Natural Cycles: Foods to Manage Your Period and PMS

By Guest Blogger   |  18Comments|

This is a period piece. No, it’s not about a famous Shakespeare play or fabulous costumes made to recreate a 19th-century drama. Nope. This article is about menstruation and menstrual cycles.

There’s no reason to get shy or grossed out. We gotta go there — because chances are you watched the same lame video I did in middle school health class that taught me … well. not a whole lot.

There are so many misconceptions going around that have us in a funk. Ready for a little bit of truth? Well, get this:

  • There’s no reason for the monthly cycle to be uncomfortable! A woman’s life can be filled with joy and bliss every day, including during the menstrual cycle.
  • Mood swings, anxiety, constipation, cramps, anger, sweet cravings, increased appetite, headaches, acne, weight gain, breast tenderness, fluid retention, bloating and achy joints can all be signs that we’re out of balance because of diet and lifestyle choices.
  • The moon, the tides of the ocean and women all cycle together each month. Just as the phases of the moon cause the ebb and flow of the ocean, the hormones in a women’s body ebb and flow, too. Ovulation naturally occurs on the full moon and menses on the new moon.
  • Women are actually supposed to take it easy during their menses. It’s a time for rest, recharging one’s batteries and light duty.

Crazy, right? Are you noticing that things in your god pod are a little out of whack? No worries. Let’s break down the menstrual cycle into three phases so we can see exactly where the hang-ups are and where diet shifts can be made.

Phase 1
A few days after the completion of the menstrual flow, the building phase of the female cycle begins. Bodily fluids and tissues slowly and steadily build up until after ovulation (around the time of the full moon). This phase includes days 1-16 of the cycle.

During this time, to keep ourselves in balance, it’s best to steer away from sweet, sour and salty tasting foods, such as berries, bananas, corn, peas, citrus fruits, melons and coconuts. Start saying “yes” to more pungent, bitter and astringent foods, like chili peppers, garlic, onions, ginger, spinach, kale, green cabbage, cranberries, lentils, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus. This supports the prevention of excessive fluid retention, painful breast swelling, and an overall heaviness and dullness in the body and mind.

Phase 2
With a receptive uterine lining formed by day 17, the next phase of the female lunar cycle begins. Accelerated warming occurs and ensures that if a fertilized egg arrives, it has the best possible home to be nurtured in its rapid phase of growth. If no fertilized egg arrives, then magic transformative powers dynamically cause the lining to slough.

To help prevent those nasty symptoms of PMS, like irritability, intense cramping, constipation and headaches, avoid sour, salty and pungent-tasting foods. Examples of these include chili peppers, garlic, onions, ginger, excess salt, lemons, limes, sea vegetables and nuts. Incorporate more sweet, bitter and astringent foods, such as lentils, carrots, beets, bananas, mangos, spinach, kale, green cabbage, turmeric, zucchini, cranberries, pomegranates, pears, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.

Phase 3
The last phase of the menstrual cycle is marked by the flow of the menses out of the body. The loss of blood during this time welcomes sweet, sour and salty foods, especially the ones that are iron and mineral-rich. Examples of these foods are sea vegetables, potatoes, carrots, beets, lemons, limes, and nuts. Shy away from bitter, pungent and astringent foods.

Here are a few more notes to guide your lifestyle choices to get your menstruation in sync with the moon cycles:

1. Ditch the alcohol and caffeine.
2. Go to bed by 10 p.m.
3. Wake up around 6 a.m.
4. Eat dinner by 7 p.m.
5. Relax and try not to engage with stressful situations.
6. Drink your green smoothies and up your chlorophyll intake.

For menstruating women, this is the most powerful reset button for your body. It’s the reason women live longer than men. Instead of storing toxins in the blood and liver, women have access to a natural cleanse cycle. We get all kinds of creative ideas and intuitive hits. It’s amazing to be a woman — and even more amazing to be one who lives in tune with natural cycles.

Check out the moon this month. Notice what phase it’s in. Notice how your cycle is lining up to the natural rhythms of ebb and flow.

Peace + power cycles.

Ashley Pitman is a Wellness Educator who brings potent ancient wisdom to the dinner table as something the entire family can understand, embrace and enjoy. She’ll color you with vibrant health + business smarts using raw foods, Ayurveda, yoga & spiritually-and minded entrepreneurship. For tons of free, valuable content, visit her blog.

Photo credit: Meena Kadri

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18 responses to Natural Cycles: Foods to Manage Your Period and PMS
  1. I wish I knew when my cycles were coming, but they keep changing!!! After chemopause, and my period came back, it has been out of whack…like starting over again. It seems like I am starting a week early every cycle..not good for someone who is not taking anti-hormone meds when the cancer was hormone induced. Nor do I want my lady parts removed, already have foobs, and think hormones are important, but what if they want to kill you?? AHHHHHH!!!!! I have to include broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower in my daily diet, that is how I am personally trying to control my hormones, as well as staying away from all SOY,,which is soooo hard to do! It’s in everything & I think it’s the devil! Trying to stay away from xenoestrogens in the environment, in beauty products…they need a list of environmental and foods, products to stay away…we need a label that says may increase estrogen!!! sigh————–

  2. Love the article! I’ve followed a similar approach for years, avoiding the nasty PMS symptoms I hear others suffering from.
    It is unfortunate but I don’t think many women experience the natural ebb and flow of their bodies in tune with the lunar cycle though. If they are on birth control pills, their bodies follow more the flow of those hormones rather than a natural cycle, don’t they?

