So excited for all things food related, to optimize our cycles!
I started a new?series last week called?‘Balancing Hormones’?and so far, I’ve seen nothing but positive feedback, which is amazing and makes sharing personal details worth it!
My goal is to increase awareness on this topic and get more ladies talking about it because only good things can come from it. Some of you were surprised overall and had no idea how delicate our endocrine systems are and how much of what we experience internally relates to our hormone health.
I felt the same in the beginning and was shocked at how little I knew about hormones and my cycle in general, or that I should even be paying attention to PMS symptoms in the first place?!! It makes sense that cramps, bloating and hormonal acne are cry-out signs from our bodies, but we are so conditioned to think these symptoms are normal and to be expected, which is far from the truth… and that’s exactly why we’re here.
There’s no better time than the present to learn and take it all in, so I hope we can continue on together, as we share our experiences with each other! Thank you for sharing your stories so far. I’m really trying to be an open book and it helps when you share what’s going on too, so I feel a little less weird LOL!
Before we get started, be sure to check out Part One?of ‘Balancing Your Hormones’, which talks about the birth control pill, tracking your cycle and how I learned of this lifestyle.
Balancing Hormones Part Two: Foods For Each Cycle Phase
The food component of the Flo Living method has taken me a while to grasp but I’m finally understanding the why’s and how’s of the protocol, and its fascinating!!?
Since the pill depletes our bodies of micronutrients, it’s imperative we re-build our biochemistry and flood our systems with specific nutrients. There are different micronutrients we should focus on for each phase, a code per say, hence the title of Alisa’s book, Woman Code.?Our bodies are predictable and simple, yet we tend to think and treat them otherwise.
What I love about eating for my cycle is having something to follow each week that is different from the last but most of all, I love feeding my body with essential micronutrients specific to each phase, mostly because it makes so much sense. When we eat the right foods at the right times, we provide our bodies with the necessary tools to function optimally.
Think of food as fuel. You can’t drive a car without fuel in the tank and your body works just the same. Without proper food, it won’t run how you want it to.
Food truly is the most powerful and effective medicine we have to heal and balance hormones naturally. With each meal, we are one step closer to less cramps and less mood swings!!! Yesterday was actually the first day I noticed myself in the luteal phase because my energy was low, I was in a bad mood for no reason, my boobs were SOOO sore and my focus was nowhere to be found. It was so obvious to me in that moment! In the past, I would have thought I just sucked at life and was having a bad day, but now that I know why I was experiencing those symptoms, I’m even more motivated to stick with the protocol.
I still experience these symptoms because I just started cycle syncing less than a month ago, and bringing the body back to balance takes time.?Overall though, the purpose of eating for your cycle and ‘cycle syncing’ is for more than just hormone health. Your health as a whole will improve – sleep wise, skin wise, mood wise, energy wise, etc. and for the whole month! Everything is connected and once our bodies are fed to thrive, other areas of life will begin to thrive too.
***Obviously I can’t write or share every detail from the Woman Code book, so I highly suggest ordering it; you won’t regret it!
Where to begin?
The book dives deep into the diet aspect and the My Flo app guides you along the way throughout each month, so I’ll share what I’ve been doing and general tips or recommendations that I’ve gathered so far. ***Update: I finally released a ‘Hormone Healing Recipe & Lifestyle Plan’!!
Manage and Stabilize Your Blood Sugar:
This is the first step from Alisa and the most essential. It starts with what you do first thing in the morning and requires effort. Stabilizing your blood sugar doesn’t happen by chance. The absolute worst thing a woman can do is drink a cup of coffee first thing, on an empty stomach, which is exactly what I used to do except I drank a huge mason jar full of water first. The water part is great, the coffee part needed to go (more on what I replaced coffee with?here). No skipping meals, either! Eating a protein-rich breakfast within 90 minutes of waking is crucial. My go-to breakfast lately is this Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Smoothie.
