good exercise bike or ski machine. You’ll be much happier with your results, and you will be ahead of the curves, so to speak.
If you have specific health concerns or joint problems you may wish to consult with a specialist prior to beginning an exercise regimen to determine low-impact exercises that will be more beneficial to your specific needs.
Following these guidelines will get you started on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Soon it will become a good habit rather than a chore. Most of my patients notice a change in their energy levels for the better within a week or two. Most also experience an increase in sexual desire and function, as well as a much lower incidence of illness. One day in the not too distant future, you will wonder how you ever functioned while eating all that junk! Just making these simple changes can often trigger some weight loss as well, and keeping these changes as habit makes it far easier to maintain healthy weight levels and an overall healthy mental attitude.
Rev. Dr. EarthAngel
The Herbal Encyclopedia
Benevolent Member of The Sissify Staff
Copyright 1998-2005 by Rev. Dr. EarthAngel, ND, DD · All rights reserved