What To Eat During The Luteal Phase

For those suffering from PMDD or severe PMS, the luteal phase can be fraught with cravings, and poor energy and due to giving in to your cravings may even destroy any process you have made on your weight loss journey in the previous two weeks.

In this guide we'll be looking at the mindful steps you can take to stay in control to not see your appetite grow out of control and the number on the scales suddenly spike. You may even find it helpful to skip the scales entirely and learn to trust yourself more (as during the luteal phase even drinking more water or green tea may lead to artificial weight gain as the scale tells it).

The Most Important Meal Of The Day

As someone who has previously struggled with binge eating which was heightened in its severity during the luteal phase, I have found that the easiest way to prevent overeating later in the day (as well as all-out binges) is to have breakfast in the morning.

As someone who isn’t a big fan of eating in the morning, I have a couple of tricks that have made this easier to do consistently.

The first of these would be taking the time to make my breakfast more interesting, my favourite food to prevent later binging would easily have to be oats. Pairing oats with dairy-free vanilla yoghurt and bananas is one of my favourite easy breakfast recipes that I can do most days without getting bored.

For lower energy days I tend to default to instant oats. Of the many brands of instant oats available The Great British Porridge Co do some very nice flavours which are all naturally flavoured and packed full of real ingredients. So far their coffee, chocolate and blueberry varieties have been a solid choice for making everyday breakfasts delicious.

For very low energy days I would have something like the diet meal replacement extreme protein smoothie from The Protein Works with quite a bit of homemade oat milk (made up to a thicker consistency than your average Oatly drink) which would keep me full to at least lunchtime.

Keeping in the theme of not letting yourself get too hungry, I believe that intermittent fasting during the luteal phase makes nighttime binges much more severe. I would say that keeping smoothies such as the one previously recommended available nearby and even having things like fruit smoothie pouches in your purse can help to take away sudden cravings before you let yourself get so ravenously hungry that you eat anything that isn't nailed down.

Finding Alternative Sources Of Energy

Number one on a list of foods/drinks that you should probably avoid during your luteal phase if you suffer from PMDD or severe PMS has to be coffee and high levels of caffeine in general.

As a massive coffee addict myself, while I couldn’t go the whole month without coffee, I do try to stick to excluding it from the days within my luteal phase. Doing this, I have noticed that I felt a lot less anxiety and irritation when I kept this new habit up for almost the full two week period.

As a more gentle alternative to boost my energy during my midday lulls, I drink tea during this time, including weak green tea as well as black tea with oat milk. Another drink that boosted my energy is turmeric tea, lemon and black pepper, which made me feel more energised when I drank this during the day. Word to the wise, turmeric tea can stain upholstery very easily so be careful if you are anything as clumsy as myself.

Not Myself At All

I am a big advocate of intuitive eating and listening to yourself but this normally sensible resolve is heavily tested during my luteal phase and it is easily the time of the month when my spending on takeaways takes a sudden upwards spike and I am nothing like my usual self.

The only habit I’ve been able to find to get myself out of being compelled by these expensive and unhealthy urges each month is to take my time cooking a meal that I care about and satisfies my cravings (all without draining my bank account).

Whilst creating homemade versions of a takeaway might not be that low calorie, the process of cooking, picking out my ingredients and considering what I want to eat helps me greatly in being mindful, all while saving my pennies. One of my favourite go-to meals at this time has to be this Thai fusion pasta which nails my cravings for carbs, garlic, heat and cheese, all in one sitting!

Eating Enough Before Bed

I’ve certainly noticed from experience that if I try to sneak a smaller than usual meal before bed (such as a salad lacking any pulses or a significant amount of protein), that I either pay for it the next morning by being very hungry for breakfast or at my very worst, waking up from sleep early in small hours of the morning disturbed by my raging levels of hunger.

During my luteal phase whilst craving fast food, making a conscious choice to have more whole foods including nuts, beans, bananas and avocados has helped my satiety levels significantly. Please don’t be afraid of gaining weight from eating more whole foods during this time of the month as if you restrict your body will keep the score and worsen cravings even more during the luteal phase.

Using the tips above whilst also having PCOS has helped me to lose at least 30lbs in the last year all without a significant level of weight cycling happening each month. During this period I have reduced my visceral body fat levels to be within the normal/healthy range and I have maintained all of my previous lean muscle mass.

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