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Ep. 7 | Balancing Blood Sugar and Hormones with Christine Forsythe, RD

blood sugar faith gut health hormones nutrition pcos wellness Feb 21, 2024

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In this episode, the show features Christine, a registered dietitian and entrepreneur with a past in health and fitness. She shares her experience of struggling with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and how this journey has shaped her approach to nutrition and wellness. Christine emphasizes the importance of blood sugar control for overall well-being and discusses some key misconceptions in her field. The episode also explores the significance of morning routines, the role of exercise and stress on health, and the factors that shape relationships with food. Allison underscores the importance of personalized wellness coaching in obtaining holistic health.


00:04 Introduction to the Podcast

01:34 Meet the Guest: Christine's Journey

02:25 Christine's Health Struggles and Diagnosis

07:16 Taking Control of Health: Christine's Approach

09:55 Christine's Work as a Dietitian

13:32 Common Misconceptions in Nutrition

14:57 Christine's Morning Routine

17:09 Working with Clients: Christine's Approach

19:17 Importance of Blood Sugar Balance

20:42 Christine's Healthy Living Workbook

21:43 Conclusion and Final Thoughts


Allison: Hey, Christine, I am pumped to have you today here on the podcast. This is going to be a good one. How are you doing?


Christine: I'm doing so well. Thank you so much for having me. Excited to be here. 


Allison: Awesome. Well, for those of you not familiar with Christine, she is a friend of mine who I met about a year ago through mutual friends. And she is a registered dietitian by profession, but she's really a jack of all trades. She's an entrepreneur who thrives in helping clients create the healthy lifestyle of their dreams. In addition to working as a dietician, she's a group fitness instructor, a food stylist, a fitness model, and a professional chocolate lover! I'm so happy to have you here, Christine, I just think that you are so cool and full of so much wisdom in the health realm.

I know that you have a journey of your own that got you into what you're doing now. I would love for you to tell our audience about that and your story.


Christine: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, my journey, when it comes to health and fitness has been honestly a little bit of a roller coaster. I feel like I've had all the ups, all of the downs for sure. But I think all those different things have led me to where I am today, which I'm so thankful for. I grew up in a family that was very health-focused. My mom is a nurse, my dad is a doctor, my sister is also now a doctor as well. So very much like in the health of things, but a little bit more kind of on the Western medicine side. So I wouldn't necessarily say, like health from like an internal perspective was like the biggest thing, but we were conscious of, you know, trying to eat at home as often as we could.


My mom was a little bit more on the conscious side of things. She was actually the one that taught me how to read a nutrition facts label. So she had a lot more knowledge and understanding than I would say the average American, especially the standard American and the Standard American Diet (“SAD DIET”). So we're definitely a little bit more on the positive end of things when it comes to that.


But I started struggling with my own health, I would say probably when I was in high school. I was a very late bloomer when it comes to development, especially in the hormonal perspective. I actually didn't get my first menstrual period until I was a freshman in college, which is very abnormal.


You know, my friends were getting their periods in middle school, you know, early in the high school, and I was like, man, what is happening? And all the doctors that I saw. saw, we're just like, “You're fine. You're lean. You're an athlete. You work out a lot. It's probably just your body fat percentage. Maybe you should eat a little bit more.”


Allison: I just want to point out to you that this is so common. I hear this from so many different women that started their cycles later compared to their peers– especially being an athlete I think that it's just important to point that out because a lot of people, either don't talk about it because whenever they were that age, it was too embarrassing or they think that they're the only ones that ever dealt with something like that. 


Christine: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think part of it probably was that, but also too, if you would have seen how much I ate on a day to day basis, it's like I ate a lot of food! And so it's not that I was under eating. It's not that I wasn't fueling my body. I probably ate double the amount that my whole family did, especially when I was a gymnast, when I was in soccer, like I could just plow through it. So, I knew that it wasn't that, but there was kind of something else that was going on.


