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Day by day the power of your cycle, from what to eat when – to asking for a pay rise

PERIODS can be tough going, and throughout your cycle you might experience a range of symptoms.

Sadly, when Aunt Flo strikes, we can’t just down tools.

Taking control of your menstrual cycle could help you bag a promotion – experts have said

But experts have revealed that certain parts of your cycle could actually be beneficial.

Most people get their period every 28 days, but everyone is different.

The first day of bleeding is considered to be day one of your cycle and this could last from between three to eight days, with five being the average.

Speaking to SE registered nutritionist Le’Nise Brothers said understanding your cravings around your cycle could be useful.


The author of ‘You Can Have a Better Period’ said: “We typically experience cravings right before and during our periods and these are a sign from your body that it needs something, perhaps more of a certain vitamin, mineral or macronutrient or even more sleep and less stress.”

Le’Nise said imbalanced blood sugar levels and high stress levels are why we can also crave sweets right before and during our period.

“Adding in foods with potassium like fresh cherries, potatoes, sunflower seeds, and eggs are a fantastic way to help balance blood sugar levels and reduce sweet cravings.’’


Le’Nise, who is working with Love Fresh Cherries as part of its ‘No Period, pants’ campaign added that if you find yourself craving chocolate then you could be missing certain nutrients.

“Magnesium, the calming mineral that helps improve our mood and balance our blood sugar levels.

“Fresh cherries, pumpkin seeds and dark leafy greens are great ways to get more magnesium into your meals, which is important throughout your whole menstrual cycle (day 1 of our period through to the day before our next period starts).’’

Experts say that this is the follicular phase as your ovaries prepare to release eggs.

While during this time you could have a positive mood and feel stronger, Japanese researchers said on this day, you should set an early alarm.

Gabrielle Lichterman, author of 28 Days: What Your Cycle Reveals About Your Moods, Health & Potential said at this point, your hormones make you perceive time as passing slower – making you think you have more time that you actually do.


This is when you are likely to bleed heaviest and because of this you should eat seafood – which is rich in omega-3 and can help relieve pain caused by bleeding.


In the first half of your cycle, your brain is struggling, so it’s probably not a great day to ask for directions.

This, experts say, could be down to the impact low oestrogen has on the brain.


Gabrielle said that this is a bad time for your bank account and added that as your oestrogen rises your brain triggers happiness when you buy something.

“You’re also more focused on making yourself look and feel good, so impulse purchases of non-necessities that elevate your status are likely,” she told the Mail.


Your menstrual phase lasts from day one to seven, so by day five you will be coming towards the end.

Dr Sumi Soori, who has recently teamed up with Simba said it’s during this time you should try and change your sleep position.

“You are likely to reduce the flow of blood by sleeping on one side
rather than your back.

“Sleeping on your side with a pillow between your thighs can alleviate
some of the cramping, or if you have backache, sleep on your back with a pillow tucked under your knees.”

She said you should sleep with the window open or switch to a light duvet to keep you cool.

Dr Sumi recommends Simba’s new Hybrid® 3-in-1 duvet, which has a flexible four-season design. It also contains Stratos®, a sophisticated phase change technology that acts like a thermostat.

Day 7-12

During the mid phase of your cycle – you might need more protein.

Dr Shree Datta, INTIMINA‘s in-house healthcare advisor said: “When it comes to our diet, some studies have found that total protein intake increases in the second half of the cycle, along with an increase in appetite and cravings for sweet or salty flavour.

“This is thought to be partly due to the hormones we release in the second half of our menstrual cycle.

“It’s worth remembering that sustained periods of dieting may affect hormone release and can therefore affect your period duration and frequency – as can several other factors, such as stress and a hectic lifestyle.”

DAY 12

Le’Nise said that this phase is known as the ovulatory phase and is referred to as your ‘inner summer’.

In her book she said this is likely when we will feel our best self – so you will feel more confident.

This could be a great time to ask for a pay rise or to try something new in the bed room.

She said: “The peak in progesterone and the second, smaller peak of oestrogen, along with the continuation of good levels of serotonin, dopamine and other brain neurotransmitters, contribute to a sense of being able to handle anything life throws our way.

“We’re completely on point. We look great and our communication and creative skills are at the peak and libido is sky rocketing’.”

DAY 14

This is part of the ovulation phase, which usually starts on day 14.

Dr Sumi said this could be a great time to book your appraisal in at work.

“Ovulation is a great time to receive constructive feedback as you will be more inclined to listen and take thoughts on board. “

Dr Sumi also advised that this is a perfect time to reconnect with a partner.

During this time, she recommended a lighter duvet or pyjamas as your body temperature rises.

DAY 15

It’s at this point your ovulation stage is ending and you’re coming into the luteal phase.

Dr Sumi said it’s now you will notice a fluctuation in mood.

“Progesterone is naturally calming and relaxing and a soothing hormone. When our progesterone is low we can feel quite irritable and anxious,” explains Dr Sumi.

“With fluctuating hormone levels, you may experience night sweats or find that your sleep is fragmented or broken.” 

“You may feel that it is harder to get to and stay asleep – or have restless days leading up to your period.”

Day 20-23

The mid-luteal stage is when women may feel the most tired, this is because progesterone levels in the body are at their highest.

Progesterone leaves the body feeling tired, meaning you are quicker to exhaust and likely to overheat.

Gynaecologist Dr Nithya Ratnavelu, working with supplement brand fourfive said during this time you should avoid high intensity workouts.

Instead, stick to moderate intensity such as aerobic exercises including swimming and dancing, or gentle strength training exercises like pilates. 

Day 24-28

This is known as the premenstrual stage and brings an increased metabolism that leads to craving carbs.

Dr Ratnevanu said that during this time you should make sure your food match up to the amount you are, or aren’t exercising.

Dr Ratnevanu explained: “Particularly in the premenstrual phase you do need to match your calorie and carb intake with what you’re doing, otherwise you’re going to feel really depleted and it will really take it out of you.”

Dr Shree added that in the days leading up to your next period you might suffer with pain.

“Knowing the impact your menstrual cycle can have will help you consider what foods suit you best in the first and second half of the cycle, when to undertake strenuous exercise and how your moods may be affected depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle,” she added.

However Dr Shree said that menstrual cycles are individual and that it can be hard to pin point what might happen on a specific day.

“Remember, no one factor alone influences your menstrual cycle or indeed your mood, appetite or exercise performance, which is why it’s so important to track your sleep, diet and fitness throughout your cycle.

“Also note any key stress factors – such as a deadline at work, exams, moving house etc. as these can also impact your periods, diet, sleep and exercise performance.

“Tracking your cycle can allow you to recognise specific patterns at specific times of your cycle which are individual to you.”

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