fbpx

Month: May 2018

Eating for your menstrual cycle

eating for your menstrual cycle

 

Since I started tracking my period a few years ago, I’ve become much more aware of the different phases of my period, the dips in my energy and mood and what I can eat to support my hormones in each phase.

 

Menstrual Phase

The menstrual phase is when many of us feel super low with less energy and cramps and pain, to boot. During this time, I love eating lots of iron rich foods like grass-fed organic beef and lamb, dark leafy greens, chickpeas and lentils to rebuild my iron levels and lots of vitamin C foods like citrus, berries, peppers and broccoli to help absorb the iron from the iron-rich vegetables. 

 

I continue to eat lots of good fats to fight any sugar (chocolate!!!) cravings.

 

Do you notice a difference in what you eat in the week of your period?

 

Follicular Phase 

This usually happens for a week after your period ends.  This is the time in your cycle when you feel amazing, with great, glowing skin and loads of energy. Can anyone relate to this?

 

I love eating lots of leafy greens, flax, pumpkin, beetroot, chilli, watermelon and oily fish during this time of my cycle to support hormone clearance, blood circulation and give my immune system a boost.

 

Do you notice a difference in what you eat (and crave!) in the week after you finish your period?

 

Ovulatory Phase 

Yes, this phase is still important even when we’re not trying to get pregnant! The menstrual cycle has been called the fifth vital sign and ovulation is a sign that things are working as they should.

 

So what do you eat to support your body when you ovulate? Well, eating a diet rich in fruit and veg, free-range meat and dairy, wild fish and some whole grains will support ovulation – this is something that’s helpful through your cycle.

 

Vitamin D foods like mushrooms, wild salmon, sardines, organic milk and eggs  and a variety of fruit and veg in a range of colours have loads of antioxidants and phytonutrients that help support the immune system during this phase.

 

Luteal Phase 

My luteal phase, which is at the end of my cycle, right before my period, is when I need lots of healthy fats to support skin health and prevent the breakouts that are so common during this time. I also eat lots of magnesium and tryptophan foods to help support my mood – avocado, wild salmon, sesame and sunflower seeds are great during this time.

 

Would you eat for your cycle? For some, this is too much detail, so here’s a few basic food principles that will support your cycle no matter what phase you’re in.

 

  1. Eat lots of vegetables every day, especially green leafy and cruciferous vegetables. 
  2. Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables.
  3. Drink lots of water.
  4. Eat and drink fermented foods.
  5. Eat wild caught fish a few times a week.
  6. Be mindful about the way you eat sugar and drink caffeine and alcohol.

 

Do you eat to support your cycle? Would you try it?
Are you feeling perplexed by your cycle? Do you want to finally get to grips with period pain, mood swings and sugar cravings? Book in for a free 30 minute Hormone Health Review!

 

Natural ways to manage mental health

Le'Nise Brothers yoga self care

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week here in the UK and it’s so important that we continue to have these important conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

 

I know what it’s like to be depressed, anxious and have that feeling that you’re never going to get past it. I now know it’s possible to do this and I do a lot to manage my mental health and wellbeing. That means being vigilant about what I eat & drink, how I exercise, who I let into my life and having an active practice of self-care. I take things day by day.

 

I never used to talk about this side of me, thinking there was something shameful about my anxiety and depression, like I needed to hide it in order to present my best self to the world. Campaigns like this are important because it takes away the stigma and shows that talking about mental health matters.

 

What about you? Are you comfortable talking about your mental health?

 

The impact of food and alcohol on mental health

 

What we eat and what we drink (and what we don’t eat & drink) can have a huge effect on our moods and mental wellbeing.

 

Alcohol, for example, can affect our mental health simply because it depletes B vitamins and these are what we use to produce serotonin, our happy hormone. This is the ‘hangxiety’ that some of us experience after a few drinks.