Keep your meals and snacks consistent and within 3 or so hours of each other. Also, read this article from Alisa on ‘Blood Sugar and Hormones’ for more insight! Even if you eat an apple for a snack, have a spoonful of almond butter with it. You don’t want your glucose to spike and drop and spike and drop, you want it to hover as close to a flatline as possible with little fluctuations throughout the day, so adding a fat like almond butter will help keep things balanced. Cinnamon really helps with balancing blood sugar too! I sprinkle it in smoothies, no-bake energy bites, on an apple (with nut butter ha!) and on any kind of sweet treat (like these 2-ingredient mini coconut butter cups).
Cycle Syncing with Food:
In Woman Code, there are food and cooking suggestions, based on micronutrient support and to ensure estrogen is being properly metabolized, detoxified and flushed out from the body.?Start by planning meals around the recommended foods for each week. Consider what’s in season as well, to save money. This may require a big change from your current grocery shop and meal prep plan; just remember it will take time to fully grasp why certain foods are better for certain phases and why raw foods are better in the first half of the cycle, whereas cooked, lightly steamed and/or roasted foods are better in the second half. Your body and taste buds will eventually adjust!
Do you have to follow the recommended foods 100% of the time?
No, while the majority of foods should be phase-appropriate, just do the best you can. Prepare the recommended foods in a way that feels enjoyable to you. For example, if you don’t feel like turning on the oven to roast sweet potatoes in 100-degree weather, maybe grill or steam them instead; prepare the foods in a way that makes you happy!?
What if you eat a food that’s meant for a different phase than your in?
No worries, it’s okay if a portion of food comes from a different phase, as long as the majority of food is specific to the phase your in! Being human and all, it’s impossible to stick to the recommended foods at all times, but try the best you can. Right now, I’m really trying to give it my all but I don’t follow the plan 100%. If I eat something on the protocol for the luteal phase but I’m in the follicular phase, nothing bad will happen, but my body might perform better with the proper recommended food, ya know?
**Notice there are meat and seafood recommendations… obviously I eat vegan and these suggestions don’t work for me, so I focus on the legumes section instead!
Follicular Phase Foods😕
Focus on light, fresh and vibrant foods (& lots of avocado!) to feel energized. Think fermented veggies & sauerkraut, salads with lightly steamed or saut?ed veggies, green lentils, sprouted nuts and seeds, citrus fruits, vinegar based dressings, olives, cashew butter, ground flax oatmeal, dairy-free yogurt, etc.
Ovulatory Phase Foods:
Fill up on light, fiber-filled foods. Especially raw veggies (when appropriate) or lightly steamed veggies (like asparagus, brussels sprouts etc). You naturally will have more energy during this phase, so easy on the carbs! Focus on lighter grains like quinoa, amaranth, red lentils and corn. Plenty of sunflower seeds, sesame seeds sprinkled on salads (and tahini!), figs, coconut, apricot, persimmons, raspberries and strawberries! If you want a fresh veggie juice, now is the time! In the blender (or juicer) add spinach, dandelion greens, celery, cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger.
Luteal Phase Foods:
Foods rich in B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium and fiber – all to help curb sugar cravings. Complex carbohydrates help prevent mood swings! Focus on brown rice, roasted or baked vegetables like cauliflower, parsnip, and radishes with onion and garlic. Lots of baked sweet potatoes and roasted squash. Fiber-rich apples (with sunflower seed butter!), pears, peaches, dates and raisins. Add fresh mint and spirulina to smoothies, drink peppermint tea and at night, drink my fave magnesium tea!
Menstrual Phase Foods:
Focus on low-glycemic, water-rich fruits and veggies, since your body is doing lots of internal work like eliminating the lining of your uterus!! It’s important to remineralize and restore the blood and kidneys with sea veggies and foods rich in iron and zinc. Think kidney beans, kale, kelp, mushrooms and beets (cook with sea salt!). Use cooking methods that feel good to you during this time, like warming and comforting miso soups, stir frys with liquid aminos and water chestnuts, brown rice and seaweed sushi rolls, etc. Smoothies with dark berries, kale and flax too! This Watermelon Cayenne Juice?would be perfect too!
