“Ladies’ Porridge”: Vanilla Maca Oats To Balance Your Hormones

Vanilla Maca Oat Porridge Hormone Balancing #Vegan Breakfast 2
I’m going to talk about an uncomfortable subject today, though in my opinion it shouldn’t be uncomfortable at all. I totally understand if you want to skip to the recipe part below, but if you’ve ever experience cripplingly painful cramps or hormone imbalance, read on.

Vanilla Maca Oat Porridge Hormone Balancing #Vegan Breakfast 2

So. Periods.

I’m really thankful to Emily from This Rawsome Vegan Life for being so vocal about her period pains and the foods she uses to combat the cramps. Before she started sharing her experience on Instagram, I had never seen anyone else do this. Though I received a thorough sexual education at the liberal school I attended in Belgium, periods were still something you just didn’t talk about in public. I remember when I got my first period (quite late in my teens; I was therefore overjoyed to know I wasn’t barren) I went straight to my girlfriends to talk about it–and they ‘ewwed’ and hushed me. They didn’t want to hear about it, even though it was something that happened to them every single month.

So ok, it’s not pretty. But why are we so ashamed of it? It happens every damn month and though it’s a messy occurence, it signifies that you’re healthy and able to bear children. Isn’t that good?? I find it isolating and infuriating to have to pretend like I’m not in pain for up to two weeks (I get really long, and really heavy periods) every 34 days or so.

I lost my period a few times in my life; the longest I went without it was ten months. It was terrifying. Now I have it back, I’m super thankful, even though I complain about it a lot because it’s horrifically painful. Like, lie down in bed and cry because the painkillers aren’t working kind of painful. It seems to get worse over the winter and better with the warm weather, but I’ve learned by now what helps me to cope with the cramps.

Enter this Vanilla Maca Oat Porridge. It seems a simple concept but adding this superfood – a Peruvian root, ground to a powder – kicks it up to a whole new level. The flavour is quite delicate, and the superfood properties of maca powder have been shown in lots of studies to aid in reducing cramps and balancing hormones. Ideal to make your time of the month a little bit easier.

Vanilla Maca Oat Porridge Hormone Balancing #Vegan Breakfast

There are a few tricks I’ve found that can naturally help to alleviate painful period cramps:

  1. Maca powder. There are numerous studies showing the beneficial effects of this ancient Peruvian powder: it balances female hormones*, stimulates your fertility*, boosts your energy* and tastes really offing good.
  2. Don’t be (too much of) a hippy about it. I don’t like the idea of taking loads of painkillers to cure every little headache or hangover, but my periods can be so violently painful that I have no choice but take a few Feminax every so often. Plenty of you will probably disagree with me on this, but green juice can only take you so far. Take a few painkillers if it gets really bad, and if it gets really really really bad, take the day off and stay in bed. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
  3. Try to eat as many greens as possible. If you’re like me, the last thing you want when you’re on your period is a salad. I would eat chocolate and peanut butter on toast exclusively if it were sensible, but you need iron to replenish your depleted stores. If it’s easier to drink ’em, have a green juice or green smoothie.
  4. Avoid coffee and alcohol. I can forgo the coffee but resisting a glass of wine or a dram of whiskey can be hard; but if I’m having a hellish period, I know it’s more sensible for me. I just drink a maca latte instead.
  5. Forget dieting. Eat the damn chocolate (for iron and good feelies) and save none for anyone else.
(I also read/heard somewhere that abdominal exercises exacerbate period pains but I an’t find any information on this online. Anybody know more about this??)

So, ladies, if around ‘that time of the month’ you feel as though your uterus is self-destructing, you may want to consider adding maca powder to your diet. I personally also enjoy it in smoothies and lattes, and when I buy a pack it lasts around 3 months, so the price isn’t too steep over time.

And don’t pretend like it’s not happening to you. I’m not saying you should send round an hourly email to your coworkers with status updates of your ‘uterine shedding’, but it’s ok to talk about it to your closest friends, your flatmate, your boyfriend, your mother. Talking to my friends about my period and my struggles with hormone balancing felt liberating, and we were able to learn a lot from each other about how our bodies work.

This is where I loudly start to sing ‘Sister Suffragette‘ because FEMALE LIBERATION and leave you to drool over this dreamy porridge.

Vanilla Maca Oat Porridge Hormone Balancing #Vegan Breakfast 4

Vanilla Maca Oat Porridge - Hormone Balancing Breakfast

  • Servings: makes 1 large portion
  • Print

Ingredients
  1. 50g (1/2 cup) whole rolled oats
  2. 350-375ml (1.5 cups) water, or mix of water and plant-based milk
  3. 1 tsp maca powder
  4. 1 tsp chia seed
  5. 1 tsp coconut sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup (optional)
  6. 1 tbsp coconut cream or oil (optional)
  7. Toppings such as banana, apple, hemp seeds, cinnamon, cocoa powder, nut or seed butter
Instructions
  1. Add the oats, maca powder and chia seeds to a small saucepan. Pour in two thirds of the water, saving the rest for later, and place the saucepan over moderate heat.
  2. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. The porridge will quickly thicken up; if it thickens too much, too quickly, you can add the rest of the water a little at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency, which is somewhere between liquid sludge and thick paste. (Tasty, I know.) If you want a seriously creamy porridge, add a tablespoon of coconut cream or oil.
  3. Pour the porridge into a bowl. Top with anything you wish: I like sliced banana, peanut or almond butter, cinnamon and/or coconut sugar. Enjoy straight away!
Notes
This makes a hefty portion of porridge. If you’re not that hungry you can reduce the oats to 30g (1/3 cup) and the water to 250ml (1 cup).