And so whenever I was in college, that's when I started to go to different doctors. I went to specialists. I went to a fertility doctor, OBGYNs, primary care physicians, you know, kind of all the different things. And pretty much the answer that I got across the board was, “Well, we don't really know what's going on.. So let's put you on birth control to regulate your cycle..”...which now, looking back is so frustrating to me because I'm like, that's the opposite of what it did! You know, birth control, if you don't know, it doesn't necessarily regulate your cycle. It actually suppresses the hormones that you have, to give you the illusion of having a normal period.


Allison: Whenever you decided to reach out, you were in college, you were studying to be a dietitian– learning about the human body and all of these things– and assessing your own life and seeing it. Is that what led you to wanting to reach out to different providers and specialists?


Christine: My anxiety was actually getting pretty bad because one of my biggest dreams and one of my biggest goals is to be a mom. And when I was in college and I still didn't have my period, I was like, Oh my gosh, like there's something wrong with me. And so it wasn't even from what I was learning in school, it was more so like, oh my gosh, what if I can't have kids one day? This is really important to me. And even though, you know, a lot of people and a lot of friends that I would talk to, they're like, oh my gosh, what a blessing it is that you don't have to deal with this every month. And I was like, I can see that like in a way, but also to, I want to be a mom and that's my biggest goal and that's my biggest dream in life. And so my anxiety was getting really bad that there might have been something else that was going on. So I would say that would be the biggest thing that kind of prompted me to go down that route.


Allison: Oh, wow. Well, I'm really glad that I asked you that question because a lot of my listeners are moms and maybe have struggled with infertility and irregular cycles and just seeing somebody be proactive about their health in that regard is just really refreshing. I'm sure that so many people can relate to that. So all these doctors just put you on birth control? 


Christine: Yeah. They put me on birth control and it was actually quite a long journey for me to actually get the diagnosis of my condition, which is polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS for short, which a lot of people know it as. I wasn't diagnosed until after I graduated from college.It was kind of like a four to five year journey of figuring out what was going on. And, you know, the first time I got on birth control, it was horrible. I was massively depressed. My parents and my sister would have to call me every day just to make sure that I was okay. I was on it for three months and that was what the doctor had recommended. And then I came off to see if my cycle would come. And of course it didn't because we weren't addressing the root cause. I was a little bit scarred from birth control, but whenever I went to the fertility specialist, they had recommended that I go back on birth control. I did it for a month and my symptoms were even worse. And so I said, I'm not going to do this. This is not the route for me. That's when I started to decide to kind of take my health into my own hands. 


Allison: Gotcha. Did they keep putting you on the same birth control every time?


Christine: No, we tried a couple of different ones.


Allison: Yeah. Even that is just reintroducing different chemicals, whether it's synthetic or natural chemicals into your body during the midst of all this! So, you decided to take your health in your own hands. What did that look like for you?  


Christine: I started just kind of doing a lot of different research and you know, I was my own guinea pig. I tried a lot of different supplements. I tried different types of workouts. I tried different types of foods and it honestly took a couple of years until I discovered the power that food could have over my symptoms. And so I remember, I'm kind of going down the path of, okay, what is it going to look like to balance my blood sugar levels? What if I eat a little bit higher in fat? What if I eat enough protein for my body? And that's when I started to see changes. Is not necessarily the foods that I was choosing, but the composition of the meals that I was having. I won't even say that I was eating more or less. I was just changing the composition of the foods that I was consuming and that's when I started to see the biggest changes in my body.  


Allison: Yeah, I love that. I think it's so important to mention you were going to school for this to learn about being a dietitian. So you were educated in this. It wasn't necessarily a couple of years, until you took your health into your own hands. I mean, this was a bunch of knowledge and research that you had on the back end. A lot of moms, a lot of women are not going to school for dietitians, maybe they're stay at home moms, maybe they haven't researched this stuff and they're going through something similar. Sometimes being your own guinea pig and trying to figure it out yourself takes so much longer. I think that some of us who have experienced health issues and been on our own journey, that's one reason, I think, why we like to reach out to people and be like, you know, you don't have to do this alone. We want to tell other people our story. Walking in the dark, sometimes you can find your way out, but there's a lot that goes into it, right? 


