As women, our bodies follow a unique infradian rhythm resulting in the 28 day ebb and flow of our menstrual cycle. Understanding and synching our nutrition to these phases can have profound effects on our overall well-being. Just as the seasons change throughout the year, our menstrual cycle brings us through four distinct phases: Inner Spring/Follicular, Inner Summer/Ovulation, Inner Autumn/Luteal, and Inner Winter/Menstruation (if you aren't familiar with the inner seasons you can listen to my podcast about them here). By eating in tune with our menstrual cycle, we can nourish our bodies in a way that supports hormone balance, enhances energy levels, optimises our health and reclaims our feminine power.
Inner Spring / Follicular Phase:
During the Inner Spring phase, our metabolism is slightly slower, and we may not feel as hungry. It's essential to listen to our bodies and opt for lighter foods that leave us feeling energized and uplifted. Embrace the freshness of spring by incorporating these foods into your diet:
Salads and veggies: Carrots, courgette, spinach and other leafy greens are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that promote vitality.
Probiotics: Kimchi, sauerkraut, rejuvelac, kefir etc. Adding in good bacteria can support digestion and fuel the microbiome for the rest of your cycle.
Light Proteins: Choose lean sources of protein such as chicken, fish, tofu, or tempeh to fuel your body without weighing it down.
Sprouted beans and seeds: For a light boost of healthy fats and essential nutrients.
Inner Summer / Ovulation Phase:
During Inner Summer, our bodies experience a peak in oestrogen levels, which often mean we feel more stable emotionally and have higher energy levels. We want to make sure that any excess oestrogen is metabolised so it's important to support the body's natural detoxification process here and maintain hormonal balance. Focus on foods that are high in fibre and rich in antioxidants:
High-Fibre Foods: Incorporate lighter grains like quinoa and oats to support healthy digestion and keep you feeling full.
More raw foods: As your body temperature peaks in this phase you may tolerate more raw foods here - salads and veggies.
Colourful Fruits: Enjoy antioxidant-rich fruits like oranges, berries, watermelon, and papaya to promote cellular health. These are also cooling foods which support the rise in temp during ovulation.
Herbal Teas: Sip on green tea or dandelion tea to aid in liver detoxification and reduce bloating.
Inner Autumn / Luteal Phase:
As we enter the Inner Autumn phase, our metabolism speeds up, and cortisol levels rise, increasing our caloric needs. It's essential to nourish our bodies with nutrient-dense foods and slow-release carbohydrates:
Complex Carbohydrates: Sweet potatoes, quinoa, and lentils provide sustained energy and prevent blood sugar spikes.
Healthy Fats: Avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil support hormone production and promote satiety.
Prebiotic foods: Stewed apples, pears, legumes and other prebiotics help to eliminate excess oestrogen in the body and support digestion when progesterone is high (which slows down digestion in the second half of your cycle)
Magnesium-Rich Foods: Incorporate spinach, pumpkin seeds, and bananas to help alleviate premenstrual symptoms. Maybe even some dark chocolate!
Inner Winter / Menstruation:
The Inner Winter phase marks the onset of menstruation when hormone levels are at their lowest, and body temperature drops. During this phase, prioritize foods that provide warmth and nourishment to support your body through the menstrual cycle:
Iron-Rich Foods: Consume foods like red meat and beans to replenish iron lost during menstruation.
Healthy Soups and Stews: With your body temperature at it's lowest, opt for warming soups with a mix of vegetables, legumes, and lean proteins to provide comfort and essential nutrients.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fatty fish like salmon or chia seeds, omega-3s help reduce inflammation and ease menstrual cramps. Healthy fats at menstruation can also support health ovulation at the other side of your cycle.
Seafood/Seaweed: Kelp, nori, oysters and other seafoods can help the body to replenish zinc and iron which is lost during your bleed.
Understanding the natural shifts that occur during each phase of the menstrual cycle empowers women to tailor their nutrition to their body's unique needs. By embracing the Inner Spring, Inner Summer, Inner Autumn, and Inner Winter with the right foods, we can harmonize our hormones, boost our energy levels, and support overall well-being. So, let's embrace this natural rhythm and nourish our bodies with the right foods as we move through the beautiful cycles of womanhood.
For further reading on this topic check out the book 'In the flow' by Alisa Vitti
If you'd like more 1:1 support on this journey or have any questions then do get in touch.
My work encourages you to utilise the healing and transformational powers of the menstrual cycle and reclaim your cyclical nature in a cultural system that feels limiting or linear. Your cycle is your super power!
If you want to learn more about working with your cycle you can :