Ever wonder why you might reach for dark chocolate more frequently during certain times of the month? Depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle (aka what your hormones are up to), your body may crave specific foods with nutrients that can improve your energy levels and mood.
We did some research to figure out which foods can help you feel your best, throughout your cycle!
Menstrual Phase (Days 1-5)
As your flow begins and iron levels dip (especially if you have a heavy flow), incorporate iron-rich foods in your diet:
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Proteins such as chicken, tofu, and fish
- Grains such as quinoa and fortified cereals
- Dark chocolate
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also improve how you feel. Studies show that they can help relieve menstrual pain (2012) and improve mood (2014). Try the following foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Flaxseed oil
Certain foods can also help fight inflammation and soothe muscle aches. A study in 2015 observed the effects of the curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, and found that it was effective in reducing the severity of PMS symptoms.
Follicular Phase (Days 6-14)
You may experience higher energy levels as estrogen and progesterone levels start to rise. With higher energy levels, you may want to incorporate foods that can support gut health and help your body metabolize hormones:
- Fermented vegetables
Ovulatory Phase (Days 15-17)
As your hormone levels surge, you may experience higher energy levels. Excessive amounts of estrogen can have a negative impact on your cycle, so you can help your liver metabolize estrogen with certain foods:
- Quinoa and whole grain pasta and breads
- Fruits such as grapefruit, grapes, and blueberries
- Vegetables such as kale, broccoli, radishes, brussels sprouts
Luteal Phase (Days 18-28)
This is where your hormone levels peak and then start to fall. As progesterone levels rise, you may experience fatigue, constipation, and bloating. This is also when PMS symptoms may set it. Try eating foods that have been shown to fight fatigue and support digestion.
To support digestion try:
- Leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
To fight fatigue, try foods rich in magnesium:
- Dark chocolate
- Pumpkin seeds
No matter which phase of the menstrual cycle you’re in, remember to listen to your body and that most foods are fine in moderation. If you have any questions about finding a meal plan that works for your food preferences and cycle, talk to a doctor or nutritionist!
Plus, if you haven’t heard, 2 FLO a day can help make your entire menstrual cycle a lot smoother, literally. By naturally balancing hormones, FLO’s ingredients help reduce the intensity of cramps, bloating, mood swings, and more!