Don ye now our pads and diva cups—‘tis that time of year (and month). The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes treats, traditions, and family members from out of town—including your period. Whichever winter holiday you’re celebrating, you’re bound to be surrounded by delicious food for the next few months—and your menstrual cycle’s coming along for the ride. Fa la la la la…
So, the question: Can I indulge during the holidays, especially when I’m on my period?
Short answer? Um, YEAH. Yes. Is life worth living? Caloric restriction has been shown study after study to lead to binging behaviors and serious side effects, particularly on your hormones. So don’t be a Scrooge.
Long answer? Absolutely. Let’s show you how to indulge with your flow in mind—and actually enjoy.
The Truth: Your Cycle & Common Holiday Fear Foods
Let’s talk sugar, alcohol, fat, and gluten.
Refined sugar won’t bite—but make sure you fuel up.
Refined sugar comes from plant sources and is used in all its forms (agave, white and brown sugar, corn syrups, etc.) to sweeten delectable gingerbread cookies, tres leches cakes, and more. It’s nearly impossible to avoid during the holidays—and you do not have to. Just note that during ovulation (about 12 - 14 days before your next period), a menstruating body is especially vulnerable to insulin spikes, i.e. when blood sugar levels surge and crash quickly.
Those spikes result in sluggishness and hunger, so if you find yourself feeling a little groggy during White Elephant, or like all the holiday flan you ate hasn’t filled you up at all — try folding some low-to-moderate glycemic foods into your intake, too. Potatoes, whole grains, and veggies will help satiate you—and have a much lower and slower effect on your blood sugar.
Holiday drinks are delish—just hydrate between.
As a coquito enthusiast, the holidays are my time to shine — and sip. A couple of drinks at a gathering is more than fine (‘tis the season, after all)! The not-so-great-news is that a surplus of alcohol can affect your endocrine system, ramping up your estrogen levels and leading to intense cramps, dehydration, or a heavier flow. So if you’re in your luteal phase, which immediately follows ovulation, take extra-special care to hydrate on the reg and monitor how your body feels.
Fats are fine. Seriously.
We do not fear fats in 2023—end of story. Medical and wellness experts have made it clear that high fat doesn’t equal bad; in fact, healthy fats can regulate blood sugar and restore hormonal balance—both crucial for all phases of your cycle. Some high fat foods known to be fantastic for you? Cheese (don’t you dare skip that charcuterie board), dark chocolate (babka, here we come), and nuts.
Gluten can go either way.
While some women require and truly benefit from gluten-free diets, overwhelming evidence finds that gluten’s effect on your menstrual cycle depends on if you have a pre-existing sensitivity. So, if you are indeed sensitive or allergic to gluten, then yes, keep in mind that delicious kringle may lead to discomfort later—and change your digestion game forever with GOGO Bloating + Gas. Otherwise? Don’t stress about it (and try GOGO, regardless.)
Here’s How to (Actually) Enjoy the Holidays on Your Period
Ignore the myths and silence the Scrooges. The holiday season is primetime for fear mongering around food, so prepare to hear plenty of unsolicited warnings of “what to avoid”, black-and-white diet talk, and buzzwords like “holiday binge.” Listen to your body and your doctor—not the noise.
Keep up that daily routine! Stretch, take your vitamins (here’s a rundown on one of our faves), and exercise as you usually would this season.
When in doubt, swap it out. If you’re curious about tasty adjustments to common festive dishes that accommodate allergies and other sensitivities, there are tons of alternatives available. Exhibit A: these gluten-free gingerbread cookies.
Drink ALL the H20. Staying hydrated at every point in your cycle is incredibly important, but in the throes of holiday fun, it’s easy to forget to take a sip—so make room for water early and often! Hydration also helps fight eggnog breath. Don’t ask me how I know.
Whether you’re exchanging gifts, lighting menorahs, or bringing in a new year, this is a time to be amongst family and friends, reflect, and partake in meaningful traditions. The very last thing you should be doing is spending it agonizing over every little thing you eat! Your cycle’s at its best when you’re not stressed — so enjoy every last bite of this holiday season.