7

votes

Question for the Ladies: do you alter your eating during your menstrual cycle?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 09, 2012 at 2:07 PM

For successful women paleo-ers, what, if anything, do you alter with your eating during your menstrual cycle? I've been able to avoid having one (aside from occassional spotting) for nearly 6 years (Depo Provera, Pregnant, Nursing, Pregnant, Nursing, Heavy Running, Mirena...) and I just this week got it again. My workouts suffered, my energy suffered, and tonight I gave in and ate a TON of sugar in an effort to get some semblance of function back in my body!

I usually eat semi-strict paleo (as well as I can in a deployed environment anyway), and peanuts/peanut butter are really my only non-paleo vice. I work out 1-2 times per day, usually with 1 crossfit workout and one cardio session. I took yesterday off from the gym because I felt run down. I didn't sleep well and skipped my morning workout, then attempted a long run today and my calves locked up and my body refused to cooperate. I ended up only running 3 and walked 2.5.

Does anyone else have similar issues on their period while eating paleo? Do you make adjustments to your eating habits during this time? What are your recommendations / what foods work for you to keep your body functioning and avoid sacrificing your workouts?

Update for those who were curious -- the symptoms have lessened, though I've still been intermitten with occassional periods (sometimes it's only a day, sometimes longer), but they are definitely not as bad as that first one! Thanks for all the advice. I think a combo of additional fruit and iron (once I get stateside I'll try incorporating liver if I can stomach it!) will do the trick.

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on April 08, 2012
at 07:16 PM

actually research shows there is nothing wrong with NOT having a period, and obviously it has not effected my fertility as I have had 2 children during this time!

35e992a56378508f161d0d6df18d953b

on January 10, 2012
at 03:01 AM

loving the German sausages you've suggested! :)

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on January 09, 2012
at 08:00 PM

It has been said that drinking a small amount of citrus juice with your spinach can help to increase iron absorption.

19acef0aed67ef8dc1118d8e74edb349

(2954)

on January 09, 2012
at 06:37 PM

I used to crave very salty foods the first couple of days of menses, which only made the bloating worse. Nowadays all I crave is some good chocolate on the first day, as long as I've got that, I'm good. You sound like your body is exhausted from all the exercise to be honest!

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:07 PM

Oh right, I forgot about your limited options. I don't know if it's just iron, or fat, or why exactly I tend to crave liver and taking even a bite takes the edge off the bottomless pit of hungry that can come with severe PMS. But if I had to guess, I'd say replace it with as much red meat as you can find, iron-rich veggies, and maybe a few cans of sardines if you can find some. Let us know how it goes!

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:46 PM

that sounds terrible!! This is the first period i've had that's lasted more than 24 hours in nearly 6 years, but it hasn't been painful, just draining physically (thank goodness). Thanks for the advice, i will file that for future reference just in case!

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:44 PM

thanks. I have some freeze dried spinach i've been trying to add to food when i can. I'll try ordering some more so I've got it when (if) this happens again.

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:42 PM

I don't think it is overtraining, as it seems to have directly correlated to the reappearance of my cycle. I actually took a day and a half off, and it seems to have made it WORSE as opposed to better. I normally do some kind of active recovery, but instead did nothing.

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Thanks. That's what I was thinking... maybe because its the first one in so long. Unfortunately eating liver isn't really an option for me. I'm limited to the dried foods I can order to an FPO and the food provided in the dining facility. I was thinking trying to boost my iron intake? Obviously my "well i'll just eat everything in sight" method was counterproductive!

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10 Answers

5
Ce7e28769d92d5de5533e775b1de966e

on January 09, 2012
at 02:45 PM

I definitely eat a wide-variety of protein, tubers, fruit, veg, but will go a little heavier on the red meat a few days before and during my cycle. My preferred eating path is to let my body decide when it's hungry - eat when hungry stop when full. Non-lady days I pretty much just have two meals a day. Lady-days I tend to eat more and usually bacon is involved. It's not the sweet I want.. it's the savory. Chomping and tearing!

Do you eat sweet potatoes at all? They do wonders for the bod when roasted, very satisfying. I would never say no to tasty delicious dark chocolate but it's worth a shot. Guacamole with crispy veg to scoop it up with, or the bacon :) is a nice thing to add in as well. Also staying super hydrated, its easy when you're not feeling awesome to let some usual habits slide. If I'm not feeling well, like something is just truly off, I don't workout as there is the possibility of injury. Injury means I'm out for more time - non! I've done that enough so no more.

Note: I lift heavy things and move fast 4 days a week and do an active recovery stretch feel good session 1 day.

5
E48146ad243fab742e69d10b633e05d6

on January 09, 2012
at 02:33 PM

I have the same problem and can relate. But ive come to the conclusion that i doubt it has to do with the food. Seems your over training, especially if you feel run down ,i know i was. I take 2 days off per week. I feel muuuch better and my performance has improved. Cortisol and adrenals have alot to do with menstrual cycles, we must try to relax more and listen to our bodies. Im still working on it. Good luck my dear, stay strong :-)

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:42 PM

I don't think it is overtraining, as it seems to have directly correlated to the reappearance of my cycle. I actually took a day and a half off, and it seems to have made it WORSE as opposed to better. I normally do some kind of active recovery, but instead did nothing.

