Doctor reveals small dietary changes to improve menstrual cycle

How to biohack your period: Doctor reveals what to eat and drink at every stage of month – from healthy fats to beat cravings during ovulation to anti-inflammatory walnuts to reduce cramps

  • Dr Alona Pulde co-authored the bestselling book The Forks Over Knives Plan 
  • She revealed  how diet impacts you during each phase of your menstrual cycle
  • Shared which foods can help replenish your body and balance your hormones
  • Advised eating iron-rich foods at the start of your period and carbs in your last 

A doctor has revealed how small dietary changes can ease symptoms during every phase of your menstrual cycle. 

Los Angeles-based doctor Alona Pulde is the woman behind the groundbreaking documentary Forks Over Knives and co-wrote the  bestselling diet plan of the same name. 

In collaboration with Lifesum, she’s revealed how small changes to what we’re eating can have a huge impact on how we feel during our period -from consuming iron-rich foods while menstruating, to clearing out excess oestrogen with fermented food.  

‘What you eat plays a huge role in overall health creation, including how you feel throughout your cycle,’ said Dr Pulde.

‘Most people think of periods as just a week-long occurrence, but in reality it’s a month-long cycle and nutrient-dense foods can help replenish your body and balance your hormones throughout.’  

 Here, Femail reveals exactly which types of food to eat at each phase of your cycle to ensure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. 

Los Angeles-based doctor Alona Pulde revealed how diet impacts you during each phase of your menstrual cycle


This is the first two weeks (days 1-12) of the cycle, and overlaps with the menstrual phase. During this phase, oestrogen levels start to rise again and energy increases.

With more energy you may also notice greater motivation to exercise and get back on your healthy eating track. 

Eating fibre-rich foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes) and fermented foods (kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut) help to metabolise and clear excess oestrogen.

‘During this phase, it’s common to have more energy,’ says Dr Pulde. ‘Now is a great time to incorporate nutrient-dense foods rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre, including fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds and whole grains.’ 

During the first two weeks of your period, Dr Alona Pulde advises eating fibre-rich foods and fermented food and drinks such as Kombucha (stock image)


Between the follicular and luteal phase is ovulation, which lasts from about day 12-14. During this time you may experience some cravings so it’s important to eat enough of the type of food that fills you up, especially those foods that are rich in fibre and high in nutrients. 

These include fruits (berries, apples, pears, bananas), vegetables (broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, artichoke, kale, sweet potatoes), legumes (beans, lentils, peas), whole grains (quinoa, oats, whole wheat pasta, barley) and nuts/seeds (almonds, pistachios, sesame/pumpkin/sunflower seeds). 

This is also a good time to ensure you are including healthy fats, including avocados, chia or flax seeds, walnuts, etc.

Eat at regular times to maintain stable blood sugar levels and always keep a nutritious snack with you so you can quickly fill up some energy. 

Some snack ideas include avocado and spinach toast, hummus and cucumber or carrots, frozen banana and peanut butter, and edamame. Make sure to stay hydrated during the day by always having a water bottle with you and using apps like Lifesum to track your water intake.

‘Remember, everyone’s body works differently, and our needs vary,’ adds Dr Pulde. ‘Focusing on a balanced, varied nutrient-dense diet that provides enough energy is key – not only for performance, but for our overall well-being.’

Between the follicular and luteal phase is ovulation, when the doctor recommends healthy fats such as avocado and eat at regular times to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Stock image


This is the last two weeks (day 14-28) of the cycle. During this phase, both oestrogen and progesterone are raised. This is when pain feels a bit more intense as large amounts of prostaglandins, a chemical that stimulates contractions, is released. 

To help lower levels, and therefore reduce cramps, focus on anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3 (walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds), antioxidants like vitamin C (found in fruit – particularly berries – and vegetables) and vitamin E (found in leafy greens, avocado, and whole grains).

‘In this phase, it’s common to feel tired,’ says Dr Pulde. ‘Ensure you eat complex carbs that provide fibre and vitamins to balance moods and curb cravings, including whole-grains, beans and starchy vegetables.

‘Try to avoid or cut back on caffeine and alcohol. And when energy levels drop, healthy snack options are ideal, including hummus and veggie sticks, apples and almond butter, and homemade fruit and nut bars.’ 

During the last two weeks of your cycle, the doctor advises eating plenty of foods with anti-inflammatory nutrients such as omega 3 to ease symptoms caused by raised estrogen and progesterone. Stock image


This is the phase of your cycle where oestrogen and progesterone levels are lowest; you shed your uterine lining, and bleeding occurs. 

It typically lasts between three to seven days and can involve cramping, fatigue, low back pain and mood swings. 

When period blood is lost, it’s important to up your iron-rich foods with animal products such as red meat, poultry and fish (heme iron) or plant-based products, including leafy greens, beetroot and legumes (non-heme iron).

During the menstrual phase the doctor advises eating iron-rich foods with animal products such as red meat, poultry and fish. Stock image

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