 

Food can also help us manage our moods. Getting lots of veg, especially leafy greens and cruciferous veg helps feed the good bacteria in our gut and it’s this good bacteria that helps produce serotonin (that wonderful happy hormone!)

 

Yoga, yoga, yoga! 

 

Okay, you might read this part of the post and think I’m a bit biased. Yes, it’s true that I love yoga (I do at least 30 minutes every day!) and I start my yoga teacher training in two weeks time. BUT it really is beneficial.

 

Research shows that yoga can help us better regulate our response to stressful situations and can decrease our heart rate, blood pressure and how quickly we breath in and out.

 

It’s true that yoga can never stop anxiety and depression. However, the research shows and what I know from my personal experience, is that it’s an incredible way to proactively manage mental health and manage symptoms when they crop up.

 

I’ve been leaning on my yoga pretty hard recently, in both the physical and breath practice, in order to help manage the anxiety that a pretty wild family situation has caused. The simple act of being in the flows of the different poses helps my brain shut off and adding in the breathing helps calm me down and bring some perspective. I take my breath work into the rest of my day and it helps a lot.

 

Have you seen the benefits of yoga on your mental health? 

 

Try meditation

 

In the last few weeks, I’ve been trying to add in a few minutes of meditation after each yoga practice. I do shavasana and then I go into my meditation pose. On my Instagram StoriesI’ve been calling what I do #reallifemeditation because for me, there isn’t a perfect meditation scenario. It’s about trying to squeeze it in where I can, in my day to day life, and trying not to let my mind wander too much.

 

I got an amazing message from one of my nutrition colleagues, which put what I’m trying to do in perspective. She shared something her dad said to her about meditation: it’s not about having an absence of thought, but merely observing your thoughts and letting them be.

 

So when I meditated earlier this week and thought about whether Meghan Markle was doing okay, whether she does yoga with her mom, remembering to floss before I went to the dentist, these were all thoughts that I now just need to observe, rather than stressing out that I can’t empty my mind.

 

Studies show that mindful meditation that incorporates breath work helps reduce noradrenaline, one of our stress hormones. So whether you can meditate for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, it’s can become a wonderful part of your mental health toolbox to help manage anxiety and depression.

 

Would you try meditating?

 

Get into the sun

 

Do you ever feel a bit anxious or depressed and then suddenly feel your mood lift a bit once you head outside into the sun? Some of that could be vitamin D!

 

Vitamin D is an incredible hormone (no, it’s not actually a vitamin!) that helps improve mood, build strong bones and support our immune system. We have vitamin D receptors on many of the cells in our bodies and the easiest (and cheapest way!) to get it is from the sun! ☀

 

Research shows that vitamin D plays an important role in regulating mood and keeping depression at bay, which explains why many of us feel a little bit better when we’ve got a bit of sun.

 

During the winter, it’s important to get your levels tested at your GP or privately to know how much you need to supplement. During late spring and summer, get outside into the sun! Just 10 minutes of sun exposure (without sunscreen) is all it takes to keep your vitamin D levels topped up!

 

Do you notice a difference in your mood when you’ve been in the sun?

Do you track your menstrual cycle?

Do you track your menstrual cycle?

 

As you would expect, I’m a huge advocate of this. Our menstrual cycles have been called the fifth vital sign and when you keep track of it, you can get so much amazing information about:

  • the length of your cycle (not every woman has a 30 day cycle!)
  • the length and heaviness of your menstrual bleed
  • when you start experiencing PMS symptoms such as low moods, bloating, acne, headaches and cramps
  • when you ovulate
  • any peaks and troughs in energy and mood during your cycle
  • when to expect your period

 

All this information will help you start to become more in tune to your body. You start to understand why you might be feeling down, when you’re more energetic and how certain food and exercise affect you.

 

Even if your period arrives like clockwork every month, it’s still good to track your cycle so that you know if anything changes. You’ll also understand so many other things about your cycle, including what I’ve listed above.

