In the quest to reclaim our bodily sovereignty from the grip of a system of disempowerment and denial, to disavow the shame and coercion of patriarchal enculturation, women (and all nature of folks) are choosing to unlearn, reeducate, self-discover and reemerge as beings in proud alignment with the innate rhythms of their bodies. The term “cycle syncing,” popularized by Alissa Vitti has recently spread far and wide, and the practice has been adopted by many on the aforementioned quest. Cycle syncing is the process of aligning the various elements and behaviors of our day-to-day lives with the unique patterns of each phase of the menstrual cycle in the name of health and harmony.
One of the best ways to support ourselves as we journey through this monthly cycle is to nourish our bodies with foods that complement each of the four phases.
Conversely, making food choices that are out of sync with our internal state can lead to unnecessary imbalances and pain. In Chinese Medicine foods are classified not just by the typical nutritional values we’re accustomed to, but according to their energetic nature. The foods recommended here for each phase are chosen for their energetic qualities, micronutrient profiles, and capacity to influence hormones and other essential substances. Please use this information as a guide, but let your ultimate compass come from within. Listen to your body, begin to recognize the ways it communicates its needs, and practice responding with curiosity and grace.
Important Micro- and Macronutrients for a Healthy Cycle
Some of the most important nutrients needed to support a healthy cycle are: Iron and iodine, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Calcium and Zinc, B Vitamins, Vitamin D3/K2, Vitamin A, Chlorophyll, Protein, alpha- and gamma-linolenic acid, and Vitamin E. The various foods recommended in each phase can help to supply these nutrients, but supplementation is sometimes appropriate to ensure adequate intake.
Substances to Avoid for a Healthy Cycle
Throughout your cycle, do your best to avoid: alcohol, tobacco, caffeine/stimulants, refined sugar, anything highly processed (polyunsaturated cooking oils, packaged snacks, etc), commercially-raised meat, heavy, greasy, cold and/or raw foods. It is also wise to choose water sources without fluoride or chlorine. Eat nourishing, warm, mostly cooked foods during each phase.
Foods for the Four Phases
- Blood Phase: Your hormone levels drop dramatically during this Phase, so it’s important to incorporate adequate protein and healthy fats to aid in hormone production. While you are bleeding, focus on warming and mineral-rich foods such as regeneratively raised red meat, kidney beans, turmeric, seafood and seaweed to circulate and build blood to replenish what you’ve lost. Comforting soups and stews are great here (just like they are during Winter)!
- Yin Phase: Metabolism slows down during the Yin and Yang phases, so this is the time to slightly decrease your daily caloric load. Continue replenishing Blood, incorporate fermented and sprouted foods, grains like buckwheat and millet, and lean protein. Avoid pungent hot spices.
- Yang Phase: Cruciferous veggies and lots of fiber help to flush excess estrogen. As in Summer, fruit and raw foods are slightly more appropriate during this phase as your inner fire is more robust, but supplementing with warmth and spice in the form of cinnamon and ginger can help support the Yang energy. That said, if your Spleen is struggling, continue to avoid raw and chilled foods and cook foods to preserve the body’s Yang
- Qi Phase: Metabolism is faster in the Qi and Blood phases, so it’s important to increase daily caloric load and stabilize blood sugar with nutrient dense foods rich in B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium, such as complex carbs, root and cruciferous veggies. Help keep the Qi flowing with slightly spicy foods and spices, like: basil, cumin, cardamom, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, horseradish, leeks, onions, pepper, rosemary, scallions, spearmint, and vinegar. Green things are great to support the Liver: chlorella, spirulina, green veggies.
You can access a plethora of cycle syncing resources (such as phase-specific acupressure points, herbal medicine/supplements, mindset, and exercises) in our online course! Can’t wait to see you there!