After battling PMS, cramps and all the fun period things that us ladies go through, I’ve managed to gather a few useful tips that I can always rely on to make my menstrual cycle more enjoyable. I want to chat all about how to reduce cramps, foods for a healthy period, self care and more. Let’s get to it gals!
First things first:
- I love my period: it means my body is functioning at optimal levels, my hormones are balanced and my body is in full-on baby making mode, which makes me uber excited!
- I’ve had my fair share of period and non-period experiences by being on the birth control pill and the IUD. Watch all about those experiences here.
- These are simply things that work for me and my body – everyone is so different and it’s important to find what works for you!
Now before we get into my top 5 things I always do on my period, I want to chat all about how to reduce CRAMPS! I have been getting so many messages about menstrual cramps ever since I posted about this on my Instagram Stories the other day. I am so surprised by how many of you have battled with cramping, too! So naturally, I want to share some of my favourite natural ways to get rid of period cramps.
Period hacks: How to reduce cramps (naturally)
Drink healing tea
Drinking certain herbal teas can help immensely to reduce cramps and release tension in the body. My top go-to tea is raspberry leaf tea for its incredible healing and nourishing properties (this stuff works wonders for cramps!).
Try this: mix 1 serving of raspberry leaf tea with a thumb of freshly chopped ginger root and sip on this throughout the day. Not only is this mixture great for period cramps but it also helps with digestion and supports the immune system.
Try this: before bed, try sipping on a blend of chamomile and peppermint for a grounding sleep and a calm body.
Try this: If you’re low on iron (which most women are, especially around their menstrual phase), try drinking nettle leaf tea.
I like to make a big pot of all 4: nettle, raspberry leaf, chamomile and peppermint with a hint of hibiscus!
Play around with temperature
A classic hot water bottle always does the trick for me! Alternatively, try spooning a pillow or having a warm bath. One way to beat stress naturally and help reduce cramping is by taking an Epsom salt bath – fill up the tub with warm water (not too hot!) and add 1/2 – 1 cup of epsom salts to the bath. Add a few drops of lavender essential oils if you wish to help promote a healthy sleep. In the winter, this is a nightly routine for me!
Try natural alternatives
Staying open to natural alternatives will be better for your overall health and help us get to the root of the problem. Instead of reaching for over-the-counter meds, try the holistic approach first! Consider seeing a naturopath to help balance hormones, a nutritionist to rule out certain foods that can impact your period health or an acupuncturist to help tonify the uterus and other areas that you may carry stress. Instead of soothing bad cramps or migraines with pain relief, try white willow bark (a naturally derived painkiller) which is what aspirin is derived from. This is the one I use.
Switch up your diet (more on this below)
Food can have such a huge impact on cramps! To break it down, foods that we should be avoiding (especially while menstruating) are:
- refined and processed sugar
- refined oils and fast foods
- processed and/or conventional meats
- foods that you might be sensitive to like dairy, wheat, etc.
Instead, stick to foods that will help reduce bloating and cramps, help balance blood sugar, beat cravings, support a healthy microbiome and make you feel energized:
- foods high in EFA’s (essential fatty acids) like wild fish, flax (loads of ground flax) and chia seeds
- probiotic-rich coconut yoghurt, naturally fermented sauerkraut or kimchi
- loads of greens like kale and spinach drizzled in lemon juice
- baked root veggies (loads of sweet potato!)
- foods high in water content like cucumber, watermelon, or whatever is in season
Use essential oils
Essential oils are a great way to help relieve tension and cramping. Many different oils are used to help with cramps and there are tons of quality brands out there that make blends specifically for menstruation or cramping, like this one or this one. Try diffusing a lavender essential oil to help relieve overall stress or rub peppermint oil on the back of your neck to help with headaches and brain fog.
OK! Now that we’ve got that sorted, we can chat all about the habits I do before/during my period. I honestly used to hate getting my period. Growing up, I was never taught how rewarding having a menstrual cycle really is. I wasn’t taught how to listen to my body’s cues or understand the 4 hormonal cycles we go through as women. I now get really excited every time my menstrual cycle comes because it reminds me to slow down and tune in.
Now onto the good stuff.
Here are 5 things I always do on my period:
I prepare…like a lot.