** It’s important to mention that this protocol is not a 1-month fix; this is a lifestyle for women; something we can choose to follow for as long as we feel necessary. After time, I think it becomes second nature and you’ll feel so in tune with your body that the protocol just feels right and makes the most sense.
Follow along on instagram and insta stories to see my day to day meals, recipes and what inspires me!
What do you guys think about the food chart and protocol? Are you planning to incorporate these phase-specific foods? Have you downloaded the My Flo tracker app yet?!
Can’t wait to hear your thoughts!!?
>>>> read part one: the pill and tracking your cycle
>>>> read?Part Three: Supplements & Herbs
>>>> read?Part Four: Cycle Syncing Our Workouts
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I heard that those of us who are post-menopausal should cycle with the phases of the moon. Is that your recommendation as well?
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
THIS IS SUCH A GIFT, subscribed!
I just posted a video on my YouTube channel about this, and I really loved reading your article.
You have great perspective! <3
This article is very helpful! If you have recently gotten off of birth control contraceptives and have not received your period, is there a way to cycle sync with food? Should I go off of my cycle when I was on birth control? Thank you!
Thanks a lot for this series about balancing hormones! I was looking for information about what to eat during the different phases of my cycle and this got me on your article. I’m even more happy because I realized you’re vegan as well 🙂 It’s so hard to find support regarding menstrual health when you are vegan…Even though I’ve seen countless times that red meat, dairy, etc will exacerbate PMS symptoms, many professionnals in the field will almost recommend a ketogenic/paleo diet to women who are having troubles with their reproductive system! Ugh 🙁
I think I’ll check out the book you mention too. But I was wondering if we can eat more things than what is shown in the graph you posted? Since it’s not a short-term diet, but a new way of eating on the long-term, I want to be able to keep my diet diversified. I know there are already many choices available, but I have IBS and am intolerant to many things in this graph (especially the legumes!), so I would need to add other stuff. Does Alisa explain in her book, why some food items are to be eaten during a certain phase and not another one? That might help me in making logical choices if I need to add things that are not in there.
Thanks a lot!!
So happy you came across my blog 🙂 yes you can definitely make it work for you and add in things you need if some foods don’t agree with you. As long as you follow it the best you can it should work for you! You want to stick with more raw, cleansing, anti-inflammatory and fibrous foods in the first half (follicular and ovulatory) because you have more energy and your digestion is more able to digest raw veggies and lots of cold salads. Plus with the increased energy, you don’t need as many carbs for energy as you do in the second half. I also find because of the increase in estrogen, my appetite is slightly suppressed and I want light, fresh foods anyway (and lots of homemade green juices) Then in the second half of your cycle (luteal and menstrual) you want to eat more warming, heartier, nutrient-dense foods because your body is doing lots of internal work and needs highly nourishing foods, and warm foods feel good to eat at that time! I’m currently writing a book on all of this that will be out next year, but in the mean time, you should check out my Hormone Healing ebook that has one month’s worth of recipes for each phase of your cycle along with how to optimize each phase 🙂 hope this helps! https://www.theglowingfridge.com/hormone-healing/
Thanks a lot for the fast answer! In the meantime I went to my local library and borrowed the book. I’ve been devouring it since yesterday ; it’s even more interesting than I thought and I’m happy to see that Alisa doesn’t shun the vegan lifestyle either (considering she gives vegan alternatives and even promotes animal protein and dairy reduction if there is presence of some symptoms). I’ve checked the list of foods once again and made a list of items I couldn’t find in there, that I eat regularly. I will follow your advice and try to make them fit in the best phase of my cycle and see how it goes.
