The Luteal Phase
We come to part 3 of our 4 part series on dietary requirements for the different phases of the menstrual cycle – follicular, ovulation, luteal, and menstrual. By eating the right foods at the right times, we can powerfully restore and balance hormonal health while restoring our body to its natural rhythm. A very simple and yet ground breaking approach to hormonal health, it was developed by Alisa Vitta in her book, WomanCode: Perfect your Cycle, Amplify your Fertility, Supercharge your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source.
Food is the most potent drug available to maintain our optimum health. It is surprisingly effective to support the 5 different hormones that maintain a healthy menstrual cycle – estrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), luteinizing stimulating hormone (LH), and testosterone. It is through the protocol advocated in the WomanCode that specific foods are propagated at different phases of the menstrual cycle to support each of these hormones and their optimum levels.
During the luteal phase of menstruation, the uterine wall thickens and hence progesterone levels rise. As these levels increase, they give way to symptoms of PMS like bloating, irritability, mood swings, and brain fog. It also boosts appetite and craving for comfort foods that are high in calories and fat. The increased progesterone can also slow down digestion, causing constipation and triggering bloating and water retention.
The ideal foods during this phase would help curb both cravings and bloating. These would be starchy root vegetables since these are rich in B-vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. Root vegetables also help manage mood swings, reduce cravings and fluid retention, and ensure the increased hormones are detoxed effectively. They also help stave off constipation and hence reduce feelings of bloating. Some good root vegetables are sweet potatoes, parsnip, pumpkin, and squash.
These dense starchy root vegetables are also grounding for a time when mood swings can easily make us irritable and the changes in our body can leave us feeling less than our best. These are the ideal comfort foods that not only give comfort but also support the most important aspects of female health – our hormones.