 

There are so many women who like clockwork, feel full of self-doubt a few days each month. Tracking menstrual cycles helps understand exactly when this is happening (most likely in the luteal phase right before you start to menstruate) and once you are aware of this, you can then do something about it!

 

We don’t have to accept the narrative of pain and emotional upheaval being a normal part of having a period, because it doesn’t have to be this way! Yes, really!

 

Here are a few apps that many of my clients have found useful for tracking their cycles:

Clue

Eve

My Period Calendar

Flo

 

Do you track your cycle? What have you learned from tracking your cycle?

 

Are you feeling perplexed by your cycle? Do you want to finally get to grips with period pain, mood swings and sugar cravings? Book in for a free 30 minute Hormone Health Review!

 

SaveSaveSaveSave

Want to start running? Here’s a guide on how to do it!


 
The lovely Dorota from Isleworth Running Club has written a post to help anyone who’s thinking about starting to run with all the things you need to know. 

 

Commit!

In my opinion, nothing happens for us until we actually commit. You have to really make a conscious decision that this is what you want to do. Once this is clear in your mind and in your heart, you won’t hesitate about going for a run the next time it rains. Understand your WHY, commit, pick a start date and tell everyone about it. Hopefully, you won’t want to disappoint them.
 

Find Running Buddy or Join A Running Club

Most people will need some additional motivation to start running and to keep at it. One of the best methods is to find a running buddy. Ideally, someone at a similar level to you. You can then go through the journey together and share your highs and lows with each other. Or join a running club. They are full of people who are passionate about running and will do a lot to support you.
 

Running Apps

It might just happen that you will not be able to find a buddy or a running club. Nowadays, there are multitude of running apps which you can use in different ways to stay focused. You can collect distance badges/medals and setting up a weekly/monthly goal is an option. Some runners join virtual runs. Some apps have commentary and can crack jokes during your run which makes the whole experience a bit more fun. Just figure out what suits you best.
 

Running Shoes and Clothes

You can start with a cheaper pair of running shoes but my advice is – go to a shop and try them on. Rather than just looking pretty on your feet, your shoes should fit well and be slightly bigger than your standard walking shoes to avoid blisters or losing your toenails. No one can criticise you for going on a run in a cotton T-shirt and many people do just that. If you tend to sweat a lot and you often run in a cooler weather, you should consider a polyester running top. It will dry much faster and you won’t feel cold after the run. If you’re a woman you should invest in a sports bra. Trust me, it’s worth it.
 

User Training Plan

The most popular training plan for beginners is Couch to 5k (c25k). It involves a 5min warm-up, 20 to 25 min walking/jogging intervals and a 5 min cool down, 3 days a week. There is a day or two of rest in between for your body to recover. Each week, you increase the jogging and reduce the walking. This method is great because it splits your main goal into manageable chunks. Every week, you get a sense of achievement. If you don’t manage to keep up with the schedule, then repeat a week if necessary. If you feel like it’s too easy start from week 2 or 3 but always remember to have a rest day in between.
 

Pre & Post Run Advice

Firstly, your meal before the run should include some carbohydrates and some protein. If you have a substantial meal, then make sure you have it 2 hours before the run or 1 hour before in case of a lighter meal.
 
Secondly, warm up before the run by doing a few minutes of brisk walking. You are then less likely  to get out of breath too quickly or get a stitch.
 
Thirdly, cooling down after helps you lower your heart rate and slow down your breathing gradually so you avoid feeling dizzy. Also, when you keep moving after the run it helps your lymphatic system to get rid of lactic acid from your muscles.
 
Fourthly, do some stretches of your quads, hip flexors, calves and hamstrings to prevent cramps, relax muscles and makes them more flexible.
 
Finally, have some protein after then run to help your body recover and be ready for the next challenge.

 

Thanks, Dorota!

 

Are you inspired? Check out the Isleworth Running Club for their runs for runners of all levels. 

Photo by Roman Koester on Unsplash

Subscribe to weekly notes from our founder, Le’Nise!