Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Lady Lowdown

Is it super appropriate that it's the Chinese Moon Festival and I'm talking about Moon Cycles? So first off, happy Zhong Qiu Jie to any or all who are celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival!

Anyhoo, I have a plan: thirty-some years from now I plan on bragging just as much about how easy going through menopause is, as I am bragging right now about how I breeze my way through my monthly cycle. While you may so not want to be hearing about this, I feel that I do have bragging rights. Like the people with the amazing before and after weight loss photos, I'd like to have pictures of how I used to feel around this time of the month. The before picture would be me all but dying on a couch, and the after shots would be me breezing through a Power Yoga class (which I did), or riding a horse (which I have in the past), or climbing Mount Everest (which I plan on doing)...

Needless to say, I feel great! Like I've mentioned before, a number of factors have contributed to my female health but I cannot stress enough how eating fresh whole foods (preferably raw) have had the biggest impact. Why is that? Probably because all the nutrients a girl particularly needs during this time are more bioavailable in raw whole foods than anywhere else. Plus, I've cut out all the crap that would lead to some serious PMSing or menstrual cramping (like refined sugar, refined grains, chocolate, fried foods, caffeine, and more).

But what in particular does a girl need when Mother Nature (or Aunt Flo as I am told) comes a'callin'?

Iron: Mainly due to blood loss, a deficiency can lead to dizziness and fatigue, and can be expressed by cold hands and feet.

Magnesium: Also at a low at this time, a magnesium deficiency can lead to irratability (PMS anyone?), fatigue, depression, and water retention.

Vitamins B6 & B12: These are particularly necessary because their synthesis releases dopamine and serotonin that help prevent depression and balance our hormones. B6 deficiency is expressed by muscle weakness, irritability, insomnia, nervousness, or dry hair and skin. A B12 deficiency is made known by a loss of appetite, fatigue or numbness, and mental confusion.

Calcium: Everybody needs more calcium, and you're not going to find it in dairy, but you can find it in leafy greens, soybeans, and nuts. If you're not getting enough, odds are you are the type who gets wicked PMS, mood swings, irritability, pain, cramps, and all!

It's also been proven that women should focus on lower glycemic foods during their menses, which means eating anything from cooked whole grains and tubers (quinoa, brown rice, sweet potatoes) to my favoured options like any raw veggie and many fruits like apples, citrus fruits, melons, etc. As much as most women are tempted to power eat the exact opposite of what they need during this time of their cycle, try to stay away from high sugar and caffeine foods like ice cream (the dairy doesn't help), cookies, sweet commercial chocolate, and the like.

On the non-dietary side, you can also greatly alleviate your PMS symptoms by maintaining a healthy spine (I suggest chiropractic or yoga), exercising, having strong abs, and staying hydrated!

So, after all that, what are my three period superfoods when the time comes up?

Bananas: High in magnesium, B6, and potassium (which also helps with water retention/bloating). Because of their fiber amongst their other virtues, bananas help deal with menstrual cramps. Also being a low glycemic fruit, it's great for this time. And hey, if you ever needed an excuse to power eat banana whips, this is it!

Spirulina (and other seaweeds to a lesser extent): I think I've extolled the virtues of spirulina enough at this point. Needless to say, it's the ultimate superfood, containing every nutrient I mentioned above and beyond, while also being high in protein! In your desserts, in your chocolate, in your main course, in your soups... is there a wrong way to eat this stuff???

Spinach: This is nothing new, spinach has it all and is more affordable and readily available than spirulina if that's ever an issue. Spinach can be eaten raw, lightly steamed, or blended along with your favourite fruit as a green smoothie. So packed with iron, you'll be undefeatable!

So what are my three favourite things to have nowadays? Banana-spirulina whips, miso-spirulina soup, and green smoothies (with spinach!). It really helps that these are three of my favourite foods! It's like I can even start to look forward to this! Now, every day can be like Christmas! But wait, on a raw diet, it already is!

On that note, I'm off to fulfill my monthly girly time by watching my favourite love sob story, Cold Mountain, I'm sure doing that helps too somewhere!


  1. I personally have pretty okay "visits from aunt flo" but I know a lot of girls who get cramps so bad they'd probably need prescription medication to ease the pain!

    This is a pretty good post, very informative. I'll pass it on to the girls who need it most :)

  2. Thanks! Maybe I should have mentioned that I was also one of those girls who needed medication (well, now I know better than to think I "needed" the medication, but I'm sure you see what I mean!). Though I hated taking medicine otherwise, it was the one time of the month I'd just allow myself to pop pills like crazy because I was desperate... and now, it's a different world! I'm so convinced there is nothing you can't cure through real food!

  3. That is so amazing the power of nutrition! My sister is having the worst reproductive problems, dysplasia, horrible periods, etc. She eats terrible, and I am begging her to do more raw foods or even a macrobiotic type diet if she can't do a lot of raw.

    Thanks for sharing, def not TMI for me, I love hearing these personal experiences with food and health!