by Alyssa Madill, Feed the Fire Nutrition & Wellness –
Eating in season is pretty easy to do living on Vancouver Island in autumn. Nature and agriculture go through such beautiful cycles each year, providing exactly the resources and nutrients that we need to stay healthy.
The human body mirrors the cyclical nature of our outer world in its own incredible way, with the complexity of the menstrual cycle. This is about so much more than procreation and painful symptoms; it has the potential to support systemic health and quality of life when brought into balance. Recent nutrition and lifestyle research indicates that people with periods can optimize their cycles, reduce symptoms and maximize the benefits of natural fluctuations in hormones. This can be carried out by eating and living in such a way that aligns with each unique phase of the menstrual cycle.
There are four phases of each cycle: menstrual, follicular, ovulatory and luteal. Each phase serves a specific purpose – not only for reproductive health but for brain chemistry, metabolism, musculoskeletal function and more.
Providing the body with specific nutrients and types of foods that support each phase can have profound effects, and may reduce the incidence of common concerns including PMS, hormone imbalance and burnout.
Let’s break it down into best practises for each phase of the cycle, so that you can start living in better alignment with your cyclical nature. Check out the recommended fall favourites within each phase so you can eat within your cycle and the season!
The Menstrual Phase (day one until bleeding stops). Focus on nutrient-dense foods that contain plenty of minerals, protein, fats, antioxidants and fibre. Borscht made from bone broth and containing seaweed would do the trick! For lifestyle – consider this a time of rest. Try to avoid intense exercise, stress-inducing activities or too much social interaction.
Fall Favourites: beetroot, kale, mushrooms.
The Follicular Phase (after menstruation, leading up to ovulation). Consume plenty of veggies, fermented foods and high quality proteins. For lifestyle – your energy is likely returning if things are in balance. It might feel good to take a vigorous hike up Mount Work or a run around Elk Lake.
Fall favourites: carrots, cranberries, parsnips.
The Ovulatory Phase (mid cycle). Time for fresh produce, although with colder weather you’ll be better off gently cooking your vegetables. During this phase it’s important to include liver supportive foods like cruciferous veggies (brussels, broccoli, etc) and lemon water. Try to stay on top of digestive function by staying well hydrated. For lifestyle – this is generally a time of high energy, so bring on the harder workouts like spin class; it’s also a great time to be productive and socialize in a safe manner.
Fall favourites: brussels sprouts, pumpkin seeds.
The Luteal Phase (after ovulation, leading up to menstruation). Support this phase with a focus on complex carbohydrates like squash. This will keep energy levels and moods relatively stable. For lifestyle – slow down your workouts, allow for rest, and tune in.
Fall favourites: apple, cauliflower, garlic, pear, pumpkin, squash, turkey.
For more information, visit www.feedthefirewellness.com.