Not surprisingly, cortisol is one of the top hormones the holidays mess with. That's because cortisol is also known as the "stress hormone," meaning it's elevated when you're stressed TF out. "One of the first ways that it can impact us is because we're so stressed, it's going to continue to throw off our sleep-wake balance, and it's going to throw off the foods that we reached toward," Welsh says. Read: It's going to make it harder to resist cookies/cakes/pies/all the treats that are prominent during the festive season. She adds that 90% of cortisol is made in our guts. So when we eat these sugar-laden foods, those mess with our gut, which messes with our cortisol, which makes us crave sugary foods. Bodies are crazy, am I right?
Estrogen and progesterone are two other hormones that can get thrown off during the holidays. "Around the holidays, you're under stress, you're eating poorly, you aren't getting enough sleep… It can throw off that estrogen and progesterone balance," she says. "When those levels rise or fall, it impacts your gut and your bowel movements." (That's why you may feel constipated before your period and have diarrhea while you're on your period.)
These changes in hormones can manifest in symptoms like fatigue, food cravings, headaches, the aforementioned bowel issues, irritability, mood swings, and irregular menstrual cycles.