I love how you talked about the different compositions of your food. I think so many times, whether you are dealing with PCOS or hormonal imbalances, people think, oh, I just need to cut back or portion control– and, while that might be one factor, I think definitely focusing on, the macros and the different components of each is huge. I know I've noticed a difference just with myself really focusing on that. I think that that's all valuable information. 


Now that you have found this answer, you started working with yourself, you were at your own guinea pig and you found a healing through all of that– what was it that really made you want to do this with other people?  


Christine: Yeah, I would say that because I have my own story when it comes to health, fitness, nutrition, all those different things, not only can I sympathize with people, I think I'm a very sympathetic person, but I can also empathize because I've been there myself. I've been in their shoes. And, you know, especially PCOS. It's kind of something that we don't know a lot about. You know, even doctors that you talk to, they're like, “We don't really know the cause. We don't really know where it comes from. There's no clear answer.” And so I was like, well, I think I have a pretty good idea, maybe not of where it comes from, but at least what we can do to help heal and to help kind of regulate your symptoms or at least put that condition into remission, which is what I believe that I'm in now. Like, I don't have the different symptoms. I have a regular menstrual cycle. My hormonal acne has disappeared, which is something that doctors said couldn't happen. And so I know that I'm living proof that the things that you do in your daily life, whether it be nutrition, exercise, stress is huge.


Stress is a big one; lifestyle habits, all those different things like those matter when it comes to your overall health. And so if I have this knowledge, I can't just keep it to myself. I need to share it with other people, especially other women who are struggling with the same things that I did for years.   


Allison: Yeah. So for you working on your stress, your nutrition– these were all really important factors that made a difference with your health– and you gained changes from. For any of the other women listening out there today that are struggling with PCOS, are there any other tips or any advice that you would give them? 


Christine: Yeah, absolutely. I would say one of the biggest ones that I changed for myself was my workouts because even though working out is so beneficial for your body, it can be a stressor in and of itself. And so I was doing spin classes, I was doing HIIT classes, I was doing all the cardio, all the high intensity. And with polycystic ovarian syndrome, it's a hormonal imbalance and cortisol is a stress hormone. And so that can kind of play a role in messing with some of your other hormones as well.


So pulling back on some of the high intensity exercise and going a little bit more, not even low resistance, but low impact. So resistance training, weightlifting, things like yoga, pilates, something that's just a little bit more calm, a little bit more centered for the body instead of this, WOW, LET’S GO, LET’S HIT IT HARD!-- Which I love, which is really, really hard because I want to do those types of workouts. And so even though, you know, that's what I want to do, it's not the best for my body. And so I kind of had to make some changes in that regard. And now sometimes I can do the occasional spin class and the occasional HIIT class and I'm okay, but it's because I've gone through that healing.


So, I would say one of the biggest things that I change would be my exercise routines, secondly nutrition, those kind of almost go hand in hand. But I would say the biggest change that I made that was really beneficial was toning things down. Because I think especially when you're in this place of not having the health that you want, you want to do more and you want to work harder and that's exactly what I was doing and it was almost pushing me in the opposite direction.


Working out more, eating less was actually not the answer that my body needed. 


Allison: Yeah. I love that you pointed that out as well, because I think that women in general, we think about, “Oh, it's the new year, we want to work out, we want to get better, we want our hormones in balance, we want to lose weight.” For some reason, our minds jump to cardio and hardcore workouts. I know mine did for a long time, but I also was not at the best place in my health at the time, nor was I really working out a lot.  I think that that's just kind of a misconception that we get.

