Traditionally, women would take respite during the menstrual cycle, rightly using it as a time to nurture themselves to allow the healing & detoxification process to happen optimally. There is a reason that this process is often painful, brings out rushes of wild moods, cravings and sometimes complete exhaustion. Your body is undergoing a complete reno on a regular basis, stripping down the walls and redecorating, waiting for the next delivery of homewares for that month. And Mr Delivery Man doesn’t just knock quietly when he arrives for Ovulation, sometimes he bangs so hard on that door that the door comes clean off its hinges. It is the process that allows us to bring life into this world, to continue the human race. When men (and women tsk tsk) make jokes about this precious time, or worse – tell their partners to “suck it up”, they are seeing this process as a hassle to their lives (what no sex for a whole week? are you kidding me!) rather than the very process that put them on this earth. Men are lucky that the Man Flu only strikes them down once or twice a year (more for some – who are obviously supported by strong and patient wives). They forget that this process deserves celebration not ridicule and their partners, sisters and mums deserve care special care during this time. I am lucky that hubs treats me to head and belly rubs and soothing noises of empathy during this time – amazing man that he is – but I also suffer from endometriosis so the pain renders me speechless and unable to stay upright. I have never taken pain killers for this because I believe my body is going through a natural process, but I have found food is indeed medicine (hence this recipe).
Our busy life doesn’t allow us to take this week of respite but we can make sure it is a more nurturing time than usual. Change your green smoothies to start the day with a cramp-reducing concoction of epic superfoodness (yes I’m making up words again). Add a green tea to your afternoon and eat 70% cocoa dark chocolate to boost magnesium and ease cramping and craving. Give yourself a foot massage before bed, redirecting your mindful attention to your aching feet (yes they will be aching) instead of your cramping belly. Switch up your meditation practice to include mindful awareness of the menstrual process, focusing on the pain as a colour and a shape, watching it curiously and gratefully as it moves about your body, remembering why it is happening, and sending “love” to these parts of your body, warm your hands up by rubbing them rapidly together and then placing them above your ovaries in a sign of self-compassion (self-compassion is an incredibly powerful tool for healing). Go slower each day and say “no” more. Stay in instead of going out. Soak your feet in an Epsom salts bath in a bucket when you get home from work. Spend as much time in your pyjamas as possible. And most importantly, don’t feel guilty…you deserve this and your body needs it.
The Menstrual Smoothie (does this conjure any images? Perhaps the name is not ideal…)
Generous handful of parsley to help relieve cramps
Cranberries (food medicine for urinary tract health, brilliant for anyone that gets infection from lack of good bacteria e.g. After taking antibiotics…and is also a superfood in general!)
Assorted greens (tatsoi, kale, spinach, arugula) for magnesium which relaxes muscles, reducing cramping and allowing for better sleep
Celery is also great for reducing pain and inflammation
Dates to sweeten and mask the taste of the greens
Raw egg for protein to help heal
Chia seeds for healthy omegas
Banana (think of something and banana will probably help…it’s a super superfood)
Almond milk (homemade or unsweetened to avoid high sugar), coconut milk or water (avoid dairy this week)
Sesame seeds to reduce cramping
Served with green tea which also eases menstrual symptoms.
Much love to you and your bits xxx
You might also like the BananaBerry SuperSmoothie
And more food ideas for cramps here.