  3. such an interesting article! i wonder… what about women who are on the pill? does this negate the option of being synched up? are these ebbs & flows as evident, and can they benefit from this type of attention as well? or are we overridden by the chemical regulation of the pill?

  4. Great Article! But what if you’re perimenopausal? Everything seems out of whack. Lifestyle and eating healthy help, but not completely. Any suggestions for those of us entering this phase of life?

  5. Interesting….but I’m on the pill. So no synching up for me. Although, I’d love to be in cycle with the moon (how fun and pagan-y!!), it’s more important for me to avoid babies at this time in my life.

  6. What a timely article! I’ve just started trying to lessen my PMS, I cut out caffeine and I’ve been drinking my green smoothies every morning. It doesn’t seem right that we suffer!

  7. Very interesting and timely article! I have always been right on schedule with my cycle (every 28 days) and I had heard that women’s cycles are the same length as the cycle of the moon (every 28 days). But given that I just started my period today, I am not sync with the moon. Right now, I should be close to ovulating based on the current moon phase…. but I don’t feel that I should mess with my cycle the way it is as it is normal and predictable, BUT I will take your suggestions into avoiding certain foods while eating more of others during times of ovulation, PMS and menstruation. I am very fluidy the week of, this article could not be more timely! Thanks :)

  8. I hear a lot of women talking about being on the pill and how it’s not possible to line up with the moon cycles because the pill dictates your monthly schedule. I don’t have an answer or solution for this. There may not be one right now, but I think that part of the process may be noticing that we do need a solution. Perhaps letting people know that it’s important to get back in sync with natural rhythms it the first step. There’s a lot of room for exciting solutions and positive growth on this topic.

  9. Try an IUD without hormones. It is fantastic!

  10. So we DON’T have to suffer?! 😉 Hormones eh..
    I’m on the pill but have a few friends who will be interested in this for sure, so will forward it along to them.
    Great tips, thanks for sharing!

  11. Kris, I know that our cycles are a natural part of being a woman. Many women I know are now getting, what I think is called an ablasion. This stops there meunstral cycle,and I have been told, reduces there irritability. This jus does not seem like the natural course to take as a woman and I fear it may harm women in the long run. I am wondering your opinion and knowledge on this topic.
    thanks, Dawn

  12. Wow so informative!!! I find for me, it is hard to stay balanced one week before my period and during… Thank you

  13. Mel said on May 22, 2013

    It is correct that we should be in sync with the moon, but it is wrong to say that all women should ovulate on the full moon and have their menses on the new. You are your own woman who has her own unique lunar cycle that is determined when you are born.

    As for the pill… After taking it for 9 years I am now 18 months free and happily NOT pregnant and in a stable (and very sexual!) relationship. Know your cycle and know your body and you can be in control of contraception without drugs.

    Any natural fertility clinic can teach you these things.

  14. I tend to be due during a full moon..why is that?

  15. What do you think about the pill? I am on juliet which i got put on at a younge age for pimples. Im now nearly 26 and people are telling me its bad for you?
    Thanks xx

  16. I was recently diagnosed with PCOS and told my gyno i wasn’t interested in taking any medication for it, as I would rather try and alleviate symptoms naturally (with diet). Since I’m not overweight, she’s basically said she doesn’t see the merit in it, but I’m welcome to try anything I’d like as long as I come back if it’s been more than a couple of months without a cycle.
    Now that I’m on this endeavor, though, I’m realizing I don’t necessarily know what I’m doing. It seems a person can make a case for eating/eliminating just about any food group and I don’t know where I should be looking. I’ve cut out all dairy (I’ve always had issues with it) and the vast majority of added sugar…but I’m REALLY confused with wheat products, gluten, grain, soy, corn, etc. Can someone direct me to the books I should be reading on the proper way to eat for PCOS?

  17. Kris, Not to get too off the topic posted here…although I know Date wise I am FULLY OFF…Do you have any guidelines for Birth Control? I noticed some of the ladies here mentioned they are using the pill or the UI, but what is the BEST Idea Overall for BC? I stopped using it early in my teens due to reaction after reaction (now this was the 90’s, dating myself there).

    Being a Mom now, I am just now charting and we are looking into better (AND less Stressful) methods.
    Do you have any recommendations for those with Dis-Ease trying to avoid taking these pills or using the UI? Or do you know of any studies?

    Much Gratitude and Love to you and all those who posted, the Article and commentary have been helpful!

    Peace, Jai Ma and Namaste