I’ll be honest, I’ve been dreaming up this post for quite some time now and I’ve been a little scared to start writing because I wanted to encompass this topic with honour + integrity and I wanted to give the beauty that is womanhood the justice it deserves.
This past year I have become more in tune with my body and my own cycle + signals. I used to think my cycle was just when I menstruated but it’s SO much more than that. It’s made up of 4 different phases — Menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase and luteal phase. Today I want to focus on your menstrual phase. My heart behind this blog post is to share about your menstrual phase, different foods you can be eating to support your period, exercises you might like to try, recipes, herbs to incorporate, products and practices.
Before I start, I just want to preface I am not a professional in this subject, I’m just extremely passionate about it and want to share my personal experiences + changes I have made to support my cycle that have truly changed my life.
I’ve learned to love my period, my individual cycle and the journey of womanhood. We were created to experience bleeding each month, it’s a normal occurrence for all women and I’m so over it being a taboo topic.
With that being said, lets jump straight in!
Have you ever heard of cycle syncing? Up until a few months ago, I certainly hadn’t. Cycle syncing, in my opinion, is something every woman should do. It’s basically when you sync your life up around your menstrual cycle. Sounds wild, I know, but it makes SO much sense.
On average, women’s cycles are around 28 days long, give or take few days. Number 1 is your menstrual phase.
The first day you get your period, not just spotting, I mean actual blood flow, is day 1 of your cycle. Your menstruation phase is like winter. It’s a time for slow living, coming inward with your thoughts and it’s where your estrogen and progesterone hormones are at their lowest.
Some practical ways you can be supporting yourself through this phase is:
Exercise: I believe men and women are made equal but when it comes to exercising I don’t believe we should do all the same things at the same time. Hear me out! I have incorporated weights into my workout routine this year and I was wondering why my energy was peaking some weeks and other weeks it was so low. I instantly compared myself to Gideon, who has sustained and stable energy throughout the whole month. Once I learned about the different phases of my cycle, it all made sense. My lack of energy is my bodies way of saying slow down! The way I exercise has changed since becoming more aware of these signals.
During my menstrual phase I like to go for walks outside to freshen up and get some vitamin D, along with incorporating some gentle yoga/stretching if I’m up to it. Learning to nurture + honour your bodies needs in such a fragile phase is really quite beautiful and empowering.
Food: Our bodies are experiencing all kinds of emotions and often crave that dopamine spike, hence why we tend to reach for chocolate and carbs during this time.
I am personally very aware of the foods I consume and how much I am consuming but around this time of the month I tend to be a little more lenient and I definitely eat more.
I try to eat foods that are going to support my cycle. Our bodies are working over time and deserve to be nourished and cared for during this phase. I am someone who has suffered with low iron in the past and it’s important for me to be eating the right foods to ensure I keep my levels balanced.
Foods that may help during menstruation:
A good source of animal protein (beef mince is my go-to) + Dark leafy greens. These foods are high in iron which is naturally lost during menstration.
Foods that contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Look for wild caught salmon, avocados and walnuts.
Dark Chocolate! I am lactose intolerant so most chocolate isn’t an option for me. 85% and low sugar is what you are looking for. I also try to incorporate cacao powder into my meals or drinks. I’ll share my hot cacao recipe with you below and explain why I use the ingredients I do!
* A quick tip! You might want to try avoid inflammatory foods. Most of us are experiencing some form of cramping in our uterus and inflammatory foods don’t tend to make things better.
I am all for cooking and I would love to share some of my favourite recipes that might inspire you to get creative in the kitchen when you have your menstrual cycle.
Salmon + Veg
1/2 a bunch of asparagus
1-1/2 tablespoons of Ghee
1 teaspoon of Chilli Flakes
1 teaspoon of Garlic Powder
1/2 teaspoon of Onion Powder
Juice of 1/2 a Lime
In a bowl add Salmon fillet, ghee, chilli, garlic and onion.
Mix together until salmon is well coated
Cover and leave in the fridge for 8 hours (marinating for a long period of time allows all the flavors to absorb)
Once 8 hours is up, cook Salmon fillet for 20 minutes, ensure to rotate each side equally
While salmon is cooking, in another pan fry up the asparagus
Drizzle lime juice over the salmon and serve
This has become one of my all time favourite treats to drink as dessert. I crave all the chocolate during my period and wanted to create a clean option that not only supports me during my menstrual cycle but also curbs those cravings.
Cacao is fulllll of magnesium. Magnesium helps to alleviate pain and prevent muscle spasms. This hot cacao is full of magnesium + anti-inflammatory properties to help aid you through out your cycle.
1-1/2 cups of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 teaspoons of cacao
A generous dash of cinnamon
1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric
Turn stove top burner to a medium/high heat
In a small saucepan add all ingredients listed above
Stir until warm + combined
This step is optional but I do it because it adds so much frothy goodness to this drink. Place in blender for 30 seconds. Alternatively you can use a hand frother but I’m not that fancy. haha!
If this drink is too bitter for you to begin with, feel free to add some pure raw honey to the mixture to sweeten it up a little. You can also use any kind of nut milk you like. Almond is my favourite!
Self Care Practices to incorporate
Take a bath
Do a face mask
Binge watch your favourite netlfix series
Embrace this time of coming inward.
Herbs to support your menstrual cycle
Let’s talk about Salix Spp. — Willow Bark. This beautiful analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antirheumatic, astringent and febrifuge herb was used by Native Americans to help alleviate pain. When willow bark is used as a traditional decoction (I’ll go into this more below) it contains a variety of phytochemicals and salicin. These work synergistically to create a natural buffer to protect our bodies from potential harsh side effects of the salicin.
If you are making a traditional decoction, meaning collecting or buying bulk willow bark and steeping yourself, ensure you allow decoction to sit for 45 minutes before consuming. This allows the plant constituents to break down properly and you get the most out of the plant. Keep the dosage at 1-3 g. Alternately, you can purchase a willow bark tea online or in stores.
NOTE: Please consult with your qualified health care professional before internal consumption as Willow bark can react with certain medications, especially those who are sensitive to salicylate drugs and can potentially be harmful if you are pregnant or nursing.
Both Calendula officinalis, Calendula and Matricaria recutita, Chamomile are from the Asteraceae family. These beautiful flowers both have incredible anti-inflammatory properties which can do wonders for menstrual pain. You can use oils to rub on targeted area (Something pretty exciting is currently in the works right now for oils, so keep your eyes peeled for more) or ingest internally in the form of a soothing tea blend.
Again, please ensure you check with your health care professional before consuming these herbs.
This information is for education purposes and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Using these herbs during your luteal phase may also be beneficial leading up to menstruation.
Products to support your menstrual cycle
Period Cup – This purchase was a game changer for me. Not only is it environmentally friendly but you can keep it in for up to 12 hours!
Re-usable bamboo pads – Judge me if you want but I love these. They are so great for lighter days and never leave me feeling gross.
Clary calm – I’ll admit I do have dysmenorrhea so I get excruciating periods but on the one off where I am not doubled over and out for the count, I use this little blend from DoTerra.
Peppermint Oil – This is one of my all time favourite oils. I use it for headaches. A drop rubbed into my temples and my headaches are gone within 20 minutes.
I hope that by me sharing my experiences it will empower you to take the time to navigate your own cycle and find what works best for you. If you enjoyed reading this post, be sure to let me know! I am totally open to writing about the other 3 phases in depth for you!
Also! If you have any other cycle syncing questions in regard to recipe ideas, herbs and exercise don’t hesitate to reach out!!
r e f e r e n c e s :
Herbal information: Learned through current studies at Herbal Academy.