By Carley Mendes of Oh Baby Nutrition
Just like the cycles of the moon, a woman's cycle is experienced in four divisible phases. During this cyclical transition every month, a menstruating woman is given the opportunity to shed, release and reflect. As women we should honor our moon cycle, an outward reminder of our ability to create life. The focus during menstruation should be on nourishing your body with respect and gratitude.
It’s a good time to consume foods rich in iron to replete stores and foods high in vitamin C to help increase the absorption of iron, like: berries, papaya, peaches and broccoli. Including cruciferous vegetables in your meals like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale help support estrogen metabolism.
For many women, unbalanced hormones can cause a dominance or deficiency that can negatively affect mood, motivation, appetite and perspective. It's especially common for premenstrual symptoms to change in type or severity after having a baby. Being mindful of your symptoms can provide insight and help you find balance.
If you experience cravings, especially for chocolate or sweets, ensure that you’re consuming sufficient protein. Have smaller, more frequent meals and don’t go too long without eating, which can lead to irritability.
Cinnamon can help balance blood sugar, which will decrease cravings. It has also been shown to help regulate cycles by changing how the body responds to insulin.
Try cacao instead of chocolate. Raw cacao contains a mood-enhancing amino acid and significantly more magnesium than processed chocolate. Magnesium is a very common deficiency but it’s an important mineral for the production of progesterone, a hormone that's intricately involved in the menstrual cycle.
Anxiety or Depression
Ensure that you include rich sources of vitamin D, omega 3 & B12. This is especially important if you experience anxiety and/or depression after childbirth.
Vitamin D is a common deficiency and rapid skeletal growth in third trimester taxes a pregnant mother’s vitamin D stores, leaving her more susceptible to depression. Include: wild salmon, sardines, pasture raised eggs and safe sun exposure.
Postpartum women are also at higher risk of having lower levels of omega 3 which can contribute to mood disorders and depression. Their own stores are mobilized in late pregnancy and during breastfeeding for brain development of baby. Include: marine algae, walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds.
If your PMS symptoms include bloating, edema, breast tenderness, or weight gain reduce alcohol and excess caffeine, which are dehydrating and will cause your body to retain even more water. Refined salt and processed foods will also cause an accumulation of fluids in the body.
Increase potassium rich foods to balance sodium. Include: banana, avocado, dark leafy greens, and squash.
Dandelion tea and parsley support the kidneys in removing excess water from the body. Although these should both be avoided if breastfeeding as dandelion tea can be diuretic which will lower breast milk supply, and parsley can also decrease milk production.
Drink extra water at this time to encourage the release of excess fluids.
If you experience pain in joints, lower back, abdomen or head reduce inflammatory foods: processed sugar, refined grain products, alcohol, pasteurized diary, and industrial seed oils like canola. Also include anti-inflammatory roots like turmeric and ginger.
Magnesium rich foods can help minimize cramping, headaches, and lower back pain. Include soaked/sprouted nuts & seeds, dark leafy greens, broccoli and cacao.