Summer is vivacious, she is bold, she is on fire. Autumn is wilting, she is transitioning, she craves. 

Sound familiar? 

Just as the seasons do, our hormones change throughout our cycle, influencing our mood, energy, skin, sleep, and metabolism. Tuning in to our menstrual cycle and adapting our food, exercise, and social commitments to match the ‘season’ of our cycle equals hormonal harmony. Wouldn’t you want an umbrella if you went outside during a storm?

Winter: Day 1-5 ‘The Period’

Winter is brisk, she is bitter, and she can be dark. Let her be, with a warm blanket and a good read.

What’s happening? 
Bleed days and drops in hormones can make you tired; they drain your energy and you may feel less sociable. Just like winter makes you want to stay inside and watch Netflix, the bleed days encourage rest and adequate sleep.

What about food? 
Reach for warming, easy to digest, nourishing foods to support blood flow, blood loss, and low energy, and to reduce inflammation and pain. 

Examples of great foods to keep up during this time include:

  • red meat, lentils, and legumes
  • cooked leafy greens
  • orange and red vegetables
  • slow-cooked soups, stews, and curries
  • berries
  • flaxseed
  • ginger, garlic, fennel, turmeric, and cinnamon 

Just as you don’t reach for an ice block in a blizzard, try and steer clear of frozen, cold foods and raw salads in this phase, they will hinder blood flow.

Lifestyle & movement
Keep the blood moving with some gentle yoga, a walk, or other low intensity exercise. 

This is a great time to reflect. Spend some time journaling, musing, and setting intentions for the next month. Forget about expectations and idealistic routines, and try to simply listen to what your body is telling you. 

Top Tip! Sip on a warm broth, spicy chai, or turmeric and ginger tea.

Spring: Day 6-13 ‘The Follicular Phase’

Spring is bright, she is natural, she embraces clear skies and fresh air. Breathe!

 What’s happening? 
The follicular phase is all about new beginnings, just as Spring is the time for new growth. You’ll find your energy returning with increased confidence and libido, productivity, and your skin will have that inner shine and bounce. 

What about food? 
Support your high energy and next cycle with a balanced, nutritious diet. Your liver is working hard here so it will need some extra love. 

Examples of great foods to keep up during this time include:

  • High fibre options – legumes, lentils, flaxseeds, avocado, sweet potato, wholegrains
  • Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts
  • Colourful vegetables
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Good quality protein – eggs, lean meat, salmon, sardines, lentils, legumes, quinoa
  • Berries

Lifestyle & movement
Embrace the ‘spring’ in your step! Push yourself that little bit harder to utilise the energy and confidence boost from estrogen and testosterone. This is the time for cardio and strength training, you will build muscle mass more easily this week.

Top tip! Aim high – this is the time to kick some goals.

Summer: Mid-cycle ‘Ovulation’ 

Like a road trip to the beach, summer feels good; she’s warm, radiant, and vibrant. She cools herself with watermelon and cucumber and hydrates with coconut.

What’s happening? 
This is the time where the ovary releases the egg. Like waiting for summer days after a long, cold winter, this is the big dance; the ‘peak’ of the whole cycle. 

Think mild summer nights, let your hair down – this is when things heat up. 

Ovulation is the ‘sexy’ stage of the menstrual cycle with energy, libido, confidence, and mood peaking with a hormonal shift from estrogen to progesterone. Like a stormy summer night, after ovulation you may notice mood changes and feel sluggish. 

What about food? 
During this stage, it’s important to eat regular, balanced, nutritious meals to support your high energy and stabilise moods. Your bowels and liver need you here! 

  • Focus on fibre and staying hydrated to keep the bowels regular.
  • Moderate grains, which may aggravate bloating and sluggishness.
  • Imagine ‘mocktails’ of freshly squeezed vegetable juices, fruit, herbal tea, with some spice on the side.

Lifestyle & movement
Enjoy the ‘peak’ – laugh, move, and be happy! This is the best time for high intensity workouts, movement (and dancing), date-nights, and catch-ups.

Stay away from the scales, this is not the time to weigh yourself as hormone fluctuations after ovulation may cause fluid retention, bloating, and constipation. 

Top tip! Step into your favourite outfit and hit the town! 

Autumn: Days 15-28 ‘Luteal’ 

Like a tree dropping its leaves, autumn begins with vibrance and light, then, slowly she begins to shed.

What’s happening? 
Both progesterone and oestrogen see their highs and lows…prepare yourself!

Progesterone and oestrogen rise to the challenge side by side as they prepare for the implantation of a fertilised egg, and possible pregnancy. With no pregnancy, both hormones drop and the shedding of the uterus begins. Progesterone is the Yin to Oestrogen’s Yang, and when out of balance, hello PMS; aka mood changes (sadness, anxiety, irritability), sore breasts, bloating, cravings, fatigue, brain fog, less resistance to stress. Plummeting oestrogen levels mean low serotonin (mood stabiliser that controls wellbeing and happiness), causing insomnia and carbohydrate and sugar cravings. 

What about food? 
Foods high in zinc, magnesium, B6 are your warriors for fighting PMS. 

Examples of great foods to keep up during this time include: 

  • Seafood (oysters!)
  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Colourful and cruciferous vegetables
  • Sunflower and pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Enjoy cacao (yes! that includes good quality dark chocolate)
  • Broth

Generally try to limit alcohol, caffeine, processed sugar and saturated fats, and keep up fibre and focus on slow-release carbs. 

Lifestyle & movement
I won’t sugar coat it; this transitional season is hard. Keep stress at bay with meditation or yoga. 

You’ll have enough energy for high intensity, cardio, or strength exercises in the first half of the phase before easing into gentler workouts towards the end of the cycle. 

Top tip! Look after yourself. Having a massage or facial here is a very, very good idea. 

This piece is from our latest GHE Magazine; click here to view the magazine in full.