Recently I purchased and read The Hormone Reset Diet by Dr Sarah Gottfried. This post isn’t sponsored, it’s just my own review of something I thought would be helpful for me.
A Bit Different Than I thought
I was not really aware that this would be a “diet” book but more an elimination of sorts to see if they body reacted differently when certain types of food are taken out of the daily diet.
The monetary investment is more than the cost of the book
I started reading and then realised there was a lot of tracking to be done besides just calories. The most expensive tracker: a blood glucose device to check your blood sugar levels each morning and throughout the day to see if there were any issues that needed dealing with like hypo or hyperglycemia. Other things needed were a tongue scraper (I still don’t know why except getting rid of bacteria that collect while you sleep, but… isn’t that why I brush my teeth in the morning?), a dry brush (to help the lymphatic system apparently) and ph strips to check your alkaline balance (I did not buy these). There were a couple other items on the list I already had like a blender, food scale, bathroom scale, tape measure and a step tracker. Another item was epsom salts but I don’t have a bathtub so that one was pointless for me.
Seven Eliminations: every 3 days for 21 days
- No Alcohol or Red Meat for the entire 21 days (start Day 1 – 3) estrogen
- Day 4 – 6 No Sugar insulin
- Day 7 -9 No Fruit leptin
- Day 10 – 12 No Caffeine cortisol
- Day 13 – 15 No Grains thyroid
- Day 16 -18 No Dairy growth hormone
- Day 19 – 21 No Toxins testosterone
Day 1 – 3 No Alcohol or Red Meat
This was kind of a no brainer for me. I don’t eat a lot of red meat in the first place and, while I like my adult beverage from time to time, I can certainly go without it. The reasoning behind no red meat in any case is that, in the United States, a lot of commercial meat is pumped full of hormones in order to supply the demand for it and make it affordable for the consumer. Outside of the US there are much stricter regulations and our meat in the EU is simply not full or hormones because it’s not allowed. So, effectively, this elimination was pointless for me. I did it, but there was no effect whatsoever on how I felt during the 21 days.
Day 4 – 6 No sugar
I don’t add a lot of sugar to my food. I eliminated the 1 teaspoon of sugar I used on my grapefruit and I checked ingredients lists in food I regularly buy (like cream cheese and hummus) and bought different brands with no sugar. This wasn’t hard for me. I don’t even add sugar to coffee. Sugar is not added to bread here.
Day 7 – 9 No Fruit
This one I found harder as I do enjoy fruit in my yoghurt, mandarins for a snack or an apple if I’m feeling peckish before lunch or dinner time. Also part of the “no fruit” category was nightshade vegetables apparently. So no tomatoes, no paprika, no eggplant and no chiles (those are the main ones in my diet). I just had to get a bit more creative with my salads and that was fine. If there was any “feeling” I had so far in this diet, it was that I noticed I didn’t get hungry as soon after I finished my salad as when I ate my regular one with tomatoes and paprika. And I had roasted courgette (zucchini) instead of aubergine (eggplant).
Day 10 – 12 No Caffeine
This one I didn’t manage. I cut down to 1 – 2 espressos instead of 2 -4. Which, to be honest, is still not a lot of caffeine if you ask me. I did try but I just could not function. Sad but true.
Day 13 – 15 No Grains
Ok, it already started going pear shaped with no caffeine; I also did not manage grain-free. However, I want to make it clear I already do not eat a lot of grains! I still had them in the morning, but replaced rice with cauliflower rice (more than once in this 21 day reset).
Day 16 -18 No Dairy
Another elimination that I didn’t need to make. I switched ages ago to dairy alternatives. I wish I would have read more about this reset before buying the book. One thing I am going to do in the very near future is quit all dairy. But right now I don’t think the bit of cheese I have on my pasta once a week is messing with my hormones. I think only eggs will be something I would miss a lot. But again, we have different regulations here in Europe, than you do in the US, so dairy production is not full of added hormones and I try to buy animal-friendly products when I can (milk and yoghurt are soy/almond/coconut milk based).
Day 19 – 21 No Toxins
Here’s where Dr Sara totally lost me. Basically she wants you to get rid of any products you have in your home and any personal care items that may have toxins in them that can affect your testosterone. Sorry, Sara. I already bought a blood glucose device including lancets and test strips. I cannot afford to now replace all products in my house that *may* have something in it that affects testosterone levels So yeah. Didn’t do this.
Kind of a Sham
I mean, ok. If you are a complete mess with your diet and you need guidance to get things under control maybethis book will help you. Dr Sara claims that one could lose 15lbs in 21 days. I wasn’t in this for weight loss and I didn’t really lose any weight (I also didn’t follow it to a “T”). There are menu examples in the book that are utterly ridiculous unless you have a lot of extra money (she suggests at some point eating 4 oz of raw oysters for lunch. FOR LUNCH. What planet are you on, Sara?) and/or have nothing better to than collect wild blueberries personally from a local co-op or fly to Alaska to catch your own salmon. She has recipes in the book like Detox Shakes which include MCT oil (which contains Palm Oil – and I’m not down with that!) which seem to contradict her other beliefs about the environmental and physical effects of commercial meat production. If you actually would calculate the calories for her example menus, they would be pretty low-calorie, so sure… you could lose weight if you aren’t eating enough. Not really sustainable.
There are some good things in here which Dr Sara calls “Cell to Soul” practice. It’s about taking the time to get to the heart of what is bringing you stress, how you feel about yourself, your expectations, and the like. So in a way, it’s focusing away from a weight issue and putting more of an accent on mental and emotional well being.
Re-entry after Reset
Dr Sara has a whole section of her book dedicated to re-entry after “resetting” your hormones. My personal opinion is this: you cannot fully reset your body in increments of 3 days at a time. I think your body needs more time to reset, especially if you have a hormone inbalance. Also? If you do have real issues like with blood sugar or your thyroid, it may even take more than food to fix it. My advice? See your GP and have tests done. Insist that they take your concerns seriously. As with any lifestyle change, you need to think about what is sustainable in the long run. Eliminating entire food groups is always a sort of red flag to me; One should be able to do all things in moderation unless you have a true medical issue that determines otherwise.
I learned that I’m not hypo- or hyperglycemic, that dry brushing actually feels good and that maybe eating less nightshades feels better in general. But this “diet” did nothing for me otherwise. I can thank Dr Sara for actually forcing me to dive in further to fixing my what-feels-like-broken system; mostly I need better sleep to produce less cortisol. I’ve moved on to supplements especially for sleep and stress and I think I’ll have better luck with that in the end. I am also going to make an appointment with my GP soon because the menopause thing is a total drag and I think I need some help.
Sorry Sara, but your book/diet is a flop for me.