Updated: Jul 6
Guess what, ladies? Good news!
You can eat more.
You should probably eat more!
According to one of my favorite, most insightful naturopaths, Dr. Lara Briden, the average active woman should eat between 2,000 and 2,300 calories a day.
I wholeheartedly agree with her. Let's consider why this may be the case:
1) Your body was created to grow human beings.
The Lord wisely gave women the capacity for a bit of fat stores. And then He told us to "be fruitful and multiply". We use this bit of fat to make other little people. And then we feed these people- from our own bodies! My dear doula friend recently shared with me something that she tells her new mommy clients: "if you were a baby, would you want to snuggle with a Barbie doll?"
If you are not having a period or if you are having trouble conceiving, the answer may not lie with Clomid. The answer may lie with some buttered sweet potatoes and some ribeye. Obviously, I realize it is not always this simple, but for some women, it may be.
2) Your body was created to enjoy sex.
Our Creator Lord also created sex. He decreed that it should be enjoyable. Like, really enjoyable. If your libido is tanked, how are you going to have sex? And if you aren't having sex, how are you going to have an orgasm? And if you aren't having orgasms, how are you going to release oxytocin? And if you aren't releasing oxytocin, how are you going to feel close to your husband? And to your kids? Oxytocin is the chemical hormone that allows us to bond to others. Having good sex enhances your enjoyment of all relationships in your life.
If you are not eating enough food, you certainly won't be making a sufficient amount of sex hormones. I keep seeing women with no measurable testosterone. And excessive amounts of estrogen. And very little progesterone. This is a sex nightmare, ladies!
3) Your body was created to nurture other humans.
Like it or not, women are nurturing by nature. Women possess a nature that "draws others in". If dad is gone from the home, the children may get curious as to where he is. If mom is gone from the home, the children have a pit in their stomachs until she returns. Do you see this phenomenon in your own life? Did you experience it as a child? There is something about a woman that makes others feel safe and cared for. I tell my children that if they ever get lost, they are to find a mommy immediately and stay with her until we are reunited. Even if you are not a mother, you are created to be nurturing.
If you are not eating enough, you are likely a bitch most of the time. Since I am not your husband I can say this to you. I was looking for a nicer term. There is not one. I put this point out there lovingly, having suffered from bitchness myself for many years. (And still working on it: #prayerandsupplements).
I know this: if I am obsessed with my diet, my exercise, my body, and my weight, I am idolizing myself. And everyone else suffers. I am not good enough, so no one else is good enough. I hate it when my husband points this out to me.
How can we nurture other humans if we are obsessed with self? Restricting calories and obsessing over diet makes you uptight and angry. It decreases serotonin and increases cortisol. When you eat properly, and enough, you have more balance. More peace, more freedom from the chains of diet. Diet is an pitiful dungeon to be in.
4) Your body was created to have healthy skin, hair, and bones.
You are a woman, and your birthright is womanhood. Sensuality, beauty, softness. You are not a man, and you are not a child. You look different and behave differently. You should have hips. Boobs. A bootie. Please stop reading right now and find your husband. Ask him if he would rather have a skinny wife with no hips or boobs. Or a happy, kind, vivacious wife with something to grab onto.
If you are dieting excessively and exercising like it is your job, you create a stress response in your body that takes energy away from all of the unnecessary things in life. Like growing hair. And keeping boobs. And supporting supple skin. And strengthening bones.
5) Your body was created to move vibrantly throughout the day.
Women need energy to get through each day. We have hard jobs. We cook, clean, bear, breastfeed, care for, drive, counsel, and perform many other jobs inside and outside of the home. You body is also meant to get an accrued amount of movement each day- non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT. NEAT refers to activities like walking around, and performing simple and compound exercises in the course of one's day. We should even be able to exercise intelligently.
If you are so tired that you can't get out of bed, or you need a long nap each day, or you hit a wall every day at 3 pm, you may want to look at the quantity and quality of your food. Are you eating enough? Are you compulsively exercising all of your calories away?
I love my FitBit for the visual it gives my clients. I will sit with a client at 10 am and show her my FitBit. I have moved my workouts to the afternoon, so my mornings now consist of reading my Bible, cleaning a bit, cooking, and getting my kids ready for school. Moving around like this- a little, but not too much- burns about 800 calories by 10am! Don't believe me? Try it for yourself.
Your body burns an incredible amount of calories just by being alive. Yay! By the time you go to bed, you have burned about 2200 calories. So if you are eating a measly 1500, you can't support your body's need for fuel. Therefore, it is no surprise that you get grumpy and your hair starts falling out and you lose interest in your kids and husband. I have been there. It kind of stinks.
And if you continue to eat less calories than your body needs for fuel, you
This is where things really get sad. Compounded calorie restriction cannot go on forever. Your body sees this as starvation and shuts down all other processes that are not essential for life.
But here is the good news:
You can eat probably eat more! Aim for about 2000 calories a day. Maybe a bit more, maybe a bit less. Don't eat more on days you work out, and don't eat less on days you don't.
Think about it this way: you should, metabolically speaking, eat the maximum amount of calories possible for your age and bodyweight. If you dip too low, your metabolism will slow down. And then you will gain weight. And then where will you go?
If you are worried about going off of the deep end, I have a simple algorithm for you:
PROTEIN + FAT + FIBER + GREENS.
Stick to whole and unprocessed foods. Eat fruit. Even bananas. Enjoy whole fats. Meat!
Try this for a few weeks and see how you feel.
Or join our January reset. Contact me to get on the presale list. For 28 days, you will get a detailed plan of how to care for your body, mind, and soul. I will take the guesswork out for you. We will have live, private Facebook lectures on diet, hormones, exercise, and supplements. You will have meals, supplement, and exercise schedules set for you. You will have access to a live Facebook group to bond with me and your new tribe over all things health. Together, we will work on all aspects of your health journey. True health is holistic. It is not just reducing calories and exercising more. Enjoy all of the things.