Hello Ladies ! Some time ago, in a previous article, I talked to you about how our menstrual cycle influences the appearance of our face.
If you haven’t read it yet and want to know more about our physical transformation during our cycle: click HERE
Today, we are going to talk about another subject influenced by our hormonal cycle: what to eat during each phase of the cycle.
First, let’s start with a quick summary of the 4 phases of our menstrual cycle:
Menstrual phase: our period
Follicular phase: from the last day of our period until the day before ovulation
Ovulatory phase: the day of ovulation, generally the 14th/15th day of the cycle
Luteal phase: after ovulation until the day before our period
Each phase has specific characteristics, influenced by our hormone levels which vary throughout the menstrual cycle.
To support our body at each phase, an appropriate diet can be a great ally!
Of course, a healthy and varied diet, whatever the phase of the cycle, is the basics of good health and vitality of our body.... And of course… Don’t forget excesses because sometimes you have to feed the Soul! 😃
Okay, so let's have a look at each phase more in details.
The first day of our period marks the start of a new cycle. This is when our hormone levels (oestrogen and progesterone) are at their lowest. We can be sooooooooooo tired, bloated or have cramps... and all we want is comfort food and a good nap in front of a Netflix series. So, what should we eat to support us during this period? When we lose blood, we lose iron. Eating foods rich in iron like beans, green vegetables or lentils is very helpful. Also add some foods rich in vitamin C which helps maximize iron absorption. Go Go veggies and fruits!!
Full of minerals, micronutrients and vitamin C that support our body with the evacuation of the endometrium. Finally, foods rich in omega-3 such as fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts or flax seeds fight inflammation and help reduce cramps. The same goes for magnesium which will help with pain and headaches. If necessary, you can take it as a food supplement.
We avoid: tea which can prevent the proper assimilation of iron, refined sugars and poor-quality fats.
During this phase our oestrogen level increases linearly. After our periods, we regain energy and we are (overall 😉) in a good mood . Therefore we will eat foods that support this reborn vitality! But, first, we continue to add in our diet foods rich in iron (dark green vegetables for example) and good fatty acids (avocado, salmon, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, etc.) to compensate for possible deficiencies due to our period. To maintain our energy levels, we don’t hesitate to eat proteins (tofu, lentils, eggs, etc.) which will give us long lasting energy. Complex carbs (whole grains, legumes, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables) are good fuel for energy production and help tissue proliferation. A little bonus: you can also eat fermented foods such as kimchi or miso to help with the proper metabolization of oestrogen. In this full energy phase you can also strengthen your metabolism with superfoods such as spirulina, reishi, acai, moringa powder, matcha…
We avoid: simple carbohydrates such as white pasta, white rice or even white bread which play a role in regulating blood sugar and can cause inflammation.
During this short phase, we continue to eat a healthy and balanced diet with foods that support oestrogen balance.
We stock up on vitamins, antioxidants and fiber with fresh fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains. During ovulation, we also need zinc to boost our fertility cycle, which is good for our body, even if we don't want to get pregnant. Zinc also helps the production of progesterone and testosterone. It is found in red meat, shellfish or, if like me you are vegetarian, you can take food supplements. I recommend Zinc + Copper which also helps support collagen production.
After ovulation, oestrogen levels drop and progesterone and testosterone levels skyrocket before also crashing about a week before our period. During this phase, we may begin to experience symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS): pain, mood swings, headaches, bloating or constipation. We may also be more (much more😉 ) hungry than usual. We need vitamin B to help our liver evacuate oestrogen and promote the increase in progesterone. We eat whole grains, eggs, mushrooms, avocados, legumes and even green vegetables (always good for fiber and transit!) Carbs will help fight hunger, especially good ones, such as starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes for example. Finally, we don't forget magnesium, to relieve anxiety, headaches and even water retention. It also supports the liver during this period. We can treat ourselves with some dark chocolate, almonds or cashews…and of course always eat vegetables!
And here is simple visual to summarize it all:
All these recommendations are only guidelines and not things to absolutely follow, especially if your cycle is irregular or if you are using hormonal contraception. It can change a lot of things!
The most important thing is to listen to your body and keep a balanced diet (as much as possible). Eat food that makes you feel GOOD! Your body talks to you and if you know how to listen to it, it will tell you exactly what it needs or wants.
Adding some of the nutrients detailed in this article can, of course, help, but remember that we are all unique. Our bodies, our menstrual cycles and our lifestyle are all different. There is no magic recipe that works for everyone.
It's up to you to find the one that works best for YOU!