The stereotypical period strife of yesteryear (think: cramps, mood swings, chocolate cravings, and weeping into a bowl of ice cream) is seriously played-out. It’s a totally unnecessary and now outdated cliché that perpetuates the myth that your hormones are a liability. Guess what? They’re not. In fact, they’re an asset.
But that’s only if you know how to feed and care for them so you can outsmart symptoms, avoid endocrine issues, and capitalize on your body’s brilliant chemistry so you can look, feel, and be your best! It just takes some practice and a system I named "cycle-syncing." That means eating and living in a way that complements your natural hormonal fluctuations so that you’re supporting your body to do what it’s meant to do when it’s meant to do it. So many of us have lost touch with our natural cues due to our modern lifestyles, and it can take some time to reacquaint ourselves with our body’s wants and needs.
While you shouldn’t ever feel weepy, exhausted, and hangry, you should be aware of the particular self-care strategies that are important to bring in during your period week. You shouldn’t feel crummy (if you do, may be a sign you’re experiencing hormonal imbalance), but you should experience subtle shifts in energy and focus that will dictate the best activities for you to do during this time. That’s because this is the time of the month when all your hormone levels quickly decline to their lowest concentrations. What does that mean for your diet, exercise, and romantic life? Here’s what to expect and how to truly care for yourself the week of your period:
1. Set an intention.
Set an intention this week to tune into your intuitive wisdom and honor the truth of your inner voice. Your menstrual phase is the time of the month when your right and left brain are communicating maximally, so use this enhanced awareness and eloquence to your advantage; this is the perfect time to really let your spirit guide your decisions. Try journaling about your desires and asking yourself how each major aspect of your life is really working for you. This deep and meaningful introspection will help guide you toward achieving your goals and filtering out the aspects of your life that no longer serve you.
2. Eat protein, healthy fats, and low-glycemic veggies.
This is the time in your cycle when it’s extra essential to load up on nutrient-rich foods. That means tons of protein and healthy fats. You’ll also want to eat a good amount of low-glycemic-index veggies and fruit to keep your blood sugar stable while providing your body with much-needed fiber and antioxidants. As you bleed, you’ll also be losing iron and zinc, so it’s important to remineralize your body with foods like seafood, kelp, and nori. And if you’re craving something warm and soothing, you can’t go wrong with healthy stews and soups.
3. Swap cardio for a slow burn.
Here’s one stereotypical trait that’s at least inspired by truth: You’re likely to feel a little more tired the week of your period. As your hormones drop, so does your energy, and that’s totally normal. This is not the time to push yourself through a punishing spin class or 10-mile run (or even a 2-mile run!), at least not the first few days of your cycle. Instead, give yourself permission to take it super easy, and try lighter exercises like walking, Kundalini or yin yoga, or mat Pilates to feel your best.
4. Indulge in some extra body-love.
The rule to remember here is that every woman is different. Some love to get freaky on their periods, and others prefer to pass on sex. Tune into what you’re truly wanting. If you do decide to get sexy, remember to use lube; many women think menstruation means extra lubrication, but the low hormones will actually leave your vagina dry. If you opt not to hit the sack with a partner, use this time to romance yourself. Have a spa day, read a book, and truly pamper your body—it’s performing an incredible feat and deserves extra love!
5. Drink some golden milk.
To get the most out of this critical phase, try adding a special beverage to your daily diet: golden milk tonic. This ancient elixir acts as a whole-body decongestant and helps ground you, giving you the ability to sort through everything from emotions and feelings to relationships, sexuality, sensual pleasure, and creativity. Follow the instructions below to brew a beverage that will really rev up your romantic energy this week—whether that’s directed at your partner or yourself:
- 1 cup water
- 5 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- ½ cup organic turmeric powder
- 1½ teaspoons black pepper
- Create a golden paste by blending the aforementioned ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Once this cools, you can keep it in the refrigerator in a jar for about two weeks and just take a dollop every time you make the milk.
- To make the milk, warm 2 cups of coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of the golden paste in a pot, and whisk until fully mixed.
- Add cinnamon, honey, and maple syrup to taste (optional to add cayenne pepper for a spicy kick).
If you’re still feeling out of sorts, try using an app that helps you map your symptoms of your cycle. You might be surprised to find how much better you feel once you make a few small tweaks during each phase of your cycle.
Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Vitti has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, and Women’s Health. She is the founder of The FLO Living Hormone Center, the world's first menstrual healthcare platform that has helped hundreds of thousands of women around the world put their period issues like PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, and PMS into remission naturally using her highly effective FLO Protocol and the FLO Balance Period Supplements, and the creator the MyFLO period app—the first and only functional medicine period tracker. She is also the author of the best-selling book WomenCode. She has presented at SXSW, TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, and SHE Summit and regularly trains women in the workplace on how to use her Cycle Syncing Method for greater creativity, productivity, and wellbeing at work.