What to eat at each stage of your cycle
Food is powerful.
It can comfort you, give you energy, boost your mood. But, it can also have negative effects. Think sugar crash, bloating, gas.
During your cycle, there are things you can eat and avoid eating to help you feel your best self. We are here to help you learn what to eat at each stage of your menstrual cycle.
We’re not just talking about what you can eat when you are actually on your period, but also what foods to eat during your cycle – during the follicular phase leading up to ovulation and the luteal phase (after ovulation).
With each stage of your cycle, you might notice a different mood and new food cravings. In the follicular phase (day 6-14) you might feel energised and optimistic. During the luteal phase, which comes after you have ovulated, you may find yourself moodier, or more stressed. This is also a time for bloating, headaches, breakouts and anxiety. Something that food choices may be able to help.
Let’s get into it.
What to eat at each stage of your menstrual cycle
Day one of your period means day one of your cycle starting again. During your period you might feel bloated and crampy. Food choices may help to relieve some of these symptoms.
While you might be craving a pizza and a share size bag of crisps, this might not be the best option. Ideally, you want to go for lower salt options as salty foods can make bloating worse.
Other foods to try are ones that will keep you hydrated, fibre rich foods to keep things moving and iron powerhouses. Magnesium is also said to help ease aches, which can be found in dark chocolate. (Read why I take magnesium on my period)
Here’s a period food shopping list:
- Fruits and veggies high in water such as cucumber and watermelon
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens
- Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts
During the follicular phase, your body is gearing up to release an egg. It is a time where you will likely feel pretty happy, motivated and energised.
That being said, our period can deplete iron levels due to blood loss. This can cause you to feel tired and low on energy. Thankfully, there are foods you can eat to top up your iron levels.
If you are someone who likes to exercise and train then the follicular phase is a great time to take advantage of your body being more receptive to muscle growth. You just need to make sure you are consuming enough carbs and protein to help your body grow and recover.
Here are some foods to try during the follicular phase:
- Sesame and sunflower seeds
- Red meat
- Sweet potato and carrots
The luteal phase starts after you have ovulated. Progesterone rises in an effort to support a possible pregnancy. This hormone shift can cause some unwelcomed symptoms, such as breast tenderness, mood swings, anxiety and bloating.
During this phase, it is good to avoid salty foods as they can make bloating much worse. Instead, opt for water-dense fruit and veggies. Okay, so it’s not quite what you are craving, but it might make you feel less bloated!
Caffeine and booze during this phase can be a no go for some. Both are possible triggers to anxiety, something that might be heightened right now.
Here are a few ideas for what to eat during the luteal phase:
- Brown rice
- Sesame seeds
- Chicken, tofu, meat and fish
- Dark chocolate
- Herbal tea
Foods to eat during your menstrual cycle
It isn’t always easy to curb cravings. We get that. However, sometimes I compromise with myself. I’ll have a few slices of pizza, with a side of broccoli and drink plenty of water too.
For me, it isn’t about perfection, but being the best I can be. Cravings are hard to fight sometimes and often a little bit of what you fancy is better than having a huge binge!
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