You know the tell tale signs: fatigue, cramping, maybe hysterically crying at a dog food commercial. Your period is coming. But very few of us realize that our menstrual cycles affect our lives–and our digestive systems–every single day.
Throughout your cycle, you’ll feel rises and falls in energy, estrogen and experience changes to your face, body and skin. These can affect your eating habits, so it’s a good idea to track your cycle along with your diet.
Days 1 – 5
Your cycle starts on the first day of your period. This is when estrogen and progesterone are low. However, spices like cinnamon can reduce painful periods and saffron can reduce the mental and physical symptoms of PMS.
In addition, this is the time when you will crave comfort food the most. While carbs and sugar might taste good in the short term, in the long run they will ultimately make you feel worse.
Days 6 – 14
According to Livestrong.com, this is the time when you are going to be mostly feeling good, confident and powerful. In other words, it’s the time to get stuff done! During these days, you’ll need fewer calories due to higher levels of estrogen and your body will also be better at burning carbs for fuel.
But before you run off to the bread buffet, you might notice that you feel a bit more fatigued that normal. That might be because your body has lost a lot of iron during your period due to blood loss. To reach the recommended 18 milligrams per day of iron try upping your fruit and vegetable intake. Oh, and snack on a few pieces of dark chocolate, which contains iron. This is something we can all get on board with.
Days 15 – 17
The shortest part of your phase is ovulation, which usually happens during days 15-17. This is when you will have the most energy and it’s a great time to sneak in high intensity workouts. Be sure to eat healthy meals with lean proteins and complex carbs to fuel those trips to the gym. So the next time you rock an exercise class with ease look at a calendar and thank your ovulating self for the mood and energy boost. Or don’t, because that’s weird.
Day 18 to 28
Fatigue can be a serious issue during this part of your cycle. Your body might need more calories to sustain it as progesterone levels begin to rise. Plus you might also start craving higher fat food like French fries because your serotonin levels tend to decline. Try to avoid giving into those cravings by sneaking in a few extra workouts, staying hydrated and eating a high fiber diet to stave off constipation.
The Never Ending Cycle
Period cycles and how you respond to them are different for every woman including the fact that not all women menstruate. It’s important to track your period–not just so you know when to put a few extra tampons in your purse but to understand what might be happening in your body. The extra knowledge might give you an answer as to why you are having a rough day or are feeling sluggish. That’s just good knowledge. Period.
For more info on how your body reacts on your menstrual cycle, watch Glamour’s video “This is Your Period in 2 Minutes.”
Skin looking parched? Find facials and more here.
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 Shape, “Should You Eat Based On Your Menstrual Cycle?” Julia Malacoff, March 2018
 Livestrong, “14 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism,” Andrea Cespedes, October 2017