Did you know that you can support your hormones through something you do already everyday? This idea, which is sometimes called cycle-syncing, is matching what you eat with where you are in your cycle. The wonderful thing with cycle syncing is you don’t have to cut out foods, but you can add foods to support healthy hormones.
My food philosophy
There is so much out there in the wellness world around food, and always a trendy diet, or something you “should” or “shouldn't” be eating. My intention is not to add to this type of conversation. Instead, I want to be really conscious in that I’m sensitive in how I talk about food. This is because having a negative relationship with food and your body is just as harmful as eating what we think of as “bad” food.When taking nutrition and food-related advice, rather than thinking of food as good or bad, listen to your own body. Eat mindfully and eat when you’re hungry. Learn how to enjoy cooking your food. The other thing about food is that it carries the energy of where it was grown and how it was cooked. This means you can think about where your food comes from, and try to buy organic and lovingly grown food when possible. Cook with loved ones, cook food you enjoy, and make it a process that is pleasurable. This will benefit your eating and your cooking! Start small, cook one meal a week, and cook meals you enjoy to eat and make.After you eat, pay attention to how you feel, rather than how the outside says you should feel. Ali Shapiro talks about this when it comes to breakfasts. She suggests eating several different breakfasts, for three days in a row. Eat a yogurt, granola and fruit breakfast one day. Then a sauteed spinach, egg and toast breakfast. Then a smoothie with greens, fruit, almond milk and hemp protein. See how you feel, and how long you stay full. Let your body be your guide
Food and Hormones
That being said, there are ways you can support your body through food. The first is through maintaining stable blood sugar by eating breakfast, eating when you’re hungry, and eating food that makes you feel satisfied and full. Eating when you're hungry takes our body out of fight or flight, because we need to feel safe to ovulate.
There are also foods that have been shown to wreak havoc on our hormonal health. Listen to your body after you eat these foods, and if you are struggling with hormonal imbalance, perhaps think of eliminating one food for a month and see what happens to your cycles. Inflammatory foods are foods that cause excess inflammation in the body. Lowering inflammation can improve the communication between the brain and ovaries to create balanced levels of hormones that influence healthy ovulation and menstruation, as well as decreasing period pain and PMS. These foods include refined sugar, vegetable oil, gluten and dairy (you can read more about this in Lara Briden's book, which is linked below).
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome will also positively impact your hormonal health. This is because estrogen is detoxified through the gut, by your gut microbes, and then gently escorted out through your poop. You can maintain a healthy gut microbiome by eating diverse, organic foods, eating fermented foods and only taking antibiotics if absolutely essential.
And finally, you can eat certain foods depending on where you are in your cycle! Use these as guidelines and INSPIRATION, rather than rules.If you're not currently cycling, or aren't getting your period, sync up your food with the moon. - menstruation landing on the new moon and ovulation landing on the full moon.
The follicular phase starts on day one of the cycle, all the way up to ovulation. At the beginning of the follicular phase, or during menstruation, focus on warming foods that are rich in Iron, Vitamin C and Zinc. Replenish your body's vitamins and minerals during menstruation by eating leafy greens or broccoli, which contain iron, as well as beans such as white beans, kidney beans and lima beans. Following menstruation, your energy levels will start to rise again before ovulation, which is a great time to do food prep! In pre-ovulation and into ovulation you can support your body by eating muscle building foods, as this is a great time for your body to do higher-impact activity and build muscle.
Nat's Hot Cacao Recipe
I started drinking this on the daily when I stopped having coffee in the morning. It has the anti-inflammatory properties of cinnamon and ginger, that are fantastic for the menstrual phase.
1 cup of non-dairy milk
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tsp ground cacao
1/2 tsp maca root
1/2 tsp ginger
2tsp raw honey (or to taste)
Heat everything up in a saucepan until just boiled, and serve!
The luteal phase starts around ovulation and goes until the next bleed. During this time, you'll want to focus on detoxifying estrogen by promoting healthy bowel movements by eating lots of fibre. You may want to think about eating complex carbs to regulate mood, and keep blood sugar stable. Foods rich in magnesium, zinc and vitamin B6 will support your body in the pre-menstrual phase. Detoxifying foods include foods in the cabbage family, such as cabbage, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. Think about decreasing alcohol intake at this time, as alcohol can impair estrogen detoxification.
Pre Menstrual Roasted Veg
If you find me in the summertime, I will be eating roasted veggies. They are a great way to use whatever is in season, but they also are great as complex carbs and warming, nutrient rich during the pre-menstrual phase. You can either bbq them or roast them in the oven.
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
5 cups chopped vegetables and root vegetables - any combo of onions, squash, zucchini, mushrooms, potato, sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, beets.
Salt, pepper to taste
2 tbs. rosemary (also has estrogen detoxifying properties!)
Toss w/ plenty of olive oil, spread onto baking sheet and roast for 30-40 minutes, flipping halfway, at 400F or until veggies are soft.