Tailoring Your Diet to Your Menstrual Cycle

By Garmin Ambassador Jamie Cotter

I’ve been tracking my menstrual cycle for years and started using Menstrual Cycle Tracking (MCT) in Garmin Connect when it launched this April. The Garmin Connect feature lets you track your period, log symptoms and personal notes, identify trends in what you track over time, and receive period and fertility predictions. And my favorite feature is that it provides educational content, so you can learn how to adjust your diet based on hormone changes throughout your cycle.

It has made me more aware of hormone shifts in my body and of the diet adjustments I can make to help promote balance and well-being. The nutrition insights have helped me change up my meal planning, so I am eating the right foods at the right times to perform my best.

One of the major changes I’ve made since using MCT in Garmin Connect is eating according to my current menstrual phase.

Nutrition During the Menstruation Phase

During this phase, I focus on incorporating foods that will help to replenish my iron. One of the cool things I learned from the educational insights in the MCT feature is that you need more vitamin C to help you absorb the iron in your food better and that B12 can help boost your energy. So, I’ll cook up a batch of kale chips sprinkled with nutritional yeast (high in B12) or a chicken stir-fry with vegetables high in vitamin C such as bell peppers, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Nutrition During the Follicular Phase

I’ve also learned about the importance of eating food that metabolizes estrogen, because it is so high during this phase. For this reason, I usually add a can of sardines to my lunch. Sardines are easy, convenient and delicious — at least I think so. If you’re not into sardines, try adding other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon, cod, coconut oil or chia seeds. I like to eat a piece of dark chocolate for dessert every night during this phase for the antioxidants, but you can also try blueberries, artichokes, kidney beans or blackberries.

Nutrition During the Ovulation Phase

Another interesting thing I learned is that your overall body temperature is higher during this phase. I’ve really noticed that when I exercise in the heat or take a hot yoga class during this phase, I do get hotter and sweat more than usual. It’s so important to stay hydrated while training, so I like to drink cold water, as well as electrolyte drinks, during long or intense workouts.

Nutrition During the Luteal Phase

This phase comes with a lot of trouble (thank you, PMS). I’ve found a few ways to deal with things like excessive hunger and cravings. If I feel like a bottomless pit, I focus on eating lots of nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods, such as vegetables and protein. I always make sure to pack an extra can of tuna or sardines in my lunchbox to help keep me feeling full for longer.

When it comes to cravings, my biggest tip is to find a healthier alternative to the treats you crave. Food has a massive impact on the way your body functions, and eating real, whole foods will help with PMS. For example, if I’m craving a carton of ice cream, I like to blend up frozen bananas for a cold, creamy treat. Or if I want greasy take-out, I whip up my favorite dish at home instead to make sure I’m not taking in as much sodium and fat.

Tracking your cycle can help you learn about your “normal.” Menstrual Cycle Tracking in Garmin Connect has allowed me to be more in tune with my body and to learn what to expect during each phase. Remember, everyone is different, and you should always listen to what YOUR body needs. If you understand how your cycle affects you, you’ll be able to optimize your diet to best work with your body and reach your goals.

The information provided through our blog or e-mails is not intended to be and is not a substitute for, professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment that can be provided by your own health care professional.  Garmin is not attempting to diagnose, treat or cure any physical ailment, or any mental or emotional issue, disease or condition. Our blogs are intended to help you reach your own health and wellness goals.