Women HAVE probably have noticed fluctuations in energy, appetite, and cravings throughout the month. This is totally natural and, in fact, tuning into these changes be very useful! So instead of beating yourself up when you’re craving that extra helping of sweet potatoes or dark chocolate, learn how to work with your body by eating according to its different phases—much like you might do during rotating seasons of the year.
We are cyclical beings. As women, our cycle is what allows us to release eggs, create life, or start the pattern over again—month after month. However, many of us aren’t aware that, within that cycle, we hold the energy of the four seasons. Just as the earth experiences cycles and changes throughout those seasons, so do we!
When we understand the ebbs and flows of our inner seasons, we can plan our food choices around them to give us more energy, help us balance our hormones, and allow us more time to spend doing the things we love (since we won’t spend as much time thinking about what to eat).
Before we can begin to eat according to the seasons in our body, it helps to have an understanding of those energetic shifts.
You’ve probably noticed that your energy is different when the seasons change. When winter comes, you are more likely to stay indoors, cozy and safe. More than likely, you find yourself being a little less social than you are during the summer and are probably more introspective. When the new year comes around, you’re assessing your current situation and making goals or intentions for the coming year. You may also notice that at the end of summer, as autumn begins, you start to move a little slower, making your routines a priority (think: school’s starting back up, so it’s time to get more sleep and eat dinner at a reasonable hour). It’s no coincidence that you have these slight changes throughout the different seasons of the year.
These seasons happen within a year, but, in a woman’s body, these changes happen every month! Our feminine cycle mirrors the moon’s cycle and starts over roughly every 29 days. Obviously, every woman’s body is different, and it’s totally normal for a cycle to last a little longer or shorter. When we are going through a healing process, our cycle can change drastically—sometimes resulting in irregular periods or hormonal imbalances. However, for simplicity, let’s assume your cycle is 29 days. In that span of time, you experience—just like the earth—each of the four seasons.
As women, we often have an imbalance (too much or too little) of both stress hormones and sex hormones. This can be understood by using the basic Chinese principles of yin and yang. We are always striving for balance. Living (and eating) in alignment with our bodies brings the equilibrium that is vital to a healthy life.
Cycle Phase 1: Winter / Menstrual phase
Cycle Phase 2: Spring / Follicular phase
Cycle Phase 3: Summer / Ovulatory phase
Cycle Phase 4: Fall / Luteal phase
Again, each woman’s body is different. For instance, a menstrual phase may last two days for some and seven days for others. Often though, the longest phase is the Luteal, or premenstrual, phase. A huge reason for balancing hormones is so that the premenstrual phase and the symptoms that often accompany it (major mood swings, PMDD, cravings, acne, bloating, and more) can be reduced.
In order to plan meals around your cycle, you’ll first want to track your cycle and understand which phase you’re in at any given time. Once you know the phase you’re in, you can incorporate different types of foods into your meals!
Think of eating in alignment with the seasons—almost like you would by only getting ingredients that are at the farmer’s market.
Winter (Menstrual phase): Energy is low, and appetite is high. Warm the body with nourishing soups and stews with root veggies like beets and carrots.
Spring (Follicular phase): Energy begins to rise, so cool down the body with fresher foods incorporating lots of leafy greens.
Summer (Ovulatory phase): Energy is at its highest point, so stay light and cool with salads and lots of seasonable fresh vegetables.
Fall: (Luteal phase): Energy is low, and the body may feel tired. Warm back up with heavier foods cooked all the way through for easy digestion. Try to incorporate things like roasted veggies and lean red meat.
There are literally thousands of different diets out there. It’s up to us to find out what works for our bodies. When we have the seasons as our guide, it frees up the mind. We often intuitively know what’s best for our body, and this is a simple but impactful way for us to trust ourselves more than anyone else.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into your cycles and learn about each phase of your cycle including the physical, energetic, and emotional shifts of each phase, you can visit lunarnourishment.com. To get 15 percent off of my online course, Balanced Babes, just use code AUSTINFITLOVE at checkout!