Oh, while I’m at it, what do you think about her 4-day reset? I tried to input everything in my Chronometer app and it gave something like 600-700 calories only per day. I tried to boost it up a bit and still couldn’t get over 900 calories, which is pretty low for me (to maintain my weight, I need to eat about 1450 calories). Even if it’s only for 4 days, I’m quite on the fence about the idea. I didn’t see her warning women of doing this cleanse during a period when they won’t need to spend as much energy or need a lot of focus. So maybe I didn’t do the calculations properly?
Just wondering if you have an opinion on the matter.
Also, really glad to learn you’re writing a book on the subject! Can’t wait to hear about it 🙂 And thank you, I will check out the e-book!
Thanks again, hope you have a nice day!
Hi Shannon, I am so excited that you are posting and learning about balancing hormones. Finding your blog was part of the reason I decided to go vegan and stay vegan over a year ago. I have been off of birth control for a year now and have been trying to get pregnant ever since. However, there are a lot of things complicating my fertility right now. I was on birth control for 12 years (eek!), I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism this past year and am taking medicine and my levels are normal but I am still experiencing symptoms, my face is constantly broken out mainly around my jaw line, and I have had irregular periods ever since going off birth control and I didn’t have any issues before. Before going on birth control I didn’t have any pms symptoms, had regular periods, and no acne. 🙁 Earlier this year, I didn’t have my period for 3 months. Immediately upon reading your posts about Flo Living, I knew it was something I had to try and I bought the book. I am so thankful for you sharing your own personal struggle and sharing your own tips. I cannot thank you enough!
One thing that I would love is if you could post vegan friendly recipes that are linked to each cycle of flo living. I attempted to start syncing my food as I just started my cycle this past week, but I felt the foods listed in the menstrual cycle were limited and I was also out of town for 4 days which even further limited my food availability. I have been trying to do better with prepping and preparing my own food rather than spending tons of money eating out or buying prepared health food but the new guidelines for Flo living provide another challenge. Thank you again for all your help!!
Hi Shannon. Thx for this wonderful post.
Just to share my experience. By balance the Yin and Yang energy nature of the vegetables, beans, fruits, will better help in balancing the entire body functions.
Some of the foods are more of Yin nature or “Cool nature”, and are not advisable to be consumed during menstrual cycle, for it will make the uterus get cold and weaken down entire blood circulation, and let body accumulate much dampness over time, such as :
Water chestnut, Watermelon, Pineapple, Parsnip.
For ladies, Cold food or drinks directly from the fridge without at least 2 hours thaw time, have the same uterus weakening effect, and will encourage the grow of tumours or cancer.
Because female uterus fear “cold”.
Dampness accumulated in body will then weakening the various organ functionality in body.
Some of the very useful food remedy for female biological cycle, including Lotus root boiled with Chinese red dates, consumed once or twice a week;
To add suitable amount of ginger in foods that are of “cool” nature; etc
Just some 2 cents. : )
I read your first post and immediately ordered the book (which I find fascinating) and let me explain that I am 50 and praying to all gods for my period to simply end. Still, I thought this book could help me. I haven’t gained weight in ten years but recently have been gaining weight and it’s easy to fall into the ol’ your getting-older-fatter-it’s the norm mentality but I refuse! I keep trying. I thought I could gain some insight from this book. So far, I have. I know my body is changing and I want to be in tune to what needs have changed. This book should be in every woman’s hands at the age of 10! It would have saved me so much grief in my earlier years. I’m hoping it will help me in these later years, too, and I believe it will. I resonate with so much the author has written thus far and have downloaded the app to my phone and I am just beginning but I think I will see some changes for certain. Thank you so much for turning me onto this and let me just exclaim that in my early 20s my period became irregular and I followed my doctor’s advice and went on the pill. I haven’t been on the pill in years but I think I could have taken a different route all those years ago. I also love that the author is very vegan-friendly!