So I have to ask, Christine, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that you hear whenever people start working with you?


Christine: I would say one of the biggest things that I hear from people, which may not even necessarily be kind of about my industry, but I think about dietitians in particular, is that we're going to be really judgmental. I think a lot of times people are apprehensive at asking for help because they're like, “oh my gosh, I don't want you to judge me for what I eat! You know, I know that what I'm doing probably isn't the best, but I, you know, I want help, but I just don't want you to judge me!” And what I tell people is, I'm not here to judge anybody. If you work with me as a client, I want to be your biggest cheerleader and your biggest advocate. Now there may be instances where I pull you higher and I say, Hey, you can do better. Like we need to kind of change some of these different things, but I'm never going to judge you, right? I've been in your shoes and I've been in that position where sometimes you just don't know. Where also too, ometimes you're just tired and you don't care and sometimes that's okay! But I think it's realizing some of those different things and still being willing to ask for help is the biggest thing. So we're not judging you. We truly are here to help you. I would say that that's kind of the biggest misconception that I hear from a lot of people. 


Allison: Wow, yeah, I can understand that. l also want to point out, I love how you said to call higher instead of call out, because it just demonstrates that, we're here to teach each other how to level up and level up ourselves– we know that you can do better and you should know that you can do better. It's not calling them out in a negative way. 

So Christine, what do you do when you start your day as a dietitian? 


Christine: Yeah. Yeah. Gosh, I am in love with my morning routine. It's not super extravagant. It's pretty simple, but it's something that allows me to start my day on the right foot and if I don't have my morning routine, then the rest of my day feels a little bit off kilter. So whenever I wake up, I'm very good about waking up to my alarm. That's not a brag, but I know if I hit snooze, it's not good for the rest of the day. I feel off. I feel groggy. So whenever my alarm goes off, I have to get up out of bed. I literally put my phone across the room so that once I'm out of bed, I'm like, well, I'm already out of bed. I may as well kind of go get ready. So, you know, I go to the bathroom. I brush my teeth and I scrape my tongue. I don't know if you've heard about this trend that's kind of going around. It is the biggest change that I have made for my oral health, and it is something that I cannot live without. Whenever you're sleeping, your body is detoxing from a lot of different things and some of those different toxins can end up in your mouth and on your tongue. If you're just brushing your teeth, but you're not also cleaning your tongue, then you can be kind of reingesting some of those different toxins. So that's a big switch that I've made recently that takes literally 10 or 15 seconds. I do like two to three sweeps from the back to the front. Whenever I went home for Christmas, I forgot my tongue scraper. I literally went out and bought one because it's that important to me. So that's one of the biggest things that I do that's made a massive change.


And then I will go and do my Bible study. So I spend 45 minutes to an hour with the Lord. That is something for me personally, that is massive. If I don't start my day with quiet and with calm, the rest of my day doesn't work. So I try to finish a full Stanley cup of water before I have my coffee to make sure that I'm not having that coffee on an empty stomach. As I'm doing my Bible study, I'm drinking (more like guzzling down) my water so I can have my coffee. I'll have my coffee and then I'll kind of get to my day. So my morning routine is pretty simple, but it's really important to me because it helps to start my day on the right foot.


Allison: Starting your day off in the Word (my favorite Bible is linked here) and with a cup of coffee (after you drink your water!) is just, yeah, that's just the icing on the cake too! I love that. So what do you do exactly with your clients now? Say I was looking for some help with nutrition and I reached out to you. What does that look like exactly?


Christine: Yeah, absolutely. To be honest, every client is different. I see a lot of women with different issues that they're having. I would say a common theme is PCOS. I see a lot of PCOS. I also see a lot of women that have an altered relationship with food. So, you know, in the past, maybe they struggled with restriction or overeating. We work on rearranging their relationship when it comes to food and instead of viewing food as something that's good or bad, we look at food as fuel– and if you don't fuel your body the best, you're not going to feel the best, just like a car. If you're putting in the lowest grade fuel, it's going to run out quick.


