What to Eat During Each Phase of Your CycleMar 23, 2020
Did you know that what you eat during each phase of your menstrual cycle can help support your hormones?
Choosing your diet based on where you are in your cycle, is one of the most powerful ways you can practice cycle self-care.
And I’m not just talking about what you eat during your period!
Giving your body the right nutrients throughout the whole cycle and all of its 4 phases can make a huge difference for your period problems, hormone imbalances, and fertility issues.
The four phases of your cycle are menstruation, follicular, ovulation and luteal. And your body has different nutritional requirements for each of these phases!
Let’s take a broad look at what to eat during each phase of your cycle.
1. What to eat during your Period
In the menstrual phase, you’re prone to feeling tired and emotional so it’s important to focus on foods that will help with this.
To balance your energy:
Try increasing your healthy fat intake and your protein levels as these are ‘slow-burning’ fuel sources for your body. As a bonus, adding in more protein and fat while you have your period will set you up for healthy ovulation!
To balance your mood:
One of the best things you can do is keep your blood sugar levels stable! The increased fat and protein will really help with this but it’s also important to reduce sugar and refined carb intake.
Obviously you’ll be bleeding so we also need to consider the loss of minerals in your blood, particularly iron and zinc. This is especially important if your period is heavy or last 7+ days.
To replace lost minerals:
Aim for foods that are rich in iron and zinc such as red meat, shellfish, nori, kelp, organ meats, legumes and pumpkin seeds. Foods high in Vitamin C will help absorb the iron from your meals so also include foods like capsicum (bell peppers), broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries and citrus fruit.
2. What to eat during your Follicular Phase
Your estrogen levels are rising and your follicles are growing in preparation for ovulation, so eating to support your ovaries is a great idea during this phase.
Your appetite will probably be low and your metabolism is slower in the first half of your cycle, so opt for fewer carbs.
To support your ovaries and follicle development:
Add in pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught fish, avocado, fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi) and lots of leafy greens.
To support rising estrogen levels:
Choose fresh and light foods such as steamed vegetables, grapefruit, lemon, parsley, carrot, zucchini, flax seeds, chicken, fish, olives and pomegranate.
If you are trying to conceive, make sure you’re getting enough water! And consider reducing both alcohol and caffeine in this phase as they can reduce or thicken your cervical fluids, which are needed to carry his sperm to your egg!
3. What to eat during Ovulation
If you love raw foods and salads, this is the best time to eat them.
During this short phase, your body needs high amounts of the B vitamins to release your egg at ovulation. And if you’re trying to conceive, you’ll need those B vitamins during implantation too!
As estrogen levels peak, you’ll want to really support your detoxification pathways so that excess estrogen can leave the body. If this builds up, it can contribute to PMS symptoms later in the cycle….ain’t nobody got time for that.
To support ovulation:
Lamb, pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught salmon and sardines have high levels of B vitamins and zinc which nourish and support your ovaries. For extra B vitamins, add in plenty of leafy greens, some macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds.
To support healthy estrogen levels:
Load up on cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and other leafy greens. Foods high in glutathione are also great as they support your liver to flush excess estrogen. Asparagus, avocado, cabbage, garlic and walnuts are good choices.
If you’re trying to conceive, make sure you stay really well hydrated in this phase! Your body requires water for follicle development, transporting your hormones and producing fertile quality, slippery cervical fluids.
4. What to eat during your Luteal Phase
You’ve moved into the second half of your cycle now and your hormones have changed a lot.
Progesterone becomes the dominant hormone and with that change comes a natural requirement for more calories!
You’ll likely notice your appetite has increased and you might start getting some food cravings.
To ward off PMS, it’s important to eat foods that really support your progesterone levels & help to flush out estrogen.
In general, raw vegetables and cold foods are less ideal in this phase. Focus more on hearty, warming and earthy foods.
To stay satiated and keep cravings away:
Choose slow-burning carbs like sweet potatoes, pumpkin and brown rice. Healthy fats and nutrient-dense foods like bone broth and slow-cooked meats will help keep you satiated. Don’t be afraid to add some Himalayan salt to your meals to help keep cravings away.
80% dark chocolate can provide your body with some much-needed magnesium if you are craving sugar. Just keep in mind that eating sugar or refined carbs will lead to more sugar cravings – don’t fall into the trap! Plus, sugar depletes your much needed PMS-fighting micronutrients so it’s a lose-lose situation!
Try roasting some beets and sweet potato in coconut oil and add a little cinnamon. It’s delightfully sweet but the coconut oil and slow-burning root veggies won’t cause more cravings.
To ward off PMS:
Continue eating lots of cruciferous vegetables and add in beets, chickpeas and walnuts. These will also help remove excess estrogen which causes PMS in the first place.
Berries such as strawberries, blueberries and raspberries are high in bioflavonoids and vitamin C, which will help support progesterone production. Progesterone is the perfect antidote for PMS and when levels are sufficient, you’ll feel calmer and more in love with your life. Who doesn’t want that the week before their period starts?!
Wild-caught salmon, tuna and sardines have a high amount of Omega 3 fatty acids, which are really important for reducing period pain and menstrual headaches, so add plenty of these to your diet too.
Bringing it all together
You’ll move from each phase to the next in a steady state of flow and your eating patterns can do the exact same. Nothing is set in stone, so work with your body to find the best fit for you.
If you feel like a certain food on a certain day that’s absolutely fine, there are no “rules” that you need to follow here. A good approach is to aim for 80% of your food to be cycle-aligned and the other 20% can be for living life!!
Big love, Rach xx
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