I was just curious about your thoughts on the whole food fats. I’v read your past posts where you were doing a lot less of the whole food fats, versus now where your really incorporating a lot more into your diet now for hormone balancing. Are you noticing any changes in how you feel? Is your body able to digest and assimilate them ok? Were you afraid about the adage “the fat you eat is the fat you wear!”? I’ve read the Essylstein’s books and McDougall books, and while they are really great, they are all about just cutting out ALL fats -whole and refined- from your diet in order to lose/maintain body weight. I had done that and was able to lose weight, but recently had really started to feel consumed by food- probably b/c I wasn’t able to get satiated with my meals b/c of the lack of a little fat. Well, these other books had me so convinced this was the way to go, so I was a little scared to gain the weight back when I decided to take your challenge and start incorporating little bits of whole food fats back into my diet- nuts/ nut butters and seeds and the like, without the oils though. If fats are so crucial to us ladies’ hormonal balancing, how can these people say we can do without any at all and actually thrive? Can you please tell me how things are going for you in this area? I feel like we come from similar backgrounds and it would be nice to hear how this is going for you now. Thanks! 🙂
Hey Jenell! Such a great question and so glad you asked. I totally know how you feel. While Alisa is constantly stressing the importance of good fats, I was nervous to add them back into my diet too because of the McDougall diet and Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn’s diet… but they are all men!! So I figured something wasn’t right and whatever I was doing wasn’t really working because my body wasn’t in total balance, ya know? I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try so I started adding a tablespoon of coconut butter to my smoothies (which is amazing) and eating more flax, avocado, nut butter and tahini, and the different nuts/seeds for each cycle phase. I will say that having fat at every meal keeps me more satiated and feeling fuller for longer, it’s been quite nice! While my diet a couple months ago did have tahini and avocado most days, I don’t think it was enough fat.
So, since I’ve been eating the recommended fats at the recommended times throughout each month, my period finally came this month at the time it should come, rather than being 2 weeks too long!!! I was ecstatic because that means everything I’ve been doing has worked and it’s only the 2nd month!!! I can’t say if it’s been more fats or the supplements I’ve been taking or the changes I’ve been making or the different foods for each phase, but it’s all working so I’ going to continue on with keeping the fats in my diet and doing everything else Alisa recommends.
I haven’t gained weight, if anything I’ve lost a couple pounds/inches that were hanging around my mid section. I truly believe that the processed oils are unhealthy and most Americans eat way too much of the bad fat and not enough of the good, whole food fat so the lower fat higher carb vegan diets might work for those people to lose weight but for women in general, I’m starting to think we need whole food fats for hormone balance.
Hope that helps!!
That is so incredibly helpful Shannon; I really appreciate your heartfelt and thorough response! Anything else I could have thought of you answered very well 🙂 You have helped encourage me so much and has helped to pump me up even more so in this healthy lifestyle. I love so many of your recipes- pretty much every one that I have tried that is, and I look forward to reading more of your articles- especially on this hormonal topic! Thanks again for taking the time to read my thoughts and for answering my questions. It makes me feel rather honored that I would be worth your time 🙂 It also just kind of makes the world seem not quite so big, and helps me realize I’m not alone on this journey. Blessings!! 🙂
Please write hormone balancing suggestions for menopause stage… it’s pretty rough going and some nutritional guidance would be most appreciated and advice for this stage using plant based nutrition is desperately needed as not enough support is out there at the moment. Thanks!
Loving this! just got the book today & got the app a few weeks ago and started following the food suggestions on the app, ate more of the right foods in the luteal phase (thats where i was when i download the app) and the menstrual phase and i already noticed a difference!!! 🙂 hardly any PMS symptons and i was actually functional for once on my period(instead of stuck in bed with a heating pad & no energy) excited to continue & learn more!!!
This is so cool! I just bought the book and am loving it so far 🙂 I also just bought Eaternity, a cookbook by Jason (something) that categorizes recipes based on how they make you feel! Eat for better sex, better mood, better sleep, less steess, healthier skin, etc! I think this stuff is super interesting 🙂