2
A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:01 PM

I suggest eating liver, braunschweiger, or liverwurst and loads of spinach for IRON on your "lady-days".

Also, rest as necessary.

Finally, I agree with Krisha C., your body is likely overproducing for a little while before it settles back into a rhythm. :)

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:44 PM

thanks. I have some freeze dried spinach i've been trying to add to food when i can. I'll try ordering some more so I've got it when (if) this happens again.

A89f9751a97c3082802dc0bcbe4e9208

(13978)

on January 09, 2012
at 08:00 PM

It has been said that drinking a small amount of citrus juice with your spinach can help to increase iron absorption.

35e992a56378508f161d0d6df18d953b

on January 10, 2012
at 03:01 AM

loving the German sausages you've suggested! :)

2
724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

on January 09, 2012
at 02:54 PM

I've had similar bouts of not having a period for years at a time due to similar bc methods. Every few years it'll come back and either I suck it up for a few months, or I go off it for a while.

In any case, the first two or three cycles can be killer and hormonally very intense, just because I think you're body's not used to it and is probably overproducing hormones. But then it usually settles back to about 75% the intensity of whatever you're cycle is like when you're not taking birth control. Or at least, that's my experience.

I also find that eating even just a little bit of liver during those days helps with random hormonal cravings.

724ba4f39f7bbea7f74b45c0a79615f2

(1968)

on January 09, 2012
at 04:07 PM

Oh right, I forgot about your limited options. I don't know if it's just iron, or fat, or why exactly I tend to crave liver and taking even a bite takes the edge off the bottomless pit of hungry that can come with severe PMS. But if I had to guess, I'd say replace it with as much red meat as you can find, iron-rich veggies, and maybe a few cans of sardines if you can find some. Let us know how it goes!

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:40 PM

Thanks. That's what I was thinking... maybe because its the first one in so long. Unfortunately eating liver isn't really an option for me. I'm limited to the dried foods I can order to an FPO and the food provided in the dining facility. I was thinking trying to boost my iron intake? Obviously my "well i'll just eat everything in sight" method was counterproductive!

2
1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on January 09, 2012
at 02:34 PM

Menstruation is rough on the body. In the days preceding your period, carb up if you feel the need (although try not to overdo it with the sugars!) and when you're cramping and feeling icky, just take it easy. In my case, my body temp lowers and I get cold easily. So cuddling up in my robe, with a book or ipad in my lap and heat pack on my tummy or back is the way I prefer to spend that first day.

I also take extra magnesium to alleviate the bloating and cramping.

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on January 09, 2012
at 03:46 PM

that sounds terrible!! This is the first period i've had that's lasted more than 24 hours in nearly 6 years, but it hasn't been painful, just draining physically (thank goodness). Thanks for the advice, i will file that for future reference just in case!

1
518bce04b12cd77741237e1f61075194

(11577)

on April 08, 2012
at 08:44 PM

I can time my ovulation based on "I don't really feel like eating days", and my PMS is easily identified by the number of cans of smoked oysters I destroy in one sitting. Also, getting teary eyes if there are no smoked oysters in the house.

1
C00e493393828df34be65ddc25456c7c

(610)

on January 22, 2012
at 03:36 AM

You've been able to avoid having one for 6 years. that's your problem. periods are normal and you should have one monthly except when pregnant or in menopause.

695d450f25e1e5f4eba82c615206cc5a

(189)

on April 08, 2012
at 07:16 PM

actually research shows there is nothing wrong with NOT having a period, and obviously it has not effected my fertility as I have had 2 children during this time!

0
35e992a56378508f161d0d6df18d953b

on January 10, 2012
at 03:02 AM

Well I can happily answer this question because I JUST got my period back today after about 5 months of not having it * relieved*

During my menstral cycle I to gravitate towards more fruit and high fat things such as coconut milk/cream and eggs Also dark chocolate :P

I have issues with cramps so for me I take the next day or two as " rest days" and just do some errands or go for a nice long medium/fast paced walk

0
5294cf643205004fc805ccf41dd4e58a

on January 10, 2012
at 01:21 AM

Well, this is just me and what sense I make of it: depending on how heavy your cycles are, think about how losing blood might affect your energy levels. That may be overly simplistic but to me it's not a big mystery that I might feel a tad more tired during my cycle. Given my own personal situation with health, I usually take the first 2 days of my cycle off from exercise (I have endometriosis - haven't quite solved all the symptoms yet).

I wouldn't discount eating nutrient-rich foods leading up to and during your cycle (or even just regularly).

0
B4e1fa6a8cf43d2b69d97a99dfca262c

(10255)

on January 09, 2012
at 02:27 PM

when eating very healthy SAD i had extremely heavy bleeding and bloating. my Dr's response was "that must be aweful; lucky its only 2 days a month". eating LC has helped. my hormones seem to fluxuate a lot less and the only days i skip workouts is when i am experiencing gushing, which happens less frequently.

the only thing i change in my diet is adding an extra serving of liver, more water and an iron suppliment.

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