I know, I know, how many times can a girl post about this? Apparently, a lot. Thing is, I keep reading so much unhealthy misinformation about women's menstrual cycles that I always feel compelled to tell women and girls more about it! When I go online and see girls ask questions like "can I eat ice cream during my period?" or "is it okay to eat chocolate?" I often just see replies as some variation of "Girrrrl, eat whatever you want! It's that time, you totally have free range!" or "I call that week my free week, so I don't feel so bad about eating junk." It concerns me that girls are more concerned with justifying bad diet during a critical time of the month over choosing to adopt a healthier lifestyle year round. If we were all more careful in the first place, maybe we wouldn't feel so bad (both emotionally and physically) when that week actually comes along!
I may be about to go all "female empowerment" on you here, but as women, we so often make ourselves out to be victims of our own bodies. As if our bodies were "doing" something to us once a month despite our will. We don't take charge, and even take pride, in the fact that this cycle is a beautiful and sacred part of our femininity. It's not gross, it's not shameful, and I've learned that it certainly doesn't have to be painful, uncomfortable, or a burden! Now, I'm not telling you to go out and celebrate once a month, but take joy and appreciation in the fact that you know you're body is functioning properly, that it's doing what it should be doing, and that it's all part of our life process.
Loving and respecting yourself, is not about giving yourself the excuse to be able to pig out on cookie dough ice cream or Snicker bars once a month just because "you're a girl, and you have to deal with this". It doesn't justify unhealthy behaviour because "you feel like crap." Loving and respecting your body means being conscious of what you put in it and what you do with it all the time, that means during every day of your cycle whether you're ovulating or going with the flow.
That doesn't mean your period is always going to be a walk in the park. So to remedy that, here are some new things you can try out to both regulate your cycle and have those 5-7 days go smoothly. I've already posted about the vitamins and minerals you particularly need during your period here and a quick cramp fix recipe here, but here is some new advice:
Useful Herbs for a Pain-free & Regular Cycle
Who needs over the counter medicine, when we have natural herbs and plants at our disposal? I'm a huge proponent of natural remedies, and it's never let me down!
The simplest thing you can do for maintenance is to have one of my favourite teas on a regular basis. It's Yogi Tea's Women's Moon Cycle. While you can collect all these herbs on your own, I thought having them all in one tea bag is a lot much more convenient. It essentially contains everything you need, like:
Raspberry Leaf: makes your uterus stronger, and helps with cramping
Chaste Tree Berry: balances your hormones, and helps with cramping and PMS
Dong Quai: regulates cycles, reduces cramping, weakness, and is a sexual tonic for women
Licorice/Anise Seed: corrects hormone deficiencies, helps with PMS symptoms, and regulates your cycles
Maca: balances your hormones
Cinnamon: good for the digestive tract, helps with circulation and your immune system, regulates blood sugar, and helps with menstruation symptoms
Also, ever freaked out because you're late? Try having parsley and/or ginger, they work like a charm, I've tried it! You can put them in a tea, in a smoothie, or just eat them! Even if you aren't late though, both parsley and ginger are great for your circulation, digestive tract, and have tons of vitamins.
It's not just a myth! Eat Dark Chocolate!
Okay, I have to mention this one. Want something funner than tea? Yes, it is good for you to have dark chocolate during your menses! If you're in Canada, I'm a huge fan of Zazubean's Lunatic Chocolate. It's specially designed for women during menstruation. Not only is it 72% cacao, vegan, organic, and has everything you need to help you through the week, it has peppermint oil to soothe tummy trouble, as well as Don Quai, Chaste Berry, and Maca. Talk about a winner: no cramps and I get chocolate?! Yes, please!
To be more specific, chocolate contain flavonoids that have estrogen-boosting activity which can help ease the period pain. Of course, they also release dopamine, the happy hormone. Obviously, when you read that "chocolate is good for your period," we're not talking about the processed grocery store kind, you know the high-sugar commercial (usually milk) kind. We're talking about real 70%+ cacao here! Your period is not an excuse to eat commercial junk; usually, that just leaves you still feeling crappy anyway. In fact, the more you stay away from processed, high sugar, high salt, high oil/fat foods that cause cramping and bloating and move towards fresh whole foods, the happier you'll be. And of course, exercise and drink lots of water!
All these basic little things help maintain a healthier, happier, PMS-less you! And honestly, in the end, do whatever you need to do to make that time of the month pass more easily as long as it stays positive and healthy. Even if it's in the little things like having a special chocolate bar that you eat only when you have your period, do whatever it takes! Remember this is all part of your awesome mysterious femininity, chocolate included.
(top pic from here)