Final post in the how to eat to support your menstrual cycle series! This time we are looking at the ovulatory phase aka the “inner summer”.
What is ovulation? When is the ovulatory phase?
For those who enjoy being active and productive, ovulation can be the phase of the cycle where you feel most at home. For others, the high energy can be overwhelming and unsteadying and hormone imbalances may cause symptoms such as acne or anxiety. But whatever your experience, nourishing your body with the right foods can bring balance and harmony.
Once we finish bleeding, our hormones and energy levels steadily rise during the follicular phase and peak around ovulation. At this time we experience a surge in estrogen as well as luteinizing hormone which causes our ovary to release an egg. For a 28 day cycle, ovulation typically occurs at the mid point of the cycle, around day 14. Depending on your unique cycle, the ovulatory phase itself can begin a couple of days before ovulation and last for 4-7 days.
What is the ovulatory phase diet?
The ovulatory phase diet is designed to:
- Help you to feel fresh and light in your body
- Support your natural detoxification processes
- Flush out excess estrogen from your system
- Cool your body during this “hot” phase of the cycle
How much should I eat during the ovulatory phase? What to eat during the ovulatory phase?
Similar to the follicular phase, around ovulation we usually have more energy and need less support from heavier calorie dense foods. What we want here is nutrient dense foods like fruits and veggies, lighter grains and proteins. Up until ovulation, we are still in the “yin energy” part of our cycle meaning that cooling, water rich foods will help to support our body. Juicy fruits, fresh salad greens and herbs are all great at this time. The fibre in these foods will also help to keep your digestive system moving and flush out any excess estrogen which can lead to symptoms such as acne showing up at this time. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and kale are the best for clearing out estrogen.
Now is a time to choose lighter ways to prepare your food such as steaming and include more raw foods. Think about the types of foods you might crave in actual summer! Big rainbow salads and smoothies are great at this time to provide our bodies with all the nutrients it needs and to help with detox and cleansing of the system. If you live in a cold climate, your digestion can’t handle too many raw foods or you just don’t enjoy them, go for lighter soups or salads with lightly cooked veggies instead and you will still get all of the health benefits. Raw fruits are amazing as snacks just check whatever is in season locally to save money and maximise health benefits.
We need less of the density from fats and proteins during this time but it is still important to include them in your diet. Think cold pressed oils on a salad or seeds sprinkled on a soup during the winter. If you want to experiment with a plant-based or vegan diet, ovulation is a good time to give it a go or for a mini-cleanse each month to give your system a break from animal products. You could get your protein from the veggies you are eating plus beans and seeds such as pumpkin and flax seeds. Otherwise, white meat and yoghurt are good sources of protein for the ovulatory phase.
What are the best foods to support ovulation?
My top recommendations:
- Fruits – berries, citrus
- Veggies – salads, tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, peppers, courgette
- Carbs – quinoa, sweetcorn, wheat (small amounts)
- Proteins – white meat, yogurt, beans, pumpkin/flax seeds
- Fats – nuts and seeds especially pumpkin and flax seeds
Meal ideas for the ovulatory phase
Any finally some examples of some easy meals for inspiration. Some of these are repeated from my last post and that’s because there are no fixed phases of the cycle.. in reality they flow from one to the next and aren’t clearly defined. The most important thing is to learn to tune into your body and see what it needs each day.
- Fresh fruit salad – strawberries are great during this phase. Add ground seeds for some healthy fats and proteins
- Zuccini noodles aka “zoodles” with creamy or tomato based sauce
- Pasta salad with peas and green beans
Foods to avoid during ovulation
In the same way as during the follicular phase, we can also consume less fatty foods during this time to give our digestive system a break and choose healthy plant fats such as avocado, seeds and olive oil. Save the roasted foods or higher fat animal products for later in the cycle when you might need that comfort and warmth. Experiment with cooking styles that feel light and fresh in your body and keep it simple! Enjoy the natural tastes of plant foods without too many added condiments and spices and this can be a great time to connect with nature and re-sensitise your taste buds each month.
Over to you…
I hope this article gave you some inspiration on how to eat to feel fresh and light during the ovulatory phase! If you’re interested in reading more about nutrition and the menstrual cycle check out the posts linked below. Like this post and follow my blog for more recipes and posts on how to eat to support your menstrual cycle.
- Tell me in the comments below what are your favourite foods or meals to eat during this part of your cycle?
- If you want to work with me to get healthy and balance your hormones, contact me for more information about the nutrition and health coaching packages I offer.