As a follow up from my previous post about how to eat plant-based for the menstrual phase https://hazelandcacao.com/how-to-eat-plant-based-for-your-cycle-menstrual-phase/ I thought it would be nice to share some of the meals I gravitate towards during my menstrual phase. I have suffered from mildly low iron ever since having my baby and extended breastfeeding. My iron became noticeably better as soon as I stopped breastfeeding but since I can not take oral supplements, I have to try very hard to get enough iron especially during the menstrual phase. My go-to at the moment for added iron during menstruation is my homemade iron supplement gummies: https://hazelandcacao.com/vegan-diy-iron-supplement-gummies/ as well as incorporating a spinach spirulina coconut water smoothie with breakfast and drinking iron-rich herbal teas at night. My favourite combination is nettle, alfalfa, and licorice.
During this phase, it is important to replenish lost nutrients, particularly iron. About 1mg of iron is lost with each day of bleeding and if bleeding is heavy, more iron can be lost. Iron needs vitamin C and copper for better absorption. It is also important to rehydrate and re-mineralize our bodies to compensate for the lost fluid. Adding sea salt or Himalayan salt to water in the mornings is an easy way to do this. During the menstrual phase, our hormones are flatlined. They are at the lowest point they will be in the month. During this time we rely on our neurotransmitters to boost our mood, instead of our hormones. Foods high in tryptophan, tyrosine, zinc, magnesium, and b vitamins (especially vitamin b6) and plant-based omega 3 are especially beneficial for mood and to help ease period pain.
These are some of the meals I gravitate towards during my bleeding phase. As a general rule, I do not snack, so I will only be including recipes for breakfast lunch and dinner. I will also include a menstrual phase appropriate dessert even though I don’t always have a dessert on hand. I usually just eat 2-4 squares of dark chocolate if I don’t have any dessert in my freezer.
For breakfast one of my go-to meals is a chocolate buckwheat porridge, I like to add extra ground flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds to the porridge for added nutrients and extra omega 3. Buckwheat is high in magnesium so I love to pair it with banana for added vitamin b6. Together these nutrients help stabilize mood and build healthy neurotransmitters. I’m also currently making a spirulina spinach coconut water smoothie along with breakfast to help up the iron intake and eat 1 brazil nut for all the selenium needed in a day.
Lunch is the most difficult meal of the day for me. I am always in a rush and seem to find it hard to think of what to eat. One of my favourite lunch meals fort both my luteal and menrual phase is a chickpea omelet which is loaded with lots of vitamin b6. I love added mushrooms which are rich in iron and eat it with some good quality rye sourdough bread and half an avocado. I usually end up eating some sourdough with vegan butter and homemade jam for dessert as well because I love bread! and bread is so comforting during the menstrual phase.
Dinner during my menstrual phase is varied. I tend to listen to what my body asks for and settle for comforting meals. I love mushrooms during this phase so I will often make a mushroom pasta or risotto with big kale or rocket and pear and walnut side salad for extra greens and omega 3. I also like to sprinkle on some kelp flakes on my pasta and salad for iodine and extra minerals. I generally use hemp and cashew-based vegan parmesan cheese to sprinkle on my pasta. Hemp is a wonderful addition for mood and period pain.
Since I blog many desserts I will tend to eat whatever I have been blogging during that week if I feel like it or if I have any on hand. If not my go-to is a few squares of 85% dark chocolate. For the sake of this blog post, I wanted to add a chocolate cherry dessert. Cherries are a great food to eat during the period, they are full of antioxidants and help blood flow during the period. They also contain compounds that aid with better sleep and pain reduction which is important for period pain. As always chocolate is a good idea, I can’t imagine having a dessert that didn’t involve chocolate on my period.