Your Menstrual Cycle Diet
Medically reviewed by Abbey Sharp, Registered Dietitian , BASc.
I break down your menstrual cycle diet and give you the facts on what to eat on your period and at each stage of your cycle.
Real talk, ladies. Im a proud and loud female but in a lot of ways I feel we totally got the short end of the stick. I mean, I could go on for hours about our disproportionate human rights but I think the whole period thing is a good place to start on this blog. Im obviously not a doctor, but I wanted to chat about the best foods to eat while on your period and at each stage of your cycle in order to feel the best you possibly can when you are bleeding from your vajay.
To any dudes reading this who are about to click exit, I encourage you to maybe stick around as you may learn some important insights about the menstruating people in your life. I am sure you guys are no stranger to the mood swings, cramps, and cravings that come with the dreaded time of month for the wonderful ladies in your life. With that said, menstrual cycles are complex, intricate and somewhat unpredictable beings. So lets unpack this red monster by taking a look at what the science has to say.
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Weight And Your Menstrual Cycle
Maintaining an overall healthy weight can help to keep our menstrual cycles regular, said Huntriss, adding that losing or gaining weight can affect your cycle. Adipose tissue in which fat is stored is an endocrine organ that is involved in the production of and release of hormones, including those involved in reproduction and our menstrual cycles, said Huntriss. Having a high or very low proportion of body fat can lead to changes in the levels of oestrogen and other reproductive hormones in the body, leading to problems with ovulation and regular periods, she concluded.
This article is not a replacement for medical advice. See a GP if you are concerned about your menstrual cycle or symptoms. This article was published in October 2021.
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Ovulation Phase Aka Revival
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After our period, the ovulation phase begins and a new egg begins the process of preparing its descent down the fallopian tubes to then enter the uterus in the hopes of meeting a nice sperm to settle down with. This phase is met with an increase in estrogen, testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone. With a rise in these hormones, we begin to feel more energized and ready to take on the world. In the ovulation phase, you want to take advantage of the increase in libido, sexual energy, mood, and put in the work!
Are You Having A Painful Period Well Your Diet Decides A Lot On Your Menstruation Days Hence It Is Very Important That You Know What Foods To Eat And Which To Avoid
Do you also feel extremely hungry, craving for something sweet a week or so prior to your menstruation date? Most women have craved a week ahead of their date, and we absolutely will eat anything tasty, we can lay our hands upon. Periods are one of the toughest phases of every month. Along with doing what we do every day, women also manage their menstruation days. Be it an on-field duty or sitting back in your cabin, menstruation days are hard for women from all walks of life. And, because periods are so messed up, it is important that we eat healthy and take care of ourselves during this time.
During our menstruation days, craving is high, and hence that bottle of cold drink waiting in your refrigerator or that packet of chips in your kitchen should definitely wait. Having the wrong foods during your periods can do more harm than you can think. From nausea to vomiting, these unfit foods may cause you unnecessary problems during your periods, hence best to avoid them.
Many women are unable to control their cravings which can be erratic and hard to shift, which means we’re tempted by more unhealthy options. However, if we find healthy alternatives to unhealthy snacks, you may solve your craving problems and also binge-eat your favourite food! So, if you had or are having a painful period you may want to look at your diet and make some changes.
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So What Should I Be Eating
If youre already eating a healthy, balanced diet, stick with it during your period. Try to add in more vitamin- and mineral-rich foods, since your body could use just a little bit extra these days, says Dr. Hjort. Pineapple, watermelon, and strawberrieswhich some people use as a natural diureticare just a few examples of good-for-your-period foods.
For a healthy, period-friendly diet, Dr. Hjort also recommends leaner, whiter meats rather than red meats,fats like omega-3s and avocados, and anything that is alkalinizing, like spinach and kale. Try swapping the Romaine in your salad for spinach or whip up a smoothie that combines it with a nut buttera healthy fat.
How Does Eating Citrus Affect Your Period
As mentioned, water with a twist of lemon increases your vitamin C intake and helps you stay hydrated. Fresh-squeezed juices and blended smoothies are awesome foods to eat on your period as long as you minimize the sugar content. Fruit contains plenty of natural sugars, so theres no need to add more.
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Whats Best To Eat During Your Period
Especially during the first couple of days of your period youll feel withdrawn, your energy levels will be low and youll be tired. Thats why its important to focus on a diet that keeps your energy levels up.
- To beat tiredness replenish your iron and vitamin B12 intake by eating organic red meat, salmon, legumes, liver, beans, chickpeas, raisins, cheese, milk, almonds or fish.
- Even though cravings will still be strong, try to avoid eating junk and processed foods as they contain a lot of sodium and refined carbohydrates which increase bloating.
- You can replace unhealthy food cravings with healthier options like pieces of fruits, nibblling on nuts or almonds which are rich in omega-3. Try switching a candy bar for a piece of dark chocolate.
- Soft drinks are a hidden source of great amounts of refined sugar, which can increase your cramping. Try to replace the soda with lemon-water, a glass of freshly pressed juice, fruit or herbal tea or a smoothie.
- Try not to consume anything that is very cold. Drinks should at least be at room temperature.
- Have a cup of herbal tea instead of coffee to avoid increasing cramps due to the high levels of caffeine.
- Spice up your veggies or soup with some turmeric, cardamom, ginger, cilantro or cumin these are all spices that will support anti-inflammation
Top 6 Foods To Relieve Period Pain
Some of the best food for period pain are light foods, healthy fruits, and vegetables that aren’t heavy for your stomach. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help decrease inflammation in the body which can help in menstrual cramps.