First things first: I prepare! Being prepared for my period makes me feel way more confident and excited. The week before I predict my menstrual cycle will begin, I:
- buy and prep foods that will help me with my cycle (see above or below)
- shift my plans so that I can spend more time at home (see below)
- schedule in lots of self-care
- plan out my workouts for the week and make sure to not be signed up to classes that might make me feel uncomfortable in the first few days of menstruation
- stock up on (refined sugar-free) chocolate because I KNOW I will crave it
I eat certain foods to support my menstrual cycle
Diet plays such a huge role in how you feel in general, so I’m not surprised that it can have such a crazy impact on how we feel during our menstrual phase. Sticking to grounding and nourishing foods during my period helps to make me feel more in tune with my body.
The plan: 3-4 days before I begin menstruation, I am usually ravenous, so this is the perfect time to batch cook some root veggies like sweet potatoes and beets to beat sugar cravings. On day 1 of menstruation, I like to be prepared and have my kitchen fully stocked with healing foods. I like to pre-cook a lentil soup or a broth of some sort.
For breakfasts, I usually opt for a nourishing beauty bircher bowl which is packed with EFA’s which help with cramping, clear skin and hormone balancing, or simply add a scoop of ground flax seeds and some maca powder to my smoothies in the morning. I also make sure to stock up on a healthier chocolatey treat like these chocolate bars or some homemade bliss balls because the chocolate cravings are REAL, my friends.
Around day 3, my body starts to crave things like baked salmon and avocado. I also love to snack on coconut yoghurt bowls and scoops of almond butter. I tend to focus heavier on healthy fats and blood sugar balancing so I can feel my best.
Examples of “period-friendly meals” I love:
Breakfast: stovetop slow-cooked oats with ground flax seeds, mashed banana, chia seeds, true cinnamon and coconut milk.
Lunch: a healing lentil soup with dried spices and fresh herbs with a slice of GF bread
Snack: coconut yoghurt with chia seeds and berries
Dinner: a leafy green salad with baked salmon and sweet potato, avocado and cucumber
Dessert: a homemade bliss ball or RSF chocolate
I say “no”…like a lot.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I hit my menstrual phase, all I want to do is curl up and watch Netflix. The moment I started realizing that self care is essential, was the same moment I realized that it’s ok to spend some time off the grid during your menstrual phase. It can be tough to say “no” the first few times, but I promise you’ll get used to it!
I now schedule my events around my period. I say “no” to social events, working late, important events, etc. as I know I won’t be able to feel fully present or happy in the moment. Instead, I ask to reschedule for the following week and focus on tuning into what my body really needs. This often looks like: watching movies cuddled up in bed, doing light yoga before work, baking cookies on a Friday night. I love having a week every month to slow down and let my body catch up to my busy lifestyle. This allows me to reconnect with myself and explore things that make me happy.
I supplement like it’s my day job
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I already love and use supplements daily. I love catering specific supplements to wherever my body needs healing the most during that time. During my menstrual phase, I like to use certain supplements to ease cramping, support digestion and clear skin.
Probiotic: I take a daily probiotic upon waking with a big glass of water.
Iron: I take this twice daily to help with iron loss.
Digestive enzymes: I take these with meals to help with digestion.
I sleep…like a lot.
Your body is going through MAJOR transitions during your period, so naturally, our bodies because overworked and exhausted very quickly. I personally like to add in some extra Z’s the first few days of my period. This usually means being in bed by 10pm and sleeping in until 8am. My body thrives off of this and makes me feel so energized for the rest of my cycle.
Do I use a menstrual cup?
For those asking about the diva cup – that’s what I use during my period. I love using a menstrual cup and think it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my health. A few notes below:
- To be honest…it’s super weird the first few times you try it. After the 3rd cycle, I confidently wear it like a pro! Don’t be intimidated if it feels funny to insert it the first few times. I promise it gets so much better and you won’t regret it.
- You can wear a menstrual cup during yoga, biking, swimming, etc! It is important to get the right sized cup for you to avoid leakage. However, I personally have never had a problem with the cup.
- It’s better for the environment (less waste)
- It’s super comfortable. I personally feel way cleaner, comfortable and confident with the diva cup (versus tampons and pads).
- It’s easier to analyze your flow through menstruation if you’re interested in learning more about your body.
- This is the one I use.
Remember, you do you boo and listen to your body! Hope you loved this post…xx
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Photo by Sara Paley Photography