If you can’t tell by now, I am extremely passionate about all things wellness, the body, nutrition, herbs and holistic health. There are so many factors that play into true holistic health, and it can look different in every person. I don’t believe it’s a one size fits all kind of thing. We are all on our own journey and it’s important to embrace exactly where you are at right now.
With that being said let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this post. I have had a journey with my hormones, it’s one I’m still on and will be for the rest of my life -- just like you.
I think it’s important to note that women work on a 28 day (give or take a few days) cycle. We have different needs, emotions and cravings at different phases of our cycle. In my first post of this series I went in depth on the menstrual cycle. Today I am going to be giving you the full rundown of your follicular phase!
The follicular phase is also known as the preovulatory phase. It can vary but it's usually around 10 days long (think day 5 - 14 of your cycle give or take a few days depending on how long menstruation was and if you ovulate earlier or later in your cycle. More information on ovulation in a post to come). It's technically the first phase of your cycle (even though menstruation is day 1). It is often associated with springtime. It’s a season for renewal, freshness and blooming after spending time coming inward from the menstrual phase.
During your follicular phase your estrogen is starting to rise and an egg is preparing to be released during ovulation (God is so incredible and I’m forever awed at how He has created us). You are naturally going to feel this renewed energy and it’s the time in your cycle where it’s good to set some intentions, make lists, and get new projects started.
I started cycle syncing about a year ago now and it has truly changed the game when it comes to how I support my body through each different phase of my cycle. I totally understand that not everyone will understand what cycle syncing is or maybe you haven’t heard of the term at all. Don’t worry girl, that’s why I am here. I’m really passionate about this topic and I believe every single women can benefit from it.
Cycle syncing is a lifestyle change you make by implementing different foods and various exercises throughout the duration of your 28 day cycle. It’s syncing your lifestyle to support your cycle.
This post is covering everything about the follicular phase, so I am going to outline some different foods you can incorporate (+ recipe ideas with a very brief outline of a method), what exercise feels best during this phase and because I am certified in herbalism, I’m going to give you some beautiful + natural herbal tea blends you can be drinking too
Before we jump into the next section of this post I want to preface that I am no a medical professional or dietitian in any capacity. This post is for information and educational purposes only and if you make any major changes (especially in regard to your hormones) PLEASE seek out help from a medical professional. I have done my research and trust the sources I have used, along with my own knowledge on this topic. My heart is to be a space on the internet you can come to for inspiration, connection and empowerment. With all of that being said, let's learn a little more about how we can be supporting our bodies in the follicular phase.
Let’s start with food!
The first sweet practice I incorporated into my daily routine when I started cycle syncing is: Seed cycling. I have written a whole blog post on this topic.
While there aren’t many studies proving this practice to be efficient, I have personally noticed a difference in my PMS, my mood and skin since I began cycling through the different seeds. This is an optional practice, but just know that it never hurts to eat seeds!
During my follicular phase I eat flax and pumpkin seeds. Flax seeds are an incredible super seed! They contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are different compounds found in plants that essentially mimic the act of estrogen in the body. The phytoestrogens in flax seeds can help increase or decrease estrogen levels. I love to ground mine up and add them into or on top of smoothie bowls, in salads, in curries, on top of baked veggies. You can truly add seeds into any meal you want. It’s important to ground them up each day, so you are receiving the full benefits and many beautiful nutritional properties they contain.
As I stated before, we are in a season on renewal. In this phase of your cycle your body isn't having to work overtime, this means I like to take advantage in this phase and consume foods that can be a little harder to digest in other phases like salads containing raw veg or smoothies that are cold.
A few food items to incorporate during your follicular phase:
Citrus fruits: Orange, lemon, lime
I got this list from the in the FLO by Alisa Vitti.
I want to be clear that these aren't the ONLY foods you need to eat during this phase of your cycle. These are foods that help support you during your follicular phase, but if you feel like eating foods outside of this list, go for it. You aren't bound to it and there are no food rules surrounding this list. I just want to help where I can and give you some different recipe ideas using these foods.
