Fatigue, water retention and cramps – sound familiar? You’re not alone. Most of us experience these menstrual symptoms on a monthly basis but the good news is, they can be managed in a delicious way. Just cook accordingly, and heed the advice from women’s health specialist and nutritionist Lola Ross.
Fatigue (Bleed phase)
Try a Japanese Sea Vegetable + Cucumber salad
For two servings, you’ll need
2 Tbsp. dried Wakame seaweed
1 Japanese or regular cucumber
pinch of Himalayan salt
1.5 Tbsp. organic rice vinegar
¼ tsp. organic tamari
1/4 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
½ tsp. organic sesame seeds
Hydrate dried Wakame seaweed in water for 10 minutes. Drain water and squeeze water out from Wakame.
Slice cucumbers as thin as you can. Stir in salt, and let sit for 5 minutes. Squeeze water out from cucumbers.
In a small bowl, mix rice vinegar, tamari, and sesame oil together. Add vinegar mix and sesame seeds to prepared cucumbers and Wakame and mix well.
“Iron lost in your blood during your bleed can lead to lower energy and fatigue. Replenish iron levels with iron-rich sea veggies. Boosting them with vitamin C rich cucumber can help support iron absorption. Sea vegetables also contain useful levels of magnesium, the mineral known for its natural pain relieving qualities. This refreshing salad may also help ease menstrual headaches and cramps that can add to feelings of fatigue,” Lola says.
Menstrual cramps (Reflect + bleed phase)
Try Wild Turmeric Salmon
For two servings, you’ll need
2 wild salmon fillets
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. sea salt
½ teaspoon of finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon of avocado oil
Place the fillets on a glass baking tray. Place all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix into a marinate. Massage marinade into the fillets. Place in tray in over under a medium grill for 15 minutes. Serve with a crunchy salad and brown rice or quinoa.
“Cycle-associated cramps often occur during the reflect and bleed phases of the cycle. This is due to hormonally-driven rise in the inflammatory hormone-like substance called prostaglandin PGE2. Essential fatty acid (EFAs)-containing foods can help to reduce pain by increasing the calming prostaglandins PGE1and PGE3 that can reduce inflammatory pain. The omega 3 fatty acids found in wild salmon are great sources of EFAs. Turmeric contains the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin, which can support pain management. This is a great anti-inflammatory dish during these phases,” Lola says.
Water/fluid retention (all phases)
Try a Watermelon, Cucumber + Mint Smoothie
5 cups of seedless watermelon, cut into chunks
½ cup of fresh mint leaves
3 medium-size organic cucumbers cut into chunks
1/3 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup ice
Place watermelon, mint, cucumber, lime juice and ice in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately and store in an airtight flask and drink over 24 hours.
“Keeping well hydrated may seem counterintuitive when you are experiencing bloating and water retention. However, increasing water intake can support healthy circulation and excretion of fluid, restoring balance. Watermelon has a high water content and plenty of fibre that boosts internal hydration. It also has a diuretic effect so a useful healthy food to support water balance. Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, which also have a diuretic effect, so double win,” Lola says.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.