Dietitian Erika Hung's Insights on Gut Health and Balanced Living

Dietitian Erika Hung

Erika Hung, a Sydney-based dietitian and member of The Lifestyle Dietitian team, is on a mission to redefine wellness through delicious food and practical lifestyle changes. Specialising in gut health, PCOS, and endometriosis, Erika brings a fresh and modern approach to nutrition.

 

Name: Erika Hung

Day Job: Accredited Practising Dietitian

Location: Sydney, Australia

 

Tell us about The Lifestyle Dietitian?

The Lifestyle Dietitian is a team of five dietitians who are all passionate about helping clients achieve their health goals and feel their best through tasty food and sustainable changes.

Personally, I love supporting women with gut health (including irritable bowel syndrome), PCOS, and endometriosis.

 

What are your top tips for simple lifestyle tweaks?

Don't be afraid of pre-prepared, ready-to-eat foods like pre-chopped salad bags, frozen vegetables, pre-marinated proteins, and even ready-to-heat meals.

When it comes to making changes, choose the lowest-hanging fruit. By improving the easiest habit, you will build confidence and momentum!

 

What impact social media has had on our diets?

It can be hit-and-miss, but mostly “miss.” A lot of information is floating around social media; it is inaccurate and involves either cutting something out or taking a supplement. The issue is that it doesn’t apply to everyone—what might benefit one person may not be right for you! I recommend sticking to university-qualified dietitians and healthcare professionals with credentials.

 

Can weight affect someone’s menstrual cycle?

Extreme dieting often means far too few calories for the body to thrive. Being at a weight that is too low causes the body to “conserve energy.” Your body starts to “dial down” non-essential functions, which include making the hormones needed for your menstrual cycle. As a result, you may experience infrequent and no periods. It’s important to remember that this can occur even without losing weight or being underweight.

 

What does menstrual health mean to you?

It means understanding what your body is going through in each phase and that having a menstrual cycle is a sign of health.

 

Should we be eating different foods throughout our cycle?

It’s exciting to see there is now growing research on how different foods can support the different phases of our menstrual cycle. For example, during the menstruation phase, focus on iron-rich foods to help replace lost iron, and add foods high in omega-3 fats to help reduce inflammation. This includes lean red meat and oily fish like salmon. During the luteal phase, increase calcium-rich foods to help with PMS symptoms. Include yogurt, calcium-fortified plant milk, calcium-set tofu, and silverbeet.

 

Why do we crave junk food pre-period?

Our bodies start burning more calories just before our periods as it’s working hard to thicken the uterine lining. Hence, we feel hungrier! We may also experience a drop in mood or mood swings during this time, which can also lead to the desire to reach for feel-good foods like carbs. It’s important to not beat ourselves up for this.

 

And the bloating? WTF?!

Changes in estrogen and progesterone cause bloating. Just before menstruating, estrogen and progesterone are rising. Estrogen can cause the body to retain more fluid, which can cause bloating. On the other hand, progesterone slows down our digestive system, which can cause bloating and constipation.

Drink plenty of water, slowly increase fiber (think fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains), and minimize salt to help.

Erika's PMS-approved meals

Can you share your top happy menstrual meals?

  1. Simple Sesame, Salmon and Soba Noodle Stir-fry Rich in omega-3 fats for reducing inflammation which can be linked to cramps and pain during the menstruation phase.
  2. Fiber-Filled Cozy Cottage Pie Rich in iron to replace blood loss during the menstruation phase.
  3. Strawberry Maple Chia Pods High in calcium and fiber to manage PMS symptoms and bloating during the luteal phase.
  4. Gut Healthy Prebiotic Rocky Road is Great during the luteal phase. The high fiber will help with bloating, the prebiotics will improve mood, and the healthy fats will satisfy increased hunger.

Erika Hung is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian from The Lifestyle Dietitian. Visit www.thelifestyledietitian.com.au and follow @thelifestyledietitian_au to learn more.