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How to adapt your diet to your cycle

Getting all of the essential vitamins and minerals from your diet is key to reducing PMS symptoms and regulating your menstrual cycle.

When you eat healthy foods and exercise regularly, your hormones are more balanced, aiding your body in all its normal processes. You can get all of the essential vitamins and minerals you need from the food you eat. Although women differ when it comes to what nutrients they need, as certain phases of life offer different demands. For example, women experience higher nutritional needs on their periods, during pregnancy and postpartum.

So, the best thing to do is eat foods that are specifically good for you, your hormones and your cycle while adjusting your diet to what your body needs most. Here are some of the best things to eat and drink to promote a healthy cycle.

Menstrual Phase

On your period, you should eat foods rich in Omega-3s, magnesium, antioxidants, iron, fiber and protein. These vitamins and minerals help regulate your hormones, boost your mood and energy levels, and reduce inflammation.

What to eat: Dark chocolate, salmon, bananas, broccoli and eggs. Also, be sure to drink 6-8 glasses of water a day and enjoy some chamomile tea to treat cramps and help you sleep better.

Follicular & Ovulatory Phases

These phases are marked by the highest estrogen production in your cycle. Of course, you should continue eating healthy foods like the ones mentioned above during these phases too. Although, due to an estrogen increase at this time, you may choose to include foods that assist in metabolizing estrogen.

What to eat: Foods that help metabolize estrogen are sprouted and fermented foods like broccoli sprouts, kimchi, and sauerkraut. You can also eat kidney beans, black beans, lentils and chickpeas as they are all rich in fiber, folate and iron which are essential throughout your cycle and fertility boosting.

Luteal Phase

Characterized by the lowest hormone production of your cycle, the luteal phase generally results in lower energy and all those pesky PMS symptoms. This means that you’ll benefit from iron and zinc rich foods and natural probiotics as your body prepares itself for your next period.

What to eat: Including probiotic-rich yoghurt (ie. kefir) in your diet at breakfast or after meals can support gut flora and help with reduced energy. Spinach and pumpkin seeds are high in iron while sprouted legumes or red meat (rich in zinc as well as iron) will help treat any skin issues from PMS. Drinking a few cups of green tea per day is also known for its hormone balancing effects.

To continuously promote a healthy cycle and effectively manage your hormones, try to get quality sleep every night, exercise regularly and practice stress management techniques such as deep breathing. On the other hand, some things can aggravate symptoms and be a source of hormonal imbalance, so try to avoid or limit your consumption of these as much as you can:

  • Foods that contain sugar
  • Sugary beverages
  • Too much salt
  • Alcohol
  • Excess caffeine
  • Refined carbs (ie. white pasta, candy, pies, cookies, cakes)