The good news is the best foods to relieve period pain can often be found in your fridge! Top health foods on this list are very common and can be of great choice when youre looking for what to eat when you have menstrual cramps.
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Consuming A Healthy Diet And Avoiding Certain Food Items Go A Long Way In Managing Cramps And Other Symptoms During Your Period
Periods arent easy. They can cause pain and severe discomfort in many women. Which is why it is important to eat healthily when menstruating. Agrees Dr Rohini Patil, nutritionist and founder of Nutracy Lifestyle, who says, menstruation doesnt hurt itself, but the cramps or other symptoms may be uncomfortable. During this time, girls should take extra care of their diet and sanitation.
This is primarily because an improper diet can result in pain, headache, nausea, diarrhea among many other symptoms. Ahead, the nutritionist has shared a few food items women should eat and also steer away from during period. Take a look and say hello to healthy periods!
Luteal Phase Aka No Thanks
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So things are going great when before you know it you are in the luteal phase. This phase happens when the mature egg that was released during the ovulation phase does not get fertilized. As a result, hormone levels decline and we have to experience the very pleasant and oh so lovely premenstrual symptoms, which include but are not limited to cramps, headaches, bloating, aches and pains, mood swings and fatigue. So what can you do nutritionally to deal with the discomforts of the luteal phase?
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When To See A Doctor
If despite following all these things, you do not see an improvement in your period or cramps, then it is best to see a doctor. If you have irregular periods, spotting or bleeding in between your periods, heave bleeding or pain that does not go without popping a few pain killers, then you must see a doctor immediately, as this could be indicative of other underlying issues.
Foods That Cause Bloating
“You have hormones acting to provide that service already. Mainly avoid sodas or other carbonated beverages, and foods with high salt content. Some of the hormones responsible for menstruation cause water retention, and therefore bloating. Eating foods that usually cause a bloated or gassy feelings will amplify these effects on your body and further increase bloating and discomfort,” Barton says. These foods include frozen dinners, fast food, canned soups, and bacon.
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Processed Foods That Contain Unknown Ingredients
As much as it pains me to say this, those cookies or frozen pizzas you love so much might only make your period feel worse. “Our bodies are already sensitive during this time. Introducing unknown substances into your digestive system is rarely a good idea, but certainly more discouraged during menstruation. Our bodies are already working overtime, it’s best not to add to this work when avoidable,” says Barton.
Avoid: Foods With A High Salt Content
Canned soups, bacon, and chips are foods to avoid during periods as they are high in salt. The hormone responsible for menstruation already causes water retention and a high salt diet will cause a gassy, bloating feeling. If you are someone who feels particularly sluggish, lazy and generally uncomfortable around your period, then you must really take a good hard look at the amount of salt you consume.
Tip: Instead, opt for simple dal-chawal with yogurt or toss up a salad. Be mindful of what youre eating and eat in moderationespecially when youre on your period.
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Skip The Morning Coffee
Caffeine might make the world go round, but drinking it while on your period can make your cramp significantly worse. Drinking caffeine-filled drinks like tea and coffee can increase your estrogen levels, which can make PMS symptoms worse. Save yourself the trouble and avoid caffeine-heavy food and drinks when you’re on your period.
Reasons Your Period Is Late
During your usual morning routine, you open your cabinet, spot a box of tampons in the back, and you suddenly realize youre late. When was my last period? you think as you try to remember the last time you needed to reach for that box. Panic then takes over as your mind shoots straight to pregnancy.
While being pregnant is a possible reason for a missed period, there may be factors related to your health or lifestyle that are causing the delay, notes Shelley White-Corey, clinical assistant professor at the Texas A& M Health Science Center College of Nursing and a womens health nurse practitioner.
Your period may not make an appearance after your baby is born, but dont be alarmed! If you are breastfeeding your little one, a lack of periods is completely normal. Referred to as lactational amenorrhea, this is a phase that disrupts the rhythm of your menstrual cycle. After a few months, your monthly period should be right back on track.
Weight loss or weight gain
Whether youre overweight or underweight, any change in pounds can affect your monthly cycle. Common health problems linked to weight and irregular menstruation include eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, and uncontrolled diabetes. If you suspect this might be an issue for you, see your health care provider right away.
Sleep schedule changes
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
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Things That Mess With Your Period
Wouldn’t it be great if you could circle a date on your calendar and have your period actually show up then? You’d plan beach trips around it and you’d never be caught without a tampon. Unfortunately, a little variation is typical: “The average cycle is 28 daysthat’s 28 days between the first day of one period and the first day of your next periodbut anywhere in between 24 and 31 days is considered normal,” says Veronica Lerner, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Still, a highly irregular period is usually a sign that something else isn’t right in your body.” Take note of these 10 things that could be messing with your menstrual cycle, and see your doc if anything seems too far off.
Heard of marathon runners losing their periods? It’s not a myth: frequent rigorous exercise combined with low body fat puts stress on your body, and this stress tells your brain to stop producing reproductive hormones. “Since you can’t nourish a baby under extreme stress, your body temporarily shuts down the production of fertility hormones,” explains Dr. Lerner. One study found that half of exercising women experience subtle menstrual irregularity. A period that arrives a few days off schedule is nothing to worry about, but see your doctor if you haven’t had your period for longer than three months. “It’s a condition called amenorrhea, and it can compromise your bone density long-term,” says Dr. Lerner.