Mental Health, Nutrition, Wellbeing

Puberty hormones and foods to support them

foods to support skin health

Eating to support puberty

Eventually we reach that age when puberty comes and hits us straight in the face, most times when we’re least expecting it. Puberty stages usually occur between the ages of 10 and 14 for girls and 12 to 16 for boys. We emphasise on the usually, because it is not abnormal if you reach that stage in your life a little earlier or later. We repeat: early puberty or delayed puberty is not something to worry over!

Fret not as there are ways you can help ease the wave of hormones you may experience during your puberty chapter. Food and your relationship with it will play a huge part! In general, we want to limit the processed foods and takeaways. Not because we’re mean, but these foods contain ingredients such as refined sugars and salt that cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation can make it harder to have a smooth ride through puberty.

These foods contain ingredients such as refined sugars and salt that cause inflammation in the body

Reduce the snacks in your diet

We’ve been there and we know about all the good times at the shops after school or during lunch. But think about it, why not skip the chocolate, sweets, fizzy drinks or chicken shop takeaways, save some money, plus have a better grip on your hormones and still hang out with friends?! Wild, we know. And even better, you take control early and remove the unnecessary factors that contribute to mood swings, tummy aches, skin breakouts, bloating and so on.

Obviously, if you get a cheeky craving or you just decide you want to grab that bag of monster munch, then do so! Do not see these foods as a ‘negative’ or a ‘sin’ but instead, try to focus on understanding that your body doesn’t need to consume these foods so regularly; as the food industry has normalised.

We’ll just drop a couple more of those cheeky foods we always used to grab when we were younger; noodle packets, tinned soups, readymade pasta sachets, freezer foods such as breaded meat and vegetables. Yes, they may be easy and quick but aren’t really providing the best nutrition for our bodies.

We’re human – it’s okay to not be perfect

We’ll continue to stress that everyone will have off days. This is a guide to help you on your journey, but by no means should you feel guilty if you don’t stick to it. It’s probably impossible to not sway every now and then. A healthy relationship with food is what we want to achieve and this can only be obtained once you’re aware of how particular foods may affect you in both the physical and mental sense.

It’s also never too late to start! If you’ve started going through changes and you are already experiencing unwanted symptoms such as mood swings and cramps, it doesn’t take long for you to notice improvements once you start making positive changes to your nutrition. We’ve given a couple of tips in the ‘reduce refined sugar and dairy’ section at the bottom of the post to help you with this!

Below are a couple of ways you can adapt your eating habits to help you through this new chapter in your life.

Eat whole foods

So what exactly do we mean by ‘eating whole foods’?

Eating whole foods essentially means natural, unprocessed or unrefined – or as minimally processed as possible – such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables. 

Recipe ideas for whole foods: 


  • classic hummus and veggies, 
  • roasted chickpeas, 
  • egg muffins, 
  • smoothies, 
  • kale crisps, 
  • apples and nut butter

Include cruciferous vegetables

In all meals if possible. Add these in abundance to your meals! Making a smoothie? Chuck a whole bunch of greens in (you can’t taste them we promise)! Or how about making a warming soup?

Cauliflower fluffy and cabbages green … you know how the song goes! Okay maybe not. Think brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, kale or maybe some lighter alternatives like watercress or rocket. There are so many other options, so take a look and test out to see what veg you like!

Cruciferous vegetables contain molecules that help clear excess oestrogen in the body. What does this mean for you? Balanced hormones. A balanced body of hormones leads to a balanced menstrual cycle. And a balanced menstrual cycle can lead to less of all the PMS (premenstrual symptoms) that we all dread; bloating, anxiety, cramps, mood swings, lethargy.

An additional bonus; it is said that an antioxidant and anti-aging compound found in these vegetables can help reduce skin damage and help detoxify the liver. Helping relieve sluggishness, constipation and gassiness.

Try incorporating fermented foods 

For some extra gut loving. Here at Spices&Hay we love love love gut health and believe it plays such an important role – as some say, ‘the gut is the second brain’. Our gut health actually has a rather large impact on our hormone health too. 

Adding in fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut or kefir can all make a beneficial difference to adding additional good bacteria in our daily lives. These foods are a bit out there and are not usually for everyone, they definitely have an acquired taste. If they aren’t your cup of tea, why not add in a daily probiotic instead. We haven’t taken any probiotics before so can’t recommend any personally, but we’ve had a look on the market and asked around for a good probiotic you could potentially invest in

These foods – as well as the veg mentioned above – contain high levels of fibre. Hormones such as oestrogen can build up in your bowels and gut. Eating foods with high fibre can help excrete these as well as balance insulin and blood sugar – keeping you fuller for longer and less likely to snack on the sugary stuff. 

