How to Eat According to Your Cycle

How to Eat According to Your Cycle

As part of our series on women’s health for International Women’s Day, we're sharing how to eat according to your cycle, including foods to add to your shopping list for each phase!

The menstrual cycle is a complex dance of hormones, with each phase bringing unique needs. From managing cramps to boosting your energy, what you put on your plate can really help you feel great!

What are the phases of the menstrual cycle?

First things first, let’s dive into the phases of the cycle. A typical menstrual cycle is 28 days long (although we’re all different!). It is split into 4 phases:

4 phases of the menstrual cycle

  • Menstruation (Days 1-5): This is your period, lasting on average 3-5 days. The lining of your uterus (endometrium) that wasn't used in the previous cycle sheds as blood.
  • Follicular Phase (Days 5-14): While you're on your period, this phase has already begun! Estrogen rises, stimulating the growth of follicles (tiny sacs) in your ovaries, each containing an egg. One lucky follicle will mature into a dominant follicle with a mature egg.
  • Ovulation (Day 14-ish): Around day 14 in a 28-day cycle, the dominant follicle releases its mature egg from the ovary. This is your fertile window, the time you can get pregnant.
  • Luteal Phase (Days 15-28): After ovulation, the empty follicle transforms into a corpus luteum, which produces progesterone. Progesterone further prepares the uterine lining for a possible pregnancy. If fertilization doesn't occur, progesterone levels drop, leading to the shedding of the lining during the next menstruation and the cycle starts again.

This is a general guide, as everyone experiences slightly different cycles.

Cycle syncing your diet

Your body needs different nutrients at each stage of the cycle. Tailoring your diet to your cycle may seem like a task, but we're here to help with some shopping lists for each phase.

Menstruation phase

During your period your mood, fatigue and cramping might cause you to reach for the comfort food lacking in essential nutrients. Choosing the right foods here could really help!

Foods to focus on in this phase:

  • Iron rich foods to replace the iron lost during your period
  • Vitamin C (which helps with iron absorption)
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, which may have anti-inflammatory properties

Add these to your shopping list:

  • Iron rich:
    • Leafy greens
    • Lean red meat
    • Lentils
    • Beans
  • Vitamin C:
    • Tomatoes
    • Peppers
  • Omega-3:
    • Salmon (or other fatty fish such as mackerel or sardines)
    • Flaxseeds
    • Walnuts
    • Chia seeds

Menstrual Phase Shopping List Phone

Follicular phase

This is your high energy phase! Choose foods that will help sustain your energy levels.

Your oestrogen levels will start to rise in this phase too. Include foods that may help balance your oestrogen levels.

Add these to your shopping list:

  • High energy:
    • Wholegrains (e.g. oats, brown rice, quinoa)
    • Fruit
    • Sweet potatoes
  • Oestrogen balancing:
    • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale) - these help with liver detoxification
    • Fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi), to support your gut microbiome

Follicular Phase Shopping List Phone


Your oestrogen levels (and energy levels!) are still very high at this stage. Help your body balance oestrogen levels with by continuing to eat oestrogen balancing foods. Make sure you stay hydrated at this phase too!

  • Oestrogen balancing:
    • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and kale)
    • Fermented foods (like sauerkraut, kefir and kimchi).


Ovulation Phase Shopping List Phone


You may start to feel PMS symptoms in this phase, as well as those hunger pangs! Including foods rich in B vitamins and magnesium may help.

  • B vitamins:
    • Pork
    • Poultry
    • Peanuts
    • Oats
    • Bananas
    • Chickpeas
  • Magnesium:
    • Nuts (almonds and cashews are great sources)
    • Leafy greens (such as spinach)
    • Avocado
    • Dark chocolate (yes, please!)

Luteal Phase Shopping List Phone

Remember: This is a general guide. Listen to your body's unique needs and adjust your food choices accordingly.

By understanding the connection between food and your menstrual cycle, hopefully you feel empowered to make informed choices that support your well-being throughout the month!

Getting the balance right every day can sometimes be difficult. You may want to choose a supplement to help support you through your cycle. 

Emma x


Emma Product Manager and Nutritionist at Wassen

Sign up below to receive the next part of our series: how to exercise through your cycle, straight to your inbox.



Back to blog