Obviously the first recipe is going to be a smoothie bowl. I mean, are we really surprised at this point? They re literally my favourite food because they are SO versatile and you can pack them with a tonne of beautiful nutrient dense ingredients.
RECIPE IDEAS :
Protein Powder of your choice (a must in all of my smoothies)
Home made granola using oats, cashews, pumpkin, flax, coconut oil and Maple syrup to sweeten
SPLIT PEA SOUP
2 cups of split peas
1 small yellow onion
4 stalks of celery
Chicken Bone broth or veggie broth if you are veggo or vegan
Additional water if needed
Spices of choice
Chop all ingredients, add to a pot with the broth, additional water and spices. Cook until spit peas are nice and soft. You may need to add more water because the split peas are going to soak it up.
Option to use an emersion blender once cooked for a thicker consistency.
1/2 a large chicken breast (cooked in olive oil + spices of choice)
2 cups of romaine lettuce
2 hardboiled eggs
Avocado, lemon and cilantro dressing (Basically make guacamole)
Next up is Herbs!
While I could sit here and break down many different herbs that can support you during this phase of your cycle, I know that can be extremely overwhelming, especially if you are new to this whole cycle syncing regimen. I want you to know you can use herbs to help nurture and support your body, the last thing I want to do is overwhelm you.
Let's talk about Schisandra!
Schisandra, also known as Schisandra chinensis is a berry and has been used in chinese medicine for YEARS. This berry covers all the flavours - sweet, bitter, salty, sour and hot. This wonder herb holds many incredible healing and supporting properties.
A few benefits:
It is anitinflamatory. Schisandra is high in antioxidants and they help to fight free radicals in the body. This is perfect to help you during your follicular phase because your body has just been under stress (and usually inflammation occurs) after your menstrual phase.
It helps to promote a strong libido ( which is great if you are planning for a little babe) and it is great support for hormone production, more specifically, estrogen. Which is what the body is trying to build up before the release of the egg.
It helps to support adrenal function. It essentially works as an adaptogen to help us deal with external stressors. It reduces cortisol levels (our stress hormone) and helps keep our blood sugar levels stable.
It supports our liver and the production of enzymes during the detoxification process.
You can consume this beautiful herb in the form of a tea.
NOTE: Please seek out advice regarding this herb from your medical professional. Some herbs can interfere with other medications and I would strongly advise you do your own research and work out a plan with your doctor before consumption. Obviously this is a post about cycle syncing but if you are by any chance pregnant and wanting to try this herb, please consult with your doctor too.
Last but not least is exercise!
Have you ever wondered why your energy levels fluctuate so much during the month? It has everything to do with what stage of your cycle you’re in (given you’ve ruled out other health concerns). The follicular phase is the time where you are going to feel extremely energetic. I highly encourage you to move in a way that feels best for you, but this is the stage of your cycle you might want to try incorporating HIIT workouts, heavy strength sessions, boxing, cross fit etc. OR you might want to try something completely new, like a dancing class. We know that you are naturally going to have more energy and you are going to feel more social during this phase of your cycle. Embrace that!! I’ve heard a lot of people say that too much high intensity movement can be bad for hormones, and it can if you're not nourishing your body enough. So, just be sure to be eating good quality meals to allow your body to recover and in turn this is going to have a positive effect on your hormones.
Find what works best for you and for your body. This is really important and the more you sync up with your cycle the more in tune you’ll start to feel.
If you can't already tell, this is a topic I am SO passionate about. I try to break the research I have done into content that is easily digestible and understandable for you. The topics I have outlined are focussed on helping YOU take control of your cycle, be more in tune with your body and embrace the beauty of womanhood. It's a beautiful journey and I promise small little practices like incorporating different foods or trying a new form of exercise can make you feel so much better during your cycle!
I'd love to know if you have heard of or practice cycle syncing throughout the month! As always I love to hear your feed back on my posts. Was there something you learned? Something that stood out? Something you didn't understand? Let me know! I love hearing from you!
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Together, Let's flourish, lovely.