Toasted bread (ideally gluten free , sprouted or fermented) makes for the perfect backdrop for all sorts of healthy and hormone balancing toppings and spreads. We’ve put together four toast topping ideas to showcase how ‘Eating For Your Cycle’ works in optimizing your fertility and balancing your menstrual cycle. You can enjoy toast topped with avocado and smoked salmon to support natural ovulation or beet hummus and seaweed to help prevent PMS and support your progesterone levels.
How eating for your cycle works?
Your menstrual cycle has four distinctive phases; follicular, ovulatory, luteal and menstrual. In each phase, your hormonal levels change to prepare the body for a potential conception and pregnancy. The hormone shifts that happen in each phase of your cycle have a profound impact on your nutritional requirements, food cravings, energy levels, communication skills and neurochemistry.
You can use food to help support this natural process. For example, some nutrients help build progesterone which is dominant in the second half of the cycle while some nutrients detox or build estrogen. If you’re experiencing PMS, painful cramping, heavy periods, infertility or PCOS, eating for your cycle can be a powerful tool in getting your body back in balance.
Here are some examples of how you can eat for each phase of your cycle:
Follicular Phase (6-10 days) The beginning of the cycle happens when the pituitary gland releases follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) which stimulate the growth of the ovarian follicle to mature and prepares it for release. Estrogen levels start to increase to thicken your uterine lining.
Eating For The Follicular Phase Tip Eat foods that are high in antioxidants to support the development of the egg. Healthy fats such as avocado and smoked wild salmon are really beneficial in supporting ovulation.
Toast Toppings: Smoked Salmon, Mashed Avocado, Fresh Dill and Pumpkin Seeds
Ovulatory Phase (3-4 days) This is when you will be at peak fertility. FSH and estrogen peak. Then the luteinizing hormone starts to rise which stimulates the follicle to burst and release an egg into the fallopian tube. Testosterone surges and the drops after you ovulate.
Eating For Your Cycle Tip-If you have signs of high estrogen-like PMS during this time you want to eat estrogen detoxing foods like cruciferous vegetables, broccoli sprouts and high fiber foods. Eat aphrodisiac foods that are high in zinc to support your sex drive like oysters, figs and pistachios.
Toast Toppings: Figs, Pistachio, Goat cheese and Rose Petals
Luteal Phase (10-14 days) The follicle that the egg burst from grows on the surface of the ovary and starts to produce progesterone. The progesterone signals the body to keep the uterine lining intact. Estrogen and progesterone slowly decrease which signal the body to release the uterine lining. (aka) your period.
It’s important to note that progesterone is the dominant hormone during the luteal phase. If estrogen gets too high or if progesterone is too low then it can cause PMS, breast tenderness, heavy period or other menstrual issues. PMS may be normal but it’s not natural. It’s actually a sign of estrogen dominance. If progesterone isn’t high enough it can decrease serotonin which can cause anxiety, depression and mood swings during your luteal phase.
Eating For The Luteal Phase Tip- Your body really wants magnesium rich foods (which would explain the chocolate cravings) and you basal metabolic rate increase so you will require more calories in the phase. Eat a serving of serving leafy greens every day during the luteal phase to get your magnesium up.
Toast Toppings: Beet Hummus, Greens and Seaweed
Menstrual Phase (3-7 days)- The end and beginning of your cycle. Progesterone drops which triggers the shedding of the uterine lining. Estrogen peaks and then drops off again. Generally, your hormones levels are quite low, you may feel a sense of relief and a sense that you can think more clearly since your estrogen dropped.
Eating For The Menstrual Phase Tip: In traditional Chinese medicine, they stress the importance of keeping your body warm and make sure to not get ‘cold’ in the uterus. Eating cold food can contribute to cramps. Make yourself up a big pot of warming stew and consume warming spices like ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg.
Toast Toppings: Nut Butter, Banana, Raspberries and Pumpkin Seeds
Learn more about how to eat for your cycle this November in Madeline’s 4 Part Eating For Your Cycle series at The Light Cellar. You will learn how to track your cycle, balance your hormones and develop a deeper connection to your body. She will teach you how to eat during each phase of your cycle and demo healthy delicious recipes you can learn to make at home. Click here to learn more and register.
Online ‘Eating For Your Cycle’ program will be out soon. Email Madeline@naturalhormonehealing.com to get on the waiting list to be the first to know.
Photos by Sarah Steffens of Savor & Fancy
Sarah Steffens is a Personal Chef based in Los Angeles. She specializes in Paleo, Autoimmune, and Whole30 cooking and believes food is the starting ground for practicing kindness to one’s body, mind and spirit. In addition to cooking for private clients, she also creates recipes and photography for Whole30. She shares recipes and kitchen tips at Savor & Fancy.