Eating for Your Cycle

Written by Katia Tassiou, content creator and dietitian at Nutrition A-Z

We’ve heard of food for mood, eating for gains, but what about eating for your cycle?
Yes ladies, that’s right, it's a thing! 

We are yet to have conclusive evidence to support this (since surprise, surprise not enough extensive research has been done on women) but we are seeing that our bodies may have different needs depending on which stage of the menstrual cycle we are in. For this reason, it would make sense to establish how different foods are suited to the different stages of your cycle, and the related changes that take place in parallel. The main driver here is hormonal fluctuations. By using food to support our menstrual cycle, perhaps we could ease this journey.

Here's our basic guide about specific foods to include throughout your cycle:
Please remember though that all of these foods mentioned can be included daily regardless of where you are in your cycle and the common theme here is to hero plants! We focused on these specific foods based on their nutritional profile and how it matches what your body goes through during a specific phase in your cycle.

Menstrual Phase (days 1-5): when you are on your period.
🩸Your biology: you are losing blood.
  • Important foods - antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, nutritious and high in iron - such as
berries and green leafy vegetables, avocados and olive oil, chamomile and lemon balm tea, spinach, beetroot juice and legumes. 

Follicular Phase (days 6-15) - at the end, and right after your period
📈 Your biology: your body is developing follicles that will turn into eggs, high oestrogen levels
  • Important foods - the ones that help oestrogen metabolism - such as cruciferous or fermented foods like broccoli sprouts and sauerkraut as well as healthy fats such as avocado, walnuts and salmon.

Ovulation Phase (days 16-21) - when you are fertile 
🥚Your biology - very high oestrogen levels, egg release from the ovary.
  • Important foods - antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, those supporting your liver and sources of healthy fats, vitamins B6 and folate- such as fruits like raspberries and strawberries, vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard, almonds, pistachios and finally dark chocolate and fatty fish.

Luteal Phase (days 21-30) - right before your period
📉 Your biology - an increase in oestrogen and progesterone levels followed by sudden fall, low libido and fatigue, "PMS".
  • Important foods - the ones that boost serotonin levels, those rich in magnesium and vitamin B6 and protein: tofu, eggs, green leafy veg, quinoa, chickpeas, almonds, cashews and bananas

Throughout your cycle and especially during the follicular phase, focus on your hydration and creating an overall balanced diet. It is also important to practice intuitive eating and listen to your body. Don’t blame yourself when seeking comfort in food. Prioritise nourishing your body and as always, nourishing your soul too is just as important! Just be mindful that overindulging and losing nutritional balance can worsen premenstrual migraines and mood swings.

Wishing you all smooth sailing throughout your cycle! 

Women's Health
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