You're not going to be able to go as far versus if you get the high grade fuel, you're going to be able to go a lot farther, even though it may be a little bit more of an investment in that initial phase, it's going to last you so much longer. The minimum amount of time that I work with clients is about three months because if you think about some of the issues that you might be dealing with, it didn't happen overnight.


We're also not going to be able to fix those things overnight either. And I actually work with a lot of my clients a lot longer than that three month mark, because once we get to that place, they're like, “Gosh, I feel like I've started to make so many good changes, but I'm not done yet and I'm not ready.”


And so then we continue to work together until they say, “You know what, Christine, you have taught me so much. I think I'm ready to go at it alone.” And I always tell my clients, whenever we first get started, like the biggest compliment that you can give to me is say, hey, I think I'm good to go off on my own now, because that means that I've educated you and I've given you the knowledge on how to care for and love your body the best. That's my ultimate goal is to get my clients to a place where they don't need me anymore. 


Allison: Yeah, that's awesome. I love that–how they can come to you for so many different things though too but it all kind of ties back to the same thing and how you love your body and treat your body. Is there anything else, Christine, that you just really feel led to let other women out there know about your journey or about what you do? 


Christine: I would say that my biggest passion when it comes to health, fitness and nutrition is blood sugar balance. It is the biggest thing that I talk about with every single one of my clients, regardless of what they come to me for. If it's hormonal imbalances, if it's weight loss, if it's just wanting to feel better and have more energy– blood sugar balance. It's the biggest thing across the board, male and female, that I see a lot of people really struggle with. I would say the biggest thing that I like to focus on with people is getting really clear on their nutrition and understanding, kind of circling back to what I talked about a little bit before is the composition of your meals. I think so often, especially with social media and the internet, there are certain food groups that are villainized. And it's like, this food is bad. No, this food is bad. No, this food is gonna, you know, do these things in your body. And I think that having the education to understand what those certain foods are doing and how to consume those to actually give you the best result is going to be the most important. So blood sugar is the biggest thing that I focus on with people. First and foremost, that happens in every single one of our first consultations that we have, regardless of what they're coming to me for. So. That's my biggest passion. That's probably what you can see on a lot of my social media with a lot of the different, you know, free handouts that I've created and some of the content that I release. Blood Sugar is at the basis of everything.


Allison: That's great. I love those points. So I know that you do have a Healthy Living Workbook. Would that be the best place for someone to start? If they are trying to balance their blood sugar and really focus more on their nutrition?


Christine: Yeah, absolutely. I created that workbook for people who are like, “I have no idea where to start. I know that I want to do something, but I don't know what to do. And I may also not be ready to hire a coach. I'm just kind of in the beginning phases of wanting to get my health under control.” And so that workbook is where I would encourage everybody to start. And it's even something that I say in the workbook, but it's pick one thing at a time. Don't try to do everything that I recommend. Don't try to kind of tackle it all. You're going to get burned out and you're going to be five steps behind where you want to be. So allow yourself to crave more. I think that it's so beneficial to go at it a little bit slower because then you're like, man, I'm feeling a little bit better, but I want more. And so then you can add something else. So kind of starting slow, but definitely kind of working your way through that workbook that I've created. And it's a free download. 


Allison: Okay. Great. I'm so glad that you have that resource for us. And I'll be sure to link that in the show notes for anybody that wants to check it out. It was awesome to have you here today, Christine, this was really special. And I just want to say thank you. This just has been amazing. I've learned a ton and if I get this tongue scraper, I will let you know. 


Christine: My gosh, please. You need to tag me on Instagram. If you get it!


Allison: I totally will! I really hope everybody has gained something from this episode. This really was a treat!


Christine: Thank you, Allison. 


๐ŸŒฟFor more on balancing blood sugar and macronutrients, visit this blog post. 

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