A doctor has revealed how small dietary changes can ease symptoms during each phase of your menstrual cycle.
Los Angeles-based physician Alona Pulde is the woman behind the groundbreaking documentary Forks Over Knives and co-wrote the best-selling diet plan of the same name.
In collaboration with Lifesum, she has revealed how small changes in what we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel during our period – from consuming iron-rich foods during menstruation to clearing excess estrogen with fermented foods.
“What you eat plays a huge role in creating overall health, including how you feel during your cycle,” says Dr. Pulde.
“Most people think menstruation is just a week-long event, but in reality it’s a month-long cycle and nutritious foods can help replenish your body and balance your hormones.”
Here Femail reveals exactly what types of foods you should eat at each stage of your cycle to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs.
Los Angeles-based physician Alona Pulde revealed how nutrition affects you during each stage of your menstrual cycle
These are the first two weeks (days 1-12) of the cycle and overlap with the menstrual phase. During this phase, estrogen levels begin to rise again and energy increases.
With more energy, you may also notice more motivation to exercise and get back on your healthy diet.
Eating fiber-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) and fermented foods (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut) helps metabolize and remove excess estrogen.
“At this stage, it’s common to have more energy,” says Dr. Pulde. “Now is a good time to add nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, including fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and whole grains.”
During the first two weeks of your period, Dr. Alona Pulde to eat high fiber foods and fermented foods and drinks like Kombucha (stock image)
Between the follicular and luteal phases is ovulation, which lasts from about day 12-14. During this time, you may get a bit of an appetite, so it’s important to eat enough of the types of foods that fill you up, especially those that are high in fiber and high in nutrients.
These include fruits (berries, apples, pears, bananas), vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, artichoke, kale, sweet potatoes), legumes (beans, lentils, peas), whole grains (quinoa, oats, whole-wheat pasta, barley) and nuts /seeds (almonds, pistachios, sesame/pumpkin/sunflower seeds).
This is also a great time to make sure you’re consuming healthy fats, including avocados, chia or flax seeds, walnuts, etc.
Eat regularly to maintain stable blood sugar levels and always pack a nutritious snack so you can quickly regain some energy.
Some snack ideas include avocado and spinach toast, hummus and cucumber or carrots, frozen banana and peanut butter and edamame. Make sure you stay hydrated during the day by carrying a water bottle with you at all times and using apps like Lifesum to track your water intake.
“Remember, everyone’s bodies work differently and our needs are different,” adds Dr. Pulde. “Focusing on a balanced, varied nutrient-dense diet that provides adequate energy is essential — not just for performance, but for our overall well-being.”
Between the follicular and luteal phases is ovulation, when the doctor recommends eating healthy fats like avocado and eating at regular intervals to maintain stable blood sugar levels. stock image
These are the last two weeks (day 14-28) of the cycle. During this phase, both estrogen and progesterone are elevated. This is when the pain feels a little more intense because large amounts of prostaglandins are released, a chemical that stimulates contractions.
To help lower levels and thus reduce cramping, focus on anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3 (walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds), antioxidants such as vitamin C (found in fruits — especially berries — and vegetables) and vitamin E (found in in leafy greens, avocado and whole grains).
“It’s normal to feel tired at this stage,” says Dr. Pulde. ‘Make sure to eat complex carbohydrates that contain fiber and vitamins to balance moods and curb cravings, including whole grains, beans and starchy vegetables.
“Try to avoid or reduce caffeine and alcohol. And when energy levels drop, healthy snacks are ideal, such as hummus and veggie sticks, apples and almond butter, and homemade fruit and nut bars.’
During the last two weeks of your cycle, the doctor recommends eating plenty of foods with anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3 to relieve the symptoms caused by increased estrogen and progesterone. stock image
This is the phase of your cycle when estrogen and progesterone levels are lowest; you lose your endometrium and bleeding occurs.
It usually lasts three to seven days and can be accompanied by cramping, fatigue, lower back pain, and mood swings.
When menstrual blood is lost, it is important to supplement your iron-rich foods with animal products such as red meat, poultry and fish (heme iron) or plant products including leafy vegetables, beetroot and legumes (non-heme iron).
During the menstrual phase, the doctor recommends eating iron-rich foods with animal products such as red meat, poultry and fish. stock image