Make your Hormones Happier and your Periods Easier with Plants
by Laura Barns
If your period is a serious pain, you’ve probably lost count of things you’ve tried to make ‘that time of the month’ a little more bearable. From investing in 50 hot water bottles to having a whole cupboard devoted to chocolate in my kitchen, I’ve definitely tried a fair few things.
After some amazing advice from my GP, I started to look at ways to balance my hormones, and foods that can help with this, and wanted to share what’s worked. Because, when it comes to hormones, not all foods are created equal. In fact, some are even the culprits behind cramps, bloating, and irritability. Fun, right?
In case you’re wondering, does a vegan diet help with my period? Here are some of my tried-and-tested foodie tips for getting through.
Start your day right
I don’t need to tell you that breakfast is important. Your mum will have covered that a long time ago.
To jumpstart the day the right way, with stable blood sugars and sustainable energy, go for something rich in protein and fat, but limited in carbs. Starting your day with spiked blood sugar leaves you inclined to blood-sugar crashes, fatigue, and carb cravings.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you to put down the chocolate and eat nothing but carrot sticks when you’re feeling really lousy. But I am going to share a few simple swaps I implement when I’m having a particularly tough month.
- Say goodbye to artificial sweeteners: don’t assume ‘diet’ means ‘better’. In fact, the artificial sweeteners used in the likes of your go-to diet coke ‘trick’ your body into thinking it’s had the sugar hit it craved, without having done so. The result? You end up craving it more and feeling even worse. Instead, if the cravings hit hard, go for a small glass of full fat. Honestly.
- Make some simple recipe substitutions: I swear by Val’s sweet treat recipes. Though when I’m having a rubbish period, I make a few swaps to her ingredients list (don’t tell her). For example, in her incredible Banana Bread, I’ll swap the sugar and chocolate chips for natural applesauce or extra bananas. Not quite as satisfying, but fruit offers less blood sugar disruption, which is great for when your hormones are all over the place. And then her version tastes extra great when I’m back to myself.
- Switch your snacks: if you want even happier hormones, when elevenses strike, reach for the fruit bowl instead of the crisp cupboard, to help with the point above. Some great options:
Foods high in vitamin C, oranges, lemons etc. – vitamin C aids with the absorption of iron which is lost during periods and works to prevent dizziness and lethargy
Foods high in fibre, broccoli, beans, oats etc. – keep the gut healthy and reduce extra inflammation or bloating
Foods high in magnesium, bananas, walnuts etc. – sources of magnesium can reduce muscle cramping and balance mood changes
Recharge the right way
If you find your period pains keep you up at night, it can be impossible to avoid the coffee pot the next day. As a self-confessed caffeine fiend, the idea of cutting down on my soy lattes isn’t fun. Though once I learned that coffee flushes out helpful nutrients and minerals such as magnesium and B vitamins which are vital for hormone function, I started to look for a few alternatives. I’m now obsessed with chai tea (The Tea Makers are great) and aim to stick to just one regular coffee first thing in the morning.
By Laura Barns
Laura is our Copywriter, who is obsessed with the Hearty Roots Stew (and has been known to eat a double serve for lunch on more than one occasion). On her day off you’ll find her walking her puppy Ralph, stopping off at bookshops and cocktail bars along the way.