What's your biggest period craving? Do you opt for salty crisps, breadsticks and anything with a satisfying crunch? Are you carbo-loading with a heaping bowl of pasta and an extra glass of wine on the side? Or maybe you're downing every last bit of chocolate in sight à la bruce bogtrotter from Mathilda. Whatever it is, let's be clear: we're sure as hell not here to tell you to cut your cravings. If there's one thing we're gonna do here at ohne, it's lean into whatever makes us feel good — especially when we're on our period.
Like almost every thing in life, we've found that moderation is the key to hitting that perfectly sweet spot between satiating our cravings and keeping our body running at 100%. So, we'll shamelessly pop open our favourite bag of Walkers crisps as we sip our green juice in the name of ~balance~. But there's no denying that food is medicine, and as our hormones drastically fluctuate throughout our menstrual cycles, there are certain nutrients and vitamins our body may be particularly yearning for during each phase.
If you're looking to give your body a little extra support, one of the easiest things you can do is feed your body well. To make things easy for you, we've compiled a mini grocery list for each phase based on what your body typically needs at that point in time. But keep in mind: everybody is different, and this by no means is meant to dictate your complete diet. Simply use this as a starting point to start digging into what works and feels best for you.
PHASE 1: MENSTRUATION
Ah, the phase we all know too well. The cravings are at an all-time high, energy is at an all-time low, and the moods are erratically swinging somewhere in between. At this point in your cycle, your hormone levels are at their lowest as your body is working to shed the uterine lining. With so much energy expenditure going on, it's only natural for you to crave heartier, heavier foods — consider it your body's way of telling you that it needs some extra nutrients! try incorporating:
- iron-rich foods to replenish iron lost to bleeding: lentils, kale, spinach, other dark leafy greens, quinoa, pumpkin seeds and dried prunes
- blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cherries for extra antioxidants
- wholegrains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, and rye
- lean proteins: lentils, fish, eggs, tofu, chicken
- root vegetables and cruciferous vegetables: bok choy, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard and sweet potatoes
a lil something to make you feel good! pass us a bliss bar, plz.
- avoid overly spicy foods as these can irritate cramps
PHASE 2: FOLLICULAR PHASE
At this point your hormones are still relatively low, but they're slowly rising in preparation for ovulation. You may notice your energy levels start to pick up again, and your focus may sharpen as that brain fog you experienced days ago starts to lift. This is the perfect time to stock up on light, bright, gut-healthy foods:
- fermented foods: kefir, probiotic yoghurt, kimchi, miso, kombucha and sauerkraut
- healthy fats: avocado, nuts, flaxseeds and fish
- zucchini, squash and eggplants
- valerian/fennel tea to promote a deeper sleep
- avoid excess alcohol as your body can be more prone to dehydration during this phase
PHASE 3: OVULATION
B vitamins are your body's best friend during this phase, since your body is using these vitamins to facilitate a healthy release of the egg. To help support energy levels and regulate your mood, reach for:
- avocados, bananas, mangoes, papayas and elderberries
- chickpeas, chestnuts and black-eyed peas
- potatoes and sweet potatoes
a couple droppers of yin & tonic for all the vitamins and minerals your body is craving (vitamin b1, vitamin b6, vitamin b12, iron, iodine, magnesium and zinc!)
PHASE 4: LUTEAL PHASE
With hormone levels now at their peak, PMS may be causing some serious bloating and discomfort. Expect your cravings to strike the hardest during this phase, as progesterone (a hormone associated with a bigger appetite), is at its highest. Here's what you can do to minimize the wrath of PMS:
- avoid foods high in salt to minimize bloating
- cut down on excess sugar
- curb your caffeine and alcohol intake as these can both aggravate PMS symptoms
- opt for herbal teas, sparkling fruit waters, chicory root tea or peppermint tea for caffeine-free drinks
- fill your diet with B vitamins and fiber to help regulate moods and aid digestion (think crunchy vegetables, dark berries, almonds, pecans, walnuts, whole grains and beans).
At the end of the day, you know your body best. the surest way to keep your body happy is to intuitively listen to the signals your body sends you (and of course: always check in with your doctor if something is feeling off). We're wishing you an easy, breezy cycle filled with all the most delicious, nutritious foods. bon appétit!
Image credit: okeykat (Unsplash)