• Do you have low energy during the day but feel wired at night?
  • Do you feel you are constantly racing from one task to the next, even if the racing is only in your head?
  • Do you crave sweet foods?
  • Do you find it difficult to feel calm even in yoga or meditation
  • Do you use caffeine to perk yourself up during the day and use wine to sooth your nerves in the night?
  • Do you have a “muffin top”?
  • Do you have painful periods?
  • Are you emotional?
  • Do you have low bone density?
  • Do you have insulin or blood-sugar issues?

If you answered yes to three or more of these questions, you could have cortisol imbalance.



When Sarah looked through some family photos taken on a recent holiday, she felt depressed. Despite the tranquil beach setting, all she could see were her stomach and what she describes as a huge muffin top spilling over her shorts.

Sarah is 48 years old, married with two teenage sons and working full time as an accountant.

During an appointment at our clinic, she told us that she was fed up with feeling tired and thought she might have chronic fatigue syndrome, a thyroid problem or the beginnings of menopause.

Sarah said her weight was normal until she had children. From that time, she carried an additional 6-8 kilograms that no matter what she tried she couldn’t budge. The more she trained and starved herself she seemed to put more weight on.

When asked about her eating patterns, she said she ate “like a bird” during the day, but for dinner she usually consumed more food than she should. She often drank two to three glasses of wind to wind down and added some chocolate into the mix! When she went to bed she felt exhausted, but wired and she didn’t sleep as soundly as she used to. When her alarm went off at 6am, she woke annoyed from eating chocolate and drinking wine and would head to the gym in a frenzy. After the gym she raced to work.

Sarah’s workday was filled with hectic meetings, racing from one task to the next! Because she was so busy in the day she didn’t plan meals and often grabbed a muffin and double-shot latte for breakfast. Lunch was a salad sandwich or smoothie and again a double-shot latte. And she felt rather “hangry” at 3pm. Which resulted in a handful of jelly babies or coloured snakes and a cup of tea. Dinner was often pasta as it was easy for her boys. Even though she went to bed at 10pm, Sarah only slept around six hours. Lying in bed, she was in the habit of checking Facebook and responding to texts. This made her feel wired instead of tired. Before she knew it, it was already midnight before she was actually sleeping.

Sarah’s cortisol levels were three times the recommended level. She never used relaxation techniques and her poor nutrition choices caused her blood sugar levels to rise and become deposited as belly fat! Sarah’s high cortisol levels caused insulin resistance that put pressure on her thyroid hormones because changes in one hormone create a cascading effect.

Our Naturopaths advice to Sarah was to eat more food! But there was a catch. She needed to cut out processed foods and increase her intake of high-quality protein such as fish, grass-fed beef and free range chicken, and of high-quality fats. She was advised to cut back the alcohol during her rebalance. Sarah was told to exercise but her frantic methods of going hard core on a stationary bike for 45minutes was only increasing her cortisol levels and preventing weightloss.


Sarah worked on winding down before going to bed, and she banned the phone in her bedroom. She didn’t eat whatever food came across her path at night, and she didn’t need a big dinner as she was well nourished. At 3pm when she used to have a mid afternoon slump and reach for lollies, it was now a handful of nuts!

After twelve weeks, her blood tests showed normal fasting insulin, glucose levels, and cortisol levels, her LDL (bad) cholesterol level dropped from 3.6 to 3.3. When she stepped on the scales measuring her body composition, they revealed a reduction in weight, increase in muscle mass and greater celluar hydration.

She said, “I like what I see in the mirror. Its a younger me: calm, lean and healthy-looking.”

If you feel your cortisol levels could be effecting your health and weight loss speak to our Naturopath at Enhance Wellness Centre.

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