The Four Seasons of Your Cycle
Rebecca Verhofstede - Midwife & Menstrual Cycle Expert
Here at Guud Woman, we talk a lot about the four seasons of our menstrual cycles. In each season of your cycle, your body needs different things: different food, different levels of activity and a different approach to sleep and socialization. That’s because your body creates different hormones in each season that impact all aspects of your life.
It can sound a bit abstract, but once you understand each phase, you can start living according to your cycle, and this is where the magic happens. Once you tune into your body and understand the seasons, you can make better choices when it comes to nutrition, exercise and lifestyle.
Here are the benefits of living according to your cycle:
- You’ll feel better (and be a little less hard on yourself on those days when you’re not feeling your best!)
- You can make better decisions
- You can add more variety to your life both in terms of nutrition and exercise
- You’ll be more in tune with your body as you start to recognize patterns
- You will notice a decrease in PMS symptoms
How to use this post
In this article, we want to take you through the four seasons in a simple way so that you can see how you might feel in each phase. We want this post to be a one-stop resource for you. Bookmark it and come back to it often, so you can see how your cycle aligns with the different seasons we describe here.
🌸 Spring (aka the Follicular Phase)
Number of Days: 7-10
When: The week after your period
What it feels like: This is a time of new beginnings, and this is exactly what’s happening in your body. This is the time following your period, when an egg matures, and your cycle starts all over again. In this phase, you will feel pretty Guud: energetic, confident and full of energy.
What to eat: You might not feel as hungry during this phase because your metabolism slows down a bit. As a result, you might need fewer calories than normal. This is a great week for:
- Lots of fresh veggies
- Fermented foods like kimchi, tempeh, probiotic yoghurt, kombucha
- More protein. Get it in things like Greek yoghurt, fish or tofu. Meat can be a good source too, but try to get a majority of your protein through plants. Think of things like soya, buckwheat, quinoa and hempseed. Other good options are things like oats, broccoli, carrots, avocado, courgette, salad, green lentils, pumpkin seeds, cashews and flaxseed.
- Because estrogen is still low in the beginning of the follicular phase it’s a good idea to add foods like edamame, flaxseeds, dried fruits that are rich in phytoestrogens.*
* Phytoestrogens, also known as dietary estrogen, are naturally occurring plant compounds that may act in a way similar to that of estrogen produced by the human body.
What to do: You’ll have lots of energy in this phase so it’s a good time to do a workout like a HIIT class or pick up some heavier weights at the gym. If you want a challenge, go for it. You may also be feeling more social, so get out there and see some friends.
☀️ Summer (aka the Ovulation Phase)
Number of days: 3-4
What it feels like: Welcome to the most fertile season of your cycle. If you are trying to have a baby, this is when you need to have sex for your greatest chance of success. You’ll be feeling vibrant, full of life, confident and sexy!
What to eat: Your body temperature will actually start to rise during this phase (It is summertime, after all!) so try to choose fruits and veggies with a cooling effect. Also, make sure you eat things with vitamin B like:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Eggs and meat
You should also try to get some zinc during the Summer seasons because it helps with the production of progesterone, an important hormone you need after ovulation. You can get zinc from things like pumpkin seeds, fish, meat and poultry, eggs, mushrooms, wheat germ, whole grains and a variety of dietary supplements.
What to do: It’s a good time to get some socialising on the agenda! You’ll have plenty of energy during this phase, and you’ll feel happy, attractive and confident. Schedule dinner and drinks. Go on a date. Or meet some new people. You’re at your best during this phase. Because you’ll have a lot of energy during this phase, it’s an ideal time to challenge yourself physically too. Go for a cardio-busting workout like a bootcamp or power yoga.
🍂 Autumn (aka the Luteal Phase)
Number of days: 10-14
When: 2 weeks before your menstruation
What it feels like: Time to take it down a notch. This is PMS season. PMS is caused by changes in progesterone and estrogen. It can cause things like bloating, headaches, skin problems and sore breasts. Mood swings, low mood and depression are also common.
What to eat: Don’t worry! It’s not all bad news! You can actually reduce your PMS symptoms by eating differently during this season. Your body actually needs more calories during this season so stock up on complex carbs and protein so you can feel more full after every meal.
Here are a few tips:
- Make your liver happy with lean proteins like chickpeas, lentils, fish and cruciferous veggies like cabbage, broccoli, watercress and kale.
- Try to avoid alcohol, coffee, black tea, processed foods, white carbs, refined sugar, gluten and dairy. This is because your body needs to break down oestrogen and this process happens in your liver.
- Help your gut by eating plenty of fibre from vegetables like parsnips, sweet potato and kohlrabi. These are high-fibre vegetables that fill you up and help get rid of sugar cravings.
- Consider adding some probiotics into your diet to keep your gut healthy and help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your gut.
What to do: At the end of this phase, your energy levels drop and you’ll feel tired - both emotionally and physically. Skip the hardcore gym sessions and run clubs. Instead, go easy on yourself and practice some self-care. If you’re up for it, try Pilates or some restorative yoga. A walk in nature is also nice. Allow yourself to say no to social gatherings if you’re not up for it. You’ll be back!
⛄ Winter (aka the Menstrual Phase)
Number of days: 3-7
When: The days you are bleeding
What it feels like: You have your period. You know what this feels like. While it’s different for every woman, you might experience things like headaches and cramps alongside bleeding. A lot is going on in your body. Give it some grace!
What to eat: You may seek warmth during this phase so roll out the comfort food. Soups and stews are a nice option, but just make sure you:
- Get enough omega 3, which can be found in fish like wild salmon, sardines and mackerel. Not into fish? You can up that omega 3 intake with sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts.
- Get extra magnesium. You can get it from dark leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, bananas, raw cacao, fish and shellfish, avocados and supplements.
- Get extra iron. Find it in things like long-drawn broth of bones and meat, beetroot, watercress, sesame seeds, goji berries, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, dark green leafy vegetables, dates, dried apricots, almonds, nettle tea and black molasses.
What to do: This is where you can put your feet up, guilt-free. This is the season of rest and recovery. If you feel tired, respect that. Rest and make sure you get enough sleep. If you do feel like exercising, opt for low impact options like yoga, stretching or walking.
Discover how Hannah feels since she lives according to the four seasons of her cycle:
More questions about your cycle? Talk to us. We’re here to support you.