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How I Eat for Hormone Health on my Period!
I’m going to share a quick overview of How I Eat for Hormone Health on my Period. When I am menstruating, there are a few things I do a little bit differently and some guiding principles I keep in mind for optimal hormone health.
Hormone health is especially important to me because I have previously experienced amenorrhea—complete loss of my period, for many years. It took over 5 years for me to restore my period fully, but maintaining hormone health still remains a priority.
Hormone health is essential for overall health, and it can be really easy to support your cycle with simple, mindful additions to your diet and giving it what it needs. A lot of my guiding principles are informed by Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Cycle Syncing. *Please note that nothing I am sharing is medical advice, and should not be regarded as such. Although everything I’m sharing is natural, there is always the potential for food and herbs to have a serious impact on your body, individual health concerns and/or supplements. It’s important to consult with your doctor to see if these remedies may be a fit for you!
I have no food rules (in general), however when I’m on my period, there are a few things I like to keep in mind. Here’s how I eat for hormone health.
Reducing sugar intake → Although it’s common to crave sugar before or during your period, I try to reduce my intake because it has been suggested that sugar may worsen period related symptoms as an inflammatory food. I opt for natural sugars in fruits and I won’t say no to dark chocolate but I am slightly more mindful of my sugar consumption during this time.
More whole foods and less processed, refined foods → This is something I strive to do regardless of whether or not I’m menstruating but I do think it’s important to support your body as much as possible in the first few days of the cycle. Whole Foods are more nourishing and contain the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Many highly refined foods can also be inflammatory, so go whole foods when you can!
Favouring warm foods over cold foods → In both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods are classified as “warm” or “cold” foods which implies they are foods that have either a cooling or warming effect on the body. There are also beliefs about the physical temperature of food consumed and it’s effect on the body. Typically, physically warm and warming foods are recommended to support inflammation during your period. I generally say goodbye to smoothies and iced drinks, and opt for lots of soups and stews with warning spices instead!
Minimizing caffeine consumption → It has been suggested that caffeine may be linked to prolonged, heavier menstruation and potential exacerbation of period related symptoms. For this reason I try to chill out with the caffeine at least for the first few days of my cycle. Also, it’s important to give the body rest when menstruating, and caffeine can spike cortisol and excite the body. Finally, limiting caffeine can be helpful in understanding your body’s true energy levels. When you’re caffeinating, it can be more difficult to gauge whether you need more rest.
Mindful of macros → I’m outspoken about my dislike for counting macros or calories, so I don’t do that on my period (or ever) but I am mindful of what primary macronutrients are in the food I’m eating. I like to make sure I’m eating protein and healthy fats to support my cycle so I’ll reach for foods like legumes, avocados, hemp seeds and check in each meal to make sure I’ve got some element of protein and fat present. No tracking, just increased mindfulness.
On the topic of food choices, there are a few kinds of foods I like to add to my diet. The focus shouldn’t be taking away, but rather supplementing and adding in! I really do believe that food is medicine.
As mentioned, I incorporate more healthy fats and plant protein into my diet while on my period. I love the FloLiving app, which gives you recommendations based on the theory of Cycle Syncing and when menstrauting, fats are recommend to stabilize blood sugar whereas protein provides amino acids – the raw materials needed for making hormones.
In addition to fats and proteins, I go heavy on the greens and nutrient dense foods. The idea is really to fuel the body when it needs it the most. I like to eat fermented, probiotic rich foods, omega-3 rich foods and sea vegetables for iron (seaweed, dulse, etc.). I’ll share some example meals that incorporate the foods I like to focus on below!
This is what a sample menu might look like for a day during the first few days of my cycle. The recipes contain ingredients specifically chosen to support my hormone health, and are very nutrient dense.
- Moon tea → An herbal tea that supports the body’s reproductive system and can help to reduce menstrual related symptoms.
- Moon Muesli → A delicious, hormone supportive breakfast packed with magnesium, iron, protein and fiber.
- Tempeh, Broccoli and Sweet Potato Hash → High in protein, vitamin A rich food, cruciferous veg and fermented tempeh. Boost by serving with avocado if you’d like.
- Miso Soup → A warming stew with probiotic miso, iron rich sea vegetables and boosted with mushrooms and tofu.
Other things to keep in mind
Rest is key for me, especially during the first few days of my cycle. It’s ok to feel tired, low energy, and sleep in a little bit. In fact, you’re probably doing your body a solid by getting in a little extra sleep. On that note, I usually skip working out as well, or I’ll keep it minimal and stretch, or go for a walk just to release any tension in the body.
Honouring your body and tuning into what it needs is key. If you’re feeling tired, let your body rest and skip the workout. If you’re feeling high energy, use your best judgement and introduce a little movement. All emotions and feelings are valid, as are cravings. I think it’s healthy to honour cravings to some degree, so if that means a little dark chocolate, cake, cookie, whatever that looks like for you, it’s okay to enjoy it in moderation. A lot of my recommendations focus on optimal eating, but it’s important to maintain balance, too.
If you try any of these recipes, or find these tips helpful, tag me on Instagram @veggiekins! As always, I love when you share your thoughts in the comments below, and would love to know whether you switch anything up when it’s your time of the month.