Have you wondered what impact changing your diet would have on your menstrual cycle? Do you suffer from extremely painful cramping every month and look for natural ways to reduce it?
One of the most surprising things I’ve found over the years is how much changing my diet has impacted on my menstrual cycle.
When living a busy life in London with a reasonably “healthy” diet (in the popular culture sense of the phrase) with plenty of wholegrains and brown rice for fibre and the odd take away for a treat, I found that I always suffered from cramping on the first few days of my period. This cramping was debilitating and often left me unable to do much more than lie on the floor if I hadn’t done any serious exercise in the week leading up to it.
I explained in an article last Wednesday the different changes I’ve made to my diet. These are the changes I also noticed happening to my menstrual cycle at the same time.
As background it is worth noting that throughout the “trial period” of a couple of years I was on the contraceptive pill and at the start I had, for a few years been settled into a pattern of finishing my pack on Thursday morning and my period starting between 11am and 12pm on the following Sunday and going on until the Thursday.
Reduced carbohydrate intake
Removing grains at dinner and lunch, therefore reducing my carbohydrate intake, but keeping porridge at breakfast reduced the cramping pains a little and left me able to still move about on a Sunday afternoon, though they were definitely still there.
Other than that, there were no changes to my periods.
Anabolic diet – but with grains
The initial move to the anabolic diet, retaining grains in the diet in the form of oats and wholegrains, had the following impact on my menstrual cycle:
- Bleeding starting early afternoon on the Saturday, instead of Sunday.
- Period continuing to end on the Thursday, so effectively an extra day of bleeding.
- Noticeably lighter flow (so I wasn’t too bothered about the extra day).
- No further changes to the cramping pains.
Anabolic diet – fully paleolithic
Removing the grains and anything else non-paleo from the diet, so that the carbs on my bulking day were clean, had an immediate noticeable impact on my cycle:
- All cramping gone. I can now operate as normal at the weekend and don’t have to arrange my life around my period to the same extent.
- Flow even lighter.
- To balance out the reduced flow, I now go on until the end of Friday, so I’ve now got 6 days. It’s a small price to pay!
Diet can have a significant impact on the menstrual cycle. Most noticeable are the following points:
- Removing grains and other non-paleo foods reduces, or can even eliminate, cramping. This is a phenomenon also noted by Carrie Sisson in a women’s specific primal lifestyle Q&A post.
- A paleolithic diet may also assist in reducing flow.
- Carb cycling through the anabolic diet reduces flow and appears to make periods lighter.
- Anabolic diet could change the timing of your menstrual cycle.
Have you changed your diet and noticed similar impacts on your cycle?