"I want something good to die for, to make it beautiful to live.
-Queens of the stone age: Go with the flow.
If women wrote their stories more often, they would have pages full of amazing things they ideated and did just before they began menstruating. Some dramatic, others extremely inspiring, and few simply bold and courageous. Women experience the shift of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, with every passing day of their fertile cycle. It is like different weather every day.
The weather just before the period is a cusp of Fire and Wind energy. (Pitta and Vata). Many women would agree, the wild firestorm they feel in their hearts is resolute and untameable. Medically known as Premenstrual Syndrome.
The follicular phase (immediately after a period till ovulation) is Kapha: A period of growth, nurture, and calmness. During this period, the uterus is being prepared for the arrival of the ovum. This is also the most important phase for the ovaries. It is readying the Ovum for ovulation.
The luteinizing phase (from ovulation to menstruation) is Pitta: This is the phase immediately after ovulation. The hormones are surging and raging in your system. You are buzzing with energy, vitality, and determination. You may also put on a little weight during this period.
The uterus is being prepared for the arrival of the sperm and pregnancy. In the ovaries, the empty follicle after the release of the ovum, works as a luteinized body that secretes the necessary hormones.
When the Ovum is not fertilized, the cycle is auto-programmed for a reset. The menstrual period heralds this.
The menstrual period is Vata dominant - Low on Energy, but creative and aligned with the higher self. The ovaries and uterus are rebooting. Any residual hormones are recycled. The uterus is being refurbished, a new ovum is being prepared and the female spirit is ready to reprise. Bright radiant skin, healthy shiny hair, and soft, curvy, voluptuous, and inviting feminine energy are being readied for release.
Here are a few things that should happen during your menstrual reset :
You should lose a little weight : A slightly calorie-deficient diet helps the body recycle the hormones.
You should have low glycemic foods - foods that raise blood sugar very quickly can derange insulin function. This can cause an increase in male hormones in the ovary. E.g. excess use of refined carbs (Maida), Sweets, Baked goods, etc. Food should be whole, natural, and fresh.
The flow of the menstruum should be downward to avoid retrograde menstruations - Avoid improper postures including yoga and rigorous workouts. This can cause backflow of Menstrual blood into your body. retrograde menstruations
You should have Vata pacifying diet: Warm, soupy, and light.
Stress levels should be minimal: stress induces the release of cortical hormones which can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance. Relax, unwind, and destress on your menses.
A diet that agrees with your thyroid: The thyroid gland should be working optimally. If you suffer from Hypothyroidism resort to a low-fat diet and low in calories. Avoid cabbage, butter, meat, fried, sugary, starchy, and gluten-rich foods.
Food that replenishes the lost rasa and rakta : Drink plenty of unsugared fluids and iron-rich foods.
Low-fat diet: Less fat in the diet gives the body to properly recycle the hormones. A high-fat diet is linked to anovulatory cycles.
Low estrogen diet: Avoid tofu, dairy products that may be laced with hormones, chocolate, and chickpeas.
Why is that necessary?
Each follicle takes a whopping 270 days (about 9 months !) to develop into a mature Graafian follicle.
But is Ovulating important only if you want to get pregnant? No. Even if you are not planning to get pregnant, taking care of your cycles ensures you have good hair growth, radiant skin, better metabolism, and mood.
You will have better body weight and continue to have female curves. Anovulatory cycles can give you an androgenic (Man like) - Fat deposition. Chronic anovulatory cycles can lead to Poly cystic ovaries. Healthy ovulatory cycles also mean a lesser incidence of endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and fibroids. Thus it is imperative to watch your diet especially, during the menstruation.
Mindful eating is important to maintain healthy fertility cycles. Here is a food guide to help you choose a healthy meal plan on your period.
Small grain rice
Coarse wheat (Dailya/ Lapsi)
Long grain white rice
Refined Wheat Flour (Maida)
Sticky rice (Jasmine)
All kinds of Gourds (Bottle,Ash, ridge, Bitter, Ivy, Pumpkin etc. )
Leafy vegetables (Methi, Spinach etc. )
Raw jack fruit
Nightshades (Brinjal, Tomato, Capsicum)
Udad, Arhar, Chhola, Rajma, Chana.
Milk (Organic and free of hormones)
Spices & Condiments
Ajwain (Carom seeds), Jeera (Cumin seeds), Mint, Dry Ginger. Black pepper, Cinnamon (Dalchini), Fenugreek, Bay leaf (Tej patta),
Pickles, Wet ginger, Excessive use of Garlic, Green chilies, Tamarind, Vinegar, Soy sauce. Avoid Fennel (saunf), and Cilantro - Coriander leaves, if you have scanty menses.
Fruits, Dried fruits and Nuts
Pomegranates, Apple, Very ripe Banana, Papaya, raisins, flax seeds, a few almonds and walnuts.
Grapes, Unripe banana, Jamun, Plums, Citrus fruits, Watermelon, Musk melon, Fruits that are too sour, hot and cool in temperature or potency.
Tea - Chai
Ideal food guide:
Starting the day
Hot Ajwan (Carom) tea. Boil 1 tsp of powdered ajwain in 2 cups of hot water and reduce to half. Add a little jaggery of desired.
Vegetable Daliya / Oats, with a spoonful of ghee
Or, sweet milk and oats, with a spoonful of ghee
Pomegranate / Papaya
Rice / Roti, Curry with less spices, moong dal, Baked vegetables, sauteed paneer and Mint tea.
Saffron tea. Bring water/milk to a rolling boil and switch off the heat source. Add a few strands of saffron. Let it steep. Drink when still hot.
Hot khichdi with ghee and moong besan kadhi.
Vegetable Dal dhokli with a spoonful of ghee.
1 tsp Triphala powder with hot water.
How to best handle cravings :
Cravings are a big part of periods and premenstrual periods. The rapidly falling hormone levels are speculated to be the reason behind cravings. Hormones-Pitta is slowly falling. This causes dullness in the body. Naturally, all of us crave foods that help keep up the hi
gh energy of Pitta.
High salt, sweet, spicy, and high-calorie food thus become desirable.
It is important to handle these cravings in the best possible way. Self-talk and food journalling can help you reason with yourself.
Here are some alternatives :
1) Spice craving - Unleash the black pepper on your food. Black pepper will satiate the spice craving and also help balance hormones.
2) Sweet craving: Keep fleshy, juicy dates at hand. Hot Chocolate milk, with date sugar can also help. Super ripe bananas are excellent to curb sweet cravings.
3) Sour craving: Lemon bhel, Hot rasam, Lemon mint chutney, etc. can be an alternative when you desire Chinese or saucy food.
4) Salty food craving: Roasted and salted Makhana, Cashews, Almonds, Peanut butter, Non - fried Poha chivda, can help curb the salt craving.
5) Fatty food craving: Flax seed oil, Raw sesame oil, Ghee and other kinds of healthy oils can be used to stir fry veggies, roast the dosa, sautee the paneer to curb fried food craving.
If you feel your periods are not comfortable, or normal. It is imperative you reach out to expert care. Healthy menstruations are extremely important for women during their fertile periods.