Hormonas, we’re so excited to introduce our newest ambassador, Louise Appelgren! Louise is a dedicated advocate for women’s health and wellness, and an accomplished foodie who shares her love of nourishing cuisine on her Instagram page. We’ll be working closely with her to share Louise’s journey, and to bring you incredible, nutritious recipes. As well as occasionally reminding everyone how important a healthy gut is to your hormones.
HA and Hormona
Now, as you probably know, we’re all about shining a light on hormones, conditions, and things you may not have been aware of, and Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, AKA HA, is one of them. HA is a particular passion for us, partly because it’s smack bang in the middle of our hormone remit, and partly because it affects so many women worldwide.
Essentially, an HA diagnosis means that your periods have stopped, mostly because your Hypothalamus gland has paused your menstrual cycle. The Hypothalamus, buried deep in your brain, is the big boss of your Endocrine system, so whatever it says, goes. And there are a couple of reasons your Hypothalamus might decide to pause your periods.
They’re generally to do with running an energy deficit. If you continually burn more energy than you consume, your body can have a serious reaction. It could go into survival mode, switching off any and all processes that aren’t essential to keeping you alive. And your reproductive system is one of those processes.
How Louise got her cycle back
Louise’s journey with HA began in her teenage years when she found herself struggling with an eating disorder. Through her recovery, Louise, now 28, discovered the transformative power of nutrition. And that eventually helped her regain a healthy weight. However, even when Louise had reached what was considered a “normal” weight, she still faced significant challenges restoring her Menstrual cycle. When doctors recommended the pill as a “solution,” she decided to take a deep dive into the issue herself. And that introduced her to a holistic approach to wellness, including several lifestyle-related changes she wanted to try.
Today, Louise shares her passion for healthy, delicious food with others, showcasing the benefits of different nutrients for hormonal balance and gut health.
Talking hormones, HA, and nourishing recipes
Along the way, we’ll be sharing some insights into Louise’s journey with HA. But you’ll see some delicious breakfast recipes on our Instagram that not only taste great, but also support your body on its journey toward hormone balance. In the meantime, here’s our very first chat with Louise!Why did you want to become an ambassador for Hormona?
Okay, this is an easy first question! I guess the simple answer is that there are very few companies whose values and standpoints align so well with my own as Hormona. Collaborating with a brand that feels like an extension of myself and my own opinions was just a no-brainer!
With that in mind, I feel so grateful for the opportunity, together with Hormona, to contribute to increasing awareness around women’s health, a topic that I think has been overlooked for way too long.
Can you share some of the challenges you faced when dealing with your own issues, and how you overcame them?
I think a major issue for me was, firstly, to realize that I had developed an eating disorder. Looking back, I can’t believe how I couldn’t see what other people saw when they told me I was way too skinny and had to gain weight.
It wasn’t until my mom forced me to seek professional help that I actually understood what I had done to my body. From there, a second challenge involved making the commitment to a living healthy life — with everything that would imply. For instance, I remember, I had a really hard time throwing away clothes that I outgrew as I started to gain weight. It made me anxious, which in turn had me doubting my commitment and the effort I’d been putting in.
Nevertheless, I actually think it was the fact that it took years for my menstrual cycle to return that prevented me from falling back into my eating disorder. For obvious reasons, the absence of my period made me really worried. I became desperate to “make things right again.” In my effort to do that, I turned to the traditional healthcare system, where I encountered my third challenge, namely accessing sufficient knowledge and guidance about my condition.
How did the doctors respond when your period didn’t return?
The only advice I got from gynecologists and doctors was to go on the pill as it was “important to get my menstruation back for the health of my skeleton.” The thing that they forgot to tell me, however, is that the bleeding caused by the pill, of course, is not menstruation, as there’s no ovulation involved. So, after I don’t know how many appointments and meetings with different healthcare practitioners, I saw no other option. I had to start researching both reasons and potential solutions that could help me heal.
That’s partly why I genuinely feel so grateful for companies like Hormona that strive to make information more readily available for women who either experience circumstances similar to mine, or for those who are just looking for a space to educate themselves about their bodies.
What advice would you give to women who are struggling with HA issues or women’s health concerns?
Okay, wow, where should I begin…. Obviously, there’s the general, concrete advice, everything from making sure that you both eat enough and regularly throughout the day, to adding lots of healthy fats to your diet. Also, stop drinking coffee and replace high-intensity workouts with yoga and weight lifting.
Now, while those are some critical tips that helped me regain a functioning menstrual cycle, I would nevertheless say that my number one recommendation for women struggling with HA is to start trusting your own body. Even though I had heard this tip a million times from a million people, it literally took me years to really understand what it meant!
The fact is that HA is your body’s way of telling you that it lacks sufficient resources to prioritize ovulation — and it’ll tell you many times before you realize it yourself. There’s so much to win when we stop ignoring all the little signals our bodies try to send our way. So, check in with yourself more often, eat when you’re hungry, and rest when you’re tired, either physically or mentally.
How did your journey with HA shape your relationship with food and cooking?
More than I ever would have thought. In many ways, I feel blessed for the journey I’ve gone through, as it’s taught me so much. Not only about food and nutrition, but also about my body, mind, and way of life. However, at times, I can’t help but feel envious of those who, for instance, can enjoy their morning coffee without associating it with stress… While I truly love to learn about what foods are better or worse for me, it can also be tough constantly living by everything I’ve learned.
That being said, I think a crucial part of maintaining a healthy relationship with food has, for me, been about letting go of the perfectionist that tends to hide inside many of us. Food should be fun, enjoyable, and delicious. And I genuinely believe that a balance between eating for the mind and for the body makes perfect sense.