Nutrition and Periods


Posted on October 15th

Food during Period

During the second half of your cycle after dropping very low at ovulation, your estradiol levels increase and then decrease again just before your period.

Estradiol Works Like an Appetite Suppressant

What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat are influenced by many factors.

Studies have shown that you eat less just before you ovulate than you do at any other point in your menstrual cycle. Overall, you eat less during the first half of your cycle when estradiol is in charge than you do during the second half of your cycle when your estradiol levels are relatively lower and progesterone comes into the picture.

Luteal Phase (avg day 14)

When you have less estradiol . This may cause you to subconsciously search for more calories as the appetite suppressing effect of estradiol is diminished. Again, research supports that a woman with regular menstrual cycles tends to take in more calories during the luteal phase of her menstrual cycle.

What to eat during your period:

  • Fill the plate with veggies and fruit
  • Healthy Fats
  • Up your protein (will help keep your blood sugar stable and also help with cravings)
  • Magnesium Supp (will help with Cramps)
  • Wild Fish ((will help with Cramps and Healthy Fats)
  • Dark Green Leafy veg (hormones and energy)
  • Citrus Fruit
  • Oysters 
  • Broccoli (esp if you have a heavy period)
  • 70% + chocolate is great – has magnesium which helps with cramps, sleep, stress and neurotransmitters) 

PROTEIN:

  • Provides Amino Acids to repair and maintain your hormones, muscles , organs and immune system
  • Aim for 1g (at least) per kg of bodyweight
  • Try and have a protein rich brekkie – helps improve the stress response on the body

CARBS:

  • Good for Energy
  • Supports Immune System Function

FIBRE:

  • Good for your gut bacteria and metabolism of Estrogen

FAT:

  • Important building blocks for stored hormones (estrogen and progesterone)
  • Omega 3 helps reduces inflammation. (coconut oil, fish, nuts…seeds)

AVOID:

  • Sugary foods…they increase anxiety
  • Salty Stuff – plays havoc with bloating and the gut
  • Coffee and of course Alcohol 

Progesterone is the dominant hormone in the luteal phase or second half of your menstrual cycle. It is thought that one of the effects of progesterone is that it stimulates your appetite. Your elevated progesterone level is also responsible for some of the other unpleasant premenstrual symptoms you might experience bloating, constipation, and breast tenderness.

So, between the decrease in the appetite suppressant effects of estradiol and the appetite-stimulating effect of progesterone, you have some challenging biological hurdles to overcome.

From the start of your period until ovulation you have about two weeks where your hormones are on your side. Your estradiol level is up and your progesterone level is down. This is a good time to get started on a healthy diet and exercise routine. If you can get yourself into a good routine in these two weeks it will help you face the challenges that come with the luteal phase of your cycle.

The real challenge starts when you hit your luteal phase. But now you understand why your body turns to simple carbs and sugary food to help boost your mood. Armed with this knowledge you can try some tactics to help you stick to your healthy eating goals even in the luteal phase:

  • Be kind to yourself. Slip-ups will happen. Remember, just because you had a few cookies doesn’t mean you can’t get back on track.
  • Get moving. Getting regular exercise, especially during the luteal phase, is very helpful for appetite control. If you tend to snack at night try doing a few minutes of dancing or running in place before you head off to the kitchen for a snack. Or take some time to do some mood-boosting and anxiety blasting yoga poses.
  • Snack substitutes. Try to substitute for a healthier snack. If you are a potato chip muncher, try no-butter popcorn. If chocolate is your go-to craving, trade in your milk chocolate for dark chocolate. Dark chocolate has serotonin-boosting powers as well as other health benefits.
  • Have a cup of tea. Try a cup of herbal tea to calm your mind. Not only is slowly sipping a cup of hot tea a relaxing ritual, but you can also benefit by choosing teas with mood-boosting properties.
  • Head to bed. If you are having a particularly rough day and really struggling not to dive into that bag of cookies head to bed. Sleep is extremely healing for your body and helps to reduce the stress hormone cortisol which can also sabotage your mood and your diet.