As a cycle-syncing nutritionist, I’m asked all the time about what you should eat to have a happier period. While no one food is going to cure all of your menstrual woes, supporting the processes that are happening in your body throughout your cycle can certainly help.
Eating for your cycle can help reduce PMS symptoms, and it can also support your body’s healing ability to get your period back, if your menstrual phase has gone missing for some reason. You can lose your period if you’re not eating enough, if you’re over-exercising, or if you’re chronically stressed, among other reasons.
Before worrying about what exactly to eat, however, you want to have the basics in place, which I discuss in this blog post.
Now onto the cycle-syncing meal-planning tips:
The follicular phase
Because this is the “proliferative” phase when the lining of your uterus builds as estrogen rises, you’ll want to enjoy foods that have lots of energy within them to support that physical and mental growth. Think “living” and “active” options like sprouted and fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, yogurt, sprouted grains/nuts/seeds), as well as fresh produce. If you’re seed cycling, look for recipes that contain pumpkin and flax seeds.
- Pumpkin Spice Baked Oatmeal (using sprouted oats)
- Mocha Cookies
- Rainbow Vegan Sushi (just add kimchi)
Click here for more follicular phase recipes.
The ovulatory phase
Estrogen and energy have a peak moment when ovulation occurs. To support your body with all this buzzing activity, you’ll want to look for foods that support your elimination organs. The liver detoxifies excess estrogen, and the bowels help remove them from the body. Lots of fresh and raw produce have the nutrients and fiber you need to support this process.
Click here for more ovulatory phase recipes.
The luteal phase
While the follicular phase was the proliferative stage of your cycle, the luteal phase is known as the “secretory” stage. The lining that was built up pre-ovulation will either continue to build if pregnancy occurs, or it will begin to break down.
“Secretory” refers to the chemicals (some of which are prostaglandins that can potentially contribute to period cramps) that are secreted by the uterine lining.
When shedding occurs, the body is coming down from that ovulation high. Energy wanes over the course of the next two weeks.
You’ll want to support the luteal phase process with foods rich in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, all of which contribute to energy production.
Click here for more luteal phase recipes.
The menstrual phase
You know how you feel during menstruation. Your body calls for quiet, rest, and restorative practices. Take cues from what’s happening in the body to select recipes from your meal plan.
Blood loss calls for nutrient-dense and hydrating foods to replenish what’s lost in this phase. This includes fresh produce (love a good green juice as a supplement here, not as a meal in itself), seafood, sea vegetables, hearty and comforting soups. You may also like chamomile tea for its anti-inflammatory qualities at this time.
- Jackfruit Chili Verde
- Chocolate-Cherry Smoothie (using chamomile tea in place of coconut water)
- Roasted Veggie & Kale Salad (would be a great side for pan-seared salmon)
Click here for more menstrual phase recipes.
Putting it all together
When it comes to meal planning, I know people get overly stuck on the details. Your hormones will not collapse if you have a menstrual phase recipe during your ovulatory phase. Foods are not isolated nutrients — they contain multitudes and are helpful all around. So while you can eat for your cycle if it works out for your calendar, the most important thing is that you’re meeting your needs throughout the day and having a variety of different foods to support your body. Once you have that down, then you may notice differences as you tailor your meals to your cycle.
Cycle-syncing is a long game, friends, but it can be a delicious one, too!