Nutrition for Your Menstrual Cycle
What foods do you reach for as you hit that most inconvenient time of the month? Salad? Fruit? Lean meats and legumes? Probably not! We all know that eating healthily is important for the most efficient body function, but somehow, as we reach a certain point in our menstrual cycle, we crave foods that give us an instant energy boost and soothe our need for comfort. The problem with this is that we then experience a sugar crash or uncomfortable bloating, amongst other less welcome symptoms. We often attribute these to our period, but it is possible to eat in a way that works with your cycle, so that you are more emotionally and physically prepared to deal with life all month long!
Eating with your Cycle
There are four different phases of the female cycle: menstruation, follicular, ovulation and luteal. At each stage your body requires certain nutrients to balance your hormones and fuel your body. Menstruation is the period of time when you experience your monthly blood-loss. In order to replace the nutrients that are eliminated with the lining of your womb, you should be looking to eat more iron, magnesium and vitamin C. Foods such as red meat, green leafy vegetables and fruits will help to quickly rebuild your blood supply so that you can beat the fatigue and somber mood that can be a key part of this time of the month. As your oestrogen levels begin to rise, you will enter the follicular stage. You might feel more energetic and positive but there is a lot going on in the body–particularly around your digestion as your body looks to get rid of used up hormones. Give it a hand by eating lots of fibre–at least seven portions of vegetables a day and plenty of water will ensure your body is cleansed, detoxified and in the best possible shape. Then, replace the old hormones with lots of omega-3 to boost skin, hair and nail health. During ovulation, your energy levels will peak and your motivation will be at its highest. Use this positive zest for life to prepare your body for the following stage by fuelling with vitamin d and zinc, found in foods like mushrooms, eggs, fish and seeds. The luteal phase is when you might start to experience some of the typical PMS symptoms. Keep acne breakouts to a minimum with lots of healthy fats such as avocado and sunflower seeds. Meanwhile ,fight off mood swings with foods rich in vitamin B6, such as red meat, lentils, sweet potatoes and carrots.
Make Time for Treats
Of course, when you feel the need for some sweet relief, a little of what you fancy will do you good. If you make sure to fill up on the required nutrients at each stage of your cycle, some chocolate or ice cream will be a tasty addition to your balanced diet.