26 January 2021
Hormones are thought of as the uncontrollable enemy—think: zits, moodiness—but they’re actually powerful players in the female ecosystem and when nutritionally supported can help improve sleep, energy levels, mood swings, and weight management. Female hormone cycles are broken into four main phases—menstruation, follicular, ovulatory and luteal—and each phase varies in the amount of estrogen and progesterone released. By consuming certain foods/food groups, you can help decrease the impact of uncomfortable hormonal symptoms.
Menstruation (low estrogen and progesterone levels 📉)
Menstruation consists of the period phase (the shedding of the uterine lining) and also the first few days of the follicular phase. Since estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest, iron levels can fall causing a general feeling of tiredness. Consuming mineral-rich foods during your period, especially if you already have low iron levels, can elevate energy and replenish key nutrients lost in the process of menstruation.
⚡️Pro Tip: Incorporate these nutrient dense, mood and energy supporting foods during menstruation:
Follicular Phase (high estrogen levels 📈)
This is the time between the first day of the period and ovulation when estrogen levels increase to prepare an egg for release. The follicular phase is when people generally feel their best—energized, confident, strong—and harness their inner most super powers to tackle physical, emotional and mental challenges. This is a great time to schedule more energy-consuming activities —meal prep being one of them!
⚡️Pro Tip: This surge in energy requires foods with more protein and healthy fats, which will also help your body prepare for the ovulation phase:
Ovulation (estrogen levels peak 📈)
The egg is released from the ovary with estrogen peaking just before release and dropping shortly afterwards. The high level of estrogen may suppress your appetite, possibly impacting hunger levels. Try consuming lighter foods that are still nutritious, such as smoothies, salads and broth-based veggie soups composed of proteins and fat to help sustain the positive energy one often feels. You’ll want plenty of fiber to detoxify increased hormones, and foods rich in zinc and magnesium since they tend to decrease during this time.
⚡️Pro Tip: Try incorporating some of the following foods during this phase:
Luteal Phase (high levels of progesterone 📈)
The time between ovulation and before the start of menstruation when the body prepares for a possible pregnancy, causing progesterone production to peak and then drop. This is when you could find yourself feeling more calm and relaxed. Progesterone may stimulate hunger and intense cravings could start kicking in during this time. Cravings are unique to the individual, but they’re often salty, sweet, carb-y, oily foods. Listening to your body and indulging in cravings is okay, all things in moderation after all, but it’s also important to balance those indulgent foods with nutrient dense foods rich in magnesium, B vitamins and essential fatty acids. Not only will increasing these nutrients support progesterone production and help reduce symptoms such as painful cramps, breast tenderness and mood swings, but they’ll also assist with helping you feel more in control of your cravings.
⚡️Pro Tip: Try incorporating these options and see how you feel:
The Take Away
While it may seem daunting to follow what to eat during each phase, remember that this is an outline. Keeping a well-balanced diet full of variety is key for both hormonal health and overall health. Hormone phases are special, they show how incredible your body truly is. Your hormones are working hard so why not throw them a helping hand through nutritional support and make them the most harmonious hormones out there?