We can think of our luteal phase like autumn: there’s the bright crispness of early autumn and then the darker, colder days of late autumn. In our early luteal phase, we still have lots of energy and our moods are still balanced. As estrogen and progesterone naturally start to gradually decline, we might find that we move a little slower and we get super focused on working through our to do lists as a way of getting as much as possible done as we move towards the end our menstrual cycle and get ready to start anew.
What To Eat
Potassium: If you get bloated before your period, foods with potassium can be really beneficial to add into your meals. This mineral works hand in hand with sodium as electrolytes that help our cells work their best and maintain fluid balance in the body, which then helps to reduce bloating. Another benefit is potassium’s ability to reduce premenstrual sugar cravings. Try adding potatoes, apricots, prunes, bananas, artichokes, oranges, sunflower seeds, and eggs into your meals during your luteal phase.
Tryptophan: Premenstrual mood changes can start to crop up in the 5 – 7 days before your next period starts. Try adding more high protein into your meals to keep your blood sugar levels balanced and reduce the risk of your mood suddenly shifting. There is a specific amino acid (these are the building blocks of protein) called tryptophan that helps our body make more serotonin, our happy hormone. You can find it in organic, free-range poultry, red meat, pork, wild salmon, beans, pumpkin seeds, oats and eggs.
How To Move
When I talk about exercise, many women have shared that they’ve felt really down on themselves when they can’t exercise with the same intensity throughout their menstrual cycle. My advice is to embrace these changes and listen to your body. You may lean into slower forms of exercise such as swimming, slow flow yoga, a long walk or hike or a bike ride. The rise of progesterone after ovulation means we have slightly less glucose available, so the endurance exercise you do during ovulation may still feel good for you during the early stages of the luteal phase. Instead of pushing through, take it day by day and move your body in a way that feels right to you. That might be a lower-intensity version of what you normally do.
Late Luteal: Hip Opening Flow
Le’Nise Brothers is a yoga teacher and registered nutritionist, mBANT, mCNHC, specialising in women’s health, hormones and the menstrual cycle. She is also the host of the Period Story podcast, which aims to break taboos around menstrual health and hormones.
Le’Nise has helped hundreds of women improve their menstrual and hormone health through her private practice and group programmes, talks and workshops for the likes of Stylist, Channel 4, Ebay and TikTok and her Instagram page.
Her first book You Can Have A Better Period will be released on 8th March 2022.