Reduce Refined Sugar and Dairy

It’s important that we stress the ‘refined’. Sugar is not bad, and our bodies do need it. In fact, the natural sugar found in fruit, vegetables and plant-based foods are actually vital for a balanced diet. Refined sugar – not so much. 

  • Both refined sugar and dairy have properties which cause inflammation to grow in the body. As we mentioned before, this inflammation can bring on symptoms of mood swings, anxiety, depression, PMS, stomach/back cramps, tiredness, upset stomach etc. All things that we attribute to our puberty journey. 
  • Dairy also contains natural hormones from the cow and hormone steroids given to cows so they produce more milk for produce. Including oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin. These extra hormones can also add to hormone imbalances in the body. 
  • And for when your willpower isn’t so strong, why not try our cherry bakewell recipe as an alternative for a guilty snack that won’t push your hormones out of whack?!

Doing what you can to reduce these food groups in your diet can change your experience more than we can explain.

Cut out refined sugar

Why not try cutting out refined sugar for a week or so before your period and keeping it up until your period ends to see how you feel? We know this is definitely easier said than done especially because cravings for sugar tend to ramp up a bit before our cycle. We’re not going to leave you in the lurch, don’t worry! Why not try the below alternatives and suggestions to try and help you through.

  • Dark Chocolate – Opt for chocolate above 70%, if you can’t resist and end up reaching for that cheeky chocolate. Chocolate does contain Magnesium which should help curb those sugar cravings during PMS but be careful as to not overindulge. We stress that the higher percentage the better.
    • Other sources of Magnesium that are more nutritious include those leafy greens we mentioned earlier, peanut butter, seeds and nuts. So why nut get cracking on a peanut butter satay stir fry?
  • Complex Carbs – Do not shy away from those carbs. Yes you may feel bloated and heavier, but that doesn’t mean you run away from those foods! Eating these can actually help prevent snacking on those sugary treats later and can ease mood swings too. 
    • P.S. whole grains actually contain vitamins that help fight against our premenstrual symptoms. So get those lentils, rice and grains in you!

Support skin health during puberty

As if all the bloating, stomach cramps, fatigue and so on weren’t enough, skin flare ups also want to join in on the party. For some of us, this can be a big contributor to our mood. We can cover up bloating and cramps with a big jumper and a smile, but our skin is so much more temperamental. 

Add foods that are rich in zinc, omega 3 and magnesium to help provide our cells with the nutrients needed for happy, healthy, glowing skin. Similarly to probiotics, if you feel you aren’t getting these nutrients from your diet, look into supplements. However, we always recommend trying to get these from whole foods first before moving onto vitamins and supplements.

Foods that are good for your skin health

You remember the cruciferous veggies we’ve already tried to adapt into our diet? Well they also contain sulphur, which is an important mineral needed to support healthy skin! They also contain DIM (Diindolylmethane) and it’s this compound, contained in the vegetables, that aids the body in detoxifying excess oestrogen. Having excess oestrogen can bring about acne and contribute to other hormonal issues.

Some other foods that your skin will love:

  • Apricots 
  • Apples
  • Berries 
  • Papaya 
  • Asparagus
  • Celery
  • Garlic

One of our favourite nutritious snacks and the best way to get those antioxidants and vitamins mentioned earlier is berries. Strawberries .. raspberries .. blueberries! Yes, a whole berry bowl. Turns out that these juicy whole foods can be an exceptional natural prebiotic. Add a little raw honey to your berries and boom! You’ve got a delicious powerful bowl of yumminess that nurtures all the good bacteria and microorganisms in your gut!

Learn to understand your body

Once you’re more conscious of what you’re feeding your body with and consequently, what symptoms that brings for you, you’ll be able to make much better decisions to balance your diet and ease those symptoms. We can only give you general advice here as every person is different. Saphron has come to find that eating any form of yeast (as well as dairy) can cause her anxiety, depression and menstrual cramps to appear or noticeably intensify. That does not mean everyone should stop eating bread or their favourite treats. We sharing our experiences to allow you to adjust in your own way and see how it works.

The thing with all of this advice, it really can’t hurt to try it. We unfortunately had to learn these things the hard way, when we were pretty much desperate. So trying to get as much information for people to hopefully see, read and take on board to help them on their journey is everything. 

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