Part 2 of Understanding our Periods
week I focused on the luteal phrase of our cycle. In this blog, we pull it all together, creating the big picture of our period cycle.
Girls, understanding our bodies cycle is a good thing. A women’s body has on average, a 28 day cycle (whereas men, they have a 24 hour cycle!)
We need to understand that over the 28 days, our bodies hormones will be constantly changing, and that these changes will influence how we feel on so many platforms.
Over the years of practice, I have found we don’t relate our feelings or behaviours to where our body period cycle is at. We actually don’t even talk about our periods; it’s almost a taboo topic. Yet appreciating our bodies cycle is probably one of the healthiest things we can do. Our period cycle is at the heart of our feminine nature; and our cycle is “the circle of life”… it’s how new creations can begin.
By understanding your cycle, you can adapt and change your food; movement patterns and activities based on where your body’s cycle is at. Time and time again, girls come into the office frustrated they can’t stick to a “calorie restriction, robot style eating plan; and when they binge, it results in negative, self failure talk over the aspect of breaking the diet”. By connecting with your cycle, and beginning to understand what it all means; you will create self-freedom.
Our period cycle:
Days 1-5/7: is what we know as our menstrual cycle; it’s where the lining of our uterus is shredding. Estrogen is high; progesterone is low. Warm, easy to digest foods; with gentle exercise is how to nurture your body. We are losing blood; so hydration is critical. Eating processed foods will only cause us to bloat more during this time; so try to stick to unprocessed foods if you can (ie less take-aways; or bags of chips).
Consider including some scrambled eggs or omelette/ zucchini slice for lunch and a lamb and barley soup or a slow cooker beef and red wine stew with potato mash for dinner. Smaller meals will work better during this week also.
Day 7-13: This is after our menstrual cycle has completed and our body re-begins the cycle of life ie ovulation begins. Our body will start preparing for the egg to travel down to Fallopian tube into the uterus where it could find a sperm in the hope to become fertilised. This is our feel good zone; as hormones estrogen, testosterone, follicle stimulating hormone, and luteinizing hormone are all high. When estrogen is
high; our serotonin (our feel good hormone) is high; and we will find we are more in control with our food. This is when we feel more ready and confident to tackle new things; we can step up the tempo in our workouts; we will find ourselves being more creative in our work; it’s like we have a spring in our step. Our libido is high; our mood is good; the world is bright.
Good veggie rich meals are ideal. A big thai beef salad will taste delicious at lunch; a chicken cashew stir fry for dinner sounds awesome; and the apple with peanut butter for afternoon would be so refreshing. Use this zone to meal prep. Bake extra muesli slices; egg muffins; lunch and dinner meals. This is your power up zone.
Day 14-28 we enter stage 2: luteal phase (last weeks blog). Our body is thinking it could become pregnant in this stage; so body temperature changes; our baseline energy requirement (BMR) increases; and estrogen plummets (which causes our feel good hormone serotonin to also drop low). The effects of this hormone change is that we will find it harder to regulate emotions; as well as we feel a background tiredness; a crazy increase in hunger; and our cravings go through the roof. We hit the sweets, as we have learnt they will give us a serotonin hit quick.
In this stage, if you stay trying to stick to your salad for lunch; and your low diet calorie controlled plan; you will break it; as your body has changed. And the break, often causes further emotional pain over ‘why did I binge?’.
Last week I discussed this zone from the sugar craving zone. Another key aspect of this zone is when progesterone is high; it can cause constipation.
Your weapon in this zone; is to appreciate your body has changed. Up your high fibre carbohydrates at each meal and snack (they are ok foods). Include foods like warm porridge for breakfast; English muffin with vegemite and cheese for morning tea; a warm stuffed potato with baked beans and grated cheese for lunch and dinner enjoy a homemade pizza. Dark chocolate with strawberries and herbal tea would be amazing for dessert, while you are cuddled up on the lounge watching your favourite Netflix series.
Continue to engage in some exercise, to pump up those feel good hormones; but do more of what you enjoy vs pushing personal bests (pb’s).
A Quick Summary of Cycle Days
Days 1-5/7 (menstrual cycle)
Warm easy to digest foods
As often so tired; fatigued; 5 smaller meals can be better than 3 larger meals.
Lots of water / hydration is important
Low salt foods (ie takeaway/ processed foods) as they will cause more bloating
Exercise is Light; gentle exercise to help blood flow and reduce cramping. Ie walking is ideal
Days 7-13: Power Up Zone
use this time to meal prep; cook extra; create more
Back to your “regular foods”: Lots of veggies; salads; greens; fish; nuts; legumes; smoothies; frittata's etc
Push your body; use the positive feel good energy to try that new exercise class; add in HIIT; swimming; running; weights etc
Days 14-28 (sugar cravings; unstable/low blood sugars; constipation)
Warm high fibre, low GI carbohydrates, like porridge for breakfast; stuffed potato with baked beans for lunch; English muffin with avocado/peanut butter/vegemite and cheese for snacks; home made pizza for dinner
Enjoyable fun exercise. Exercise that makes you laugh; pumps up those feel good hormones.