Natural Cycles: Foods to Manage Your Period and PMS
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.
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.
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.
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