eat right for your menstrual cycle

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I love eating food and I love my menstrual cycle! So you can imagine my delight and joy when I discovered that this fascinating woman Alisa Vitti has put together research about foods that support feminine hormones and the menstrual cycle, and has come up with some week-by-week suggestions to “eat our way to better menstrual health, naturally!”

High five to that.

Over the last year or so I have been loving experimenting with the foods that Alisa recommended during the different phases of my cycle. On the whole, the foods I felt like eating were also the foods I needed according to Alisa, with the exception of when I went travelling and became obsessed with salad in the warmer climes and soup in the colder ones despite the phase of my cycle…

(Last night I realised that I cannot get enough cabbage and kale and green leaves at the moment…this article explains why!!)

I am completely fascinated about this kind of research, and have always loved nutrition and alternative health. Eating right for our menstrual cycles and for fertility just seems to make total sense to me.

fruit salad

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” I’d also like to add “Let thy cooking be from scratch and let thy ingredients be whole foods.” It doesn’t quite have the ‘ring’ of Hippocrates’ quote (!) but to me cooking from scratch is great because you know exactly what’s in it, and you get to put in the single ingredient that I believe is missing from all factory processed and pre-packaged food…LOVE.

At the Beach House Kitchen we are so into food and nutrition and eating that it has become more like a hobby. Mealtimes are one of the highlights of my day, and experimenting with grains beans and spices and vegetables a new pastime. Lee is an incredible vegan cook so I’ve had a pretty good teacher… click here for a cool vid about Lovely Lee’s book!

Now let me share with you the work of Alisa!

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The science-y bit and some tips

“Food is the most powerful medicine we have; it has been proved scientifically that the type of food we eat directly influences the balance of hormones, the performance of the endocrine system, and the menstrual cycle.” Alisa Vitti

The foods given below as examples are not the only thing you eat for that week of the diet. I think it’s very important to emphasise this, and suggest you just increase your intake of the recommended foods during the different weeks of the plan. This raises the levels of ‘food-medicine’ at the right time to help keep the hormones moving.

This is a healthy eating plan for everyone so you can include the rest of the family, men or women with no fuss. Eating more fruit vegetables good fats grains and nuts can never be a bad thing in anyone’s diet and healthy eating is in no way restricted to women.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and that you’ll share your ideas on the comments section below.

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When to start? 

If you are menstruating, start the day after your period ends. If you are not menstruating, start on any given a Sunday or any day you’ll remember.

If you are tracking your cycle already you will probably be aware when you are moving from your pre-ovulatory phase to your ovulatory, and pre-menstrual phases etc of your cycle. If you don’t know what tracking your menstrual cycle means, fear not! Just click here for your free menstrual tracking chart and then click here to read about why/how to chart your cycle.

If, like mine your cycles are irregular lengths these phases might not be exactly a week each. My recommendation would be to follow the pattern of your unique cycle and go with your own intuition about when to change to the next food group.

Of course, listen to your body too. It will tell you if it likes this whole eating plan or not….It probably will, all the foods in this plan are seriously healthy!!)

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Week one ~ pre-ovulatory phase ~ sprouted or fermented food

Recommended Foods: Kimchi, sauerkraut, bean sprouts, broccoli sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, sprouted whole grain bread.

These foods provide your body with the right nutrients that can deal with the amount of oestrogen that is increasing during the first week of the cycle.

In these fermented groups there are key prebiotics, and a compound called indole-3-carbinol that break down oestrogen and gets it out of the system as quickly as possible.

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Week two ~ ovulatory phase ~ raw juices and fresh veggies

Recommended Foods: Raw carrots, tomatoes, courgettes, apples, fresh herbs, kale, beetroot, lemon, ginger, red cabbage, celery, leafy greens.

Recommended Juice: Beetroot, kale, parsley, celery, lemon and ginger.

Oestrogen is surging at this part of the cycle and we need plenty of antioxidants for our liver to help it process it out. These raw veggies contain glutathione, which the liver needs and stores in its tissues, and uses to detoxify our bodies, especially from excess oestrogen.

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Week three ~ pre-menstrual phase ~ greens and grains

Recommended Foods: Buckwheat, quinoa, leafy green vegetables like bok choi, pak choi, kale, Swiss chard, rainbow chard, cavolo nero.

This is the part of the cycle where levels of oestrogen and progesterone are shifting quite dramatically, rising and falling.

Grains are good for moods, because they are low glycemic and provide the small intestine with the building blocks for serotonin production. This can help stabilise the mood.

The greens combined with the grains increases fibre content, which then helps the body to eliminate waste and literally get everything out!

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Week four ~ menstruation ~ healthy fats and root vegetables

Recommended Foods: Pumpkin, squash, carrots, sweet potato, beets, avocados, seeds, nuts.

Root vegetables, especially the orange ones, are full of Vitamin A. The liver needs vitamin A so it can help break oestrogen down.

The healthy fats are really important to help keep the mood and energy levels staying stable.

soup

A good excuse to cook a gorgeous soup, I say!

further reading

For more general information about the menstrual cycle, red tents, and woman’s wheel work/workshops I do ‘on the road’ click here and here.

Don’t miss this ~ Coming soon on Woman’s Wheel ~ a free e-book of fabulous recipes for healthy eating and happy red tent times.

Thanks again to Alisa Vitti for all those years you spent researching how food is directly linked to our hormonal balance, and our menstrual cycle. I hope you continue to inspire many more women.

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