LADIES, I want to hear from you. What are  your experiences in dealing with painful cramps? Do you have any tips to ease the pain? Let’s open up the discussion in the comments below!

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Love and cookies,

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22 thoughts on ““Ladies’ Porridge”: Vanilla Maca Oats To Balance Your Hormones

  1. Well I am glad I find some food for my periods cramps. I get really bad if I don’t take anything, but I am very anti medicine because I do really see the effects it causes on my period (but I will not say it on the Internet this time), so yes, I am very hippy about it, but not ashamed hahaha. Anyway it’s a nice change to find food to ease the pain I normally take tees (mint and peppermint are very helpful here are other tee remedies http://shar.es/1gIO6b ) Now I have a question about the maca powder, is it hard to find? Where can I look for it?

    About the abdominal exercises you mentioned they are called “Kegel exercises” they are normally recommend to pregnant women but have multiple uses and proven to help with cramps. It’s basically learning to exercise your vagina haha. Just Google it there’s a lot of information about it.

    Thank you for the recipe I will be delighted to try it. Maybe you could post one of some shakes to make with maca powder too?

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    • Hi Sofia! If you click the first link in this post it should lead you to a website called Goodness Direct, where I purchase most of my vegan and specialty items, and they stock maca powder. For cheaper options, there’s always Amazon or eBay. Naturya is a really good brand (available in Holland and Barrett, and online), though sometimes I just buy whichever one is cheaper. I’m trying very hard not to take painkillers but sometimes it just gets too much, even with all my herbal teas (I use a ‘feminine’ tea from Pukka) and maca smoothies. Earlier today I broke down in tears in the middle of the street when a stupendously painful cramp struck 😦 I don’t have a high tolerance for pain, as you can tell!

      I will post some smoothie recipes with maca, then, if that’s of interest to anyone here! There is a really old recipe for raspberry maca smoothie on my blog (click here) which is delicious!

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  2. Great post. I don’t think there’s any need to be quiet about this topic.

    I didn’t know that about maca. I have a teaspoon of it every day in my breakfast millet and other things bowl.

    The most important thing is to go to your gynaecologist once a year and get properly checked out. There’s probably a good reason you have pain as you do (endometriosis?). xx

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    • I go the doctor and gynaecologist regularly 🙂 It’s one thing I’m not shy about, whereas I know plenty of women who feel really embarrassed to. Thankfully it’s not endometriosis – I have long, heavy, painful periods because I have the copper coil as birth control. Hormone-based birth control just wasn’t working for me – it’s what messed up my hormones in the first place, and led me to see a slew of doctors who couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me until I saw a holistic doctor and was diagnosed with hormone imbalance. They warned me the copper coil would make my periods heavier and more painful, but I thought since I hardly ever cramps that it couldn’t be that bad… wrong! The first period I felt like I was dying. I was bedridden for days. I’ve learned to cope with it now, but it’s still pretty freaking painful!

      I guess I could have explained that all in more detail in this post but I thought people might feel this was rather TMI!

      I’m sitting at home with a hot water bottle and a packet of chocolate buttons now. All’s good 🙂

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      • wow! Good on you for being so frank. Admirable quality. Glad to hear you do go to the gyn regularly. But UGH!! You poor thing. I’m at the beginning of the end of these issues – pre-menopause – and that brings all sorts of interesting new situations. It’s all so weird.

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      • Thanks 🙂 I don’t know how I gave the impression that I go to the gym regularly because I really don’t 😛
        In the research I read maca was also mentioned as something that can help regulate the more unpleasant side-effects of the menopause, so maybe that might help you?

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      • I like maca. I use it daily in my breakfast concoction. And I like to put it in salads as well. I don’t know if it helps. It certainly doesn’t hurt and it tastes good. So, onward with maca. xox

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    • Hi June! It’s one of my favourite flavours 🙂 It doesn’t make the cramps go away completely but taking maca regularly sure helps me!

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  3. I couldn’t agree more! We should be able to take about what goes on with our bodies with feeling awkward about it. I’ve struggled with hormone imbalance and painful cramping since having children. I didn’t know maca helped with that. I’ve eaten it before here and there, but I will add it to my diet regularly now!

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    • Thanks! I think it’s time people (not just women!) broke the taboo, because there are women who could use this information and who need to feel more confident about their body. So thank you for your input, and I hope the maca helps!

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  4. I have really horrible cramps during my period too and I love adding maca to my smoothies! The one major thing that seems to really help is the hot water bottle! I pretty much have it on me the whole time I’m cramping. Also, I’ve found that exercise helps (even though you might not feel like it at the time, it really helps speed thing up!). I just started taking red raspberry leaf tea the past two months and last month my cramps weren’t nearly as bad! I’m not sure if it was a coincidence or what so I’m curious about what’s going to happen this month! and Yikes about your birth control method! The pill messed me up when I was younger since I was on it for so many years (not sure about the copper thing). If I needed birth control right now I would go with the Lady Comp or even condoms (or both lol).

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    • Thanks for sharing your story, Nicole! Yes, the hot water bottle seems to help me too, I should have added that to my list. The trouble is I haven’t got one small enough to take with me to work 😛 My mother has a teensy one she lended me last year; I could stuff it into my jeans, hidden under my jumper, and walk around with it like that! Haha, super practical 😛

      I’m so so so against going on any kind of hormone-based birth control ever again because of what it did to my body (at least for myself; I know they work perfectly well for other women). The copper coil has nasty side effects BUT it’s working really well so far. I just need to elevate my tolerance for pain :/

      I’m curious to see if the raspberry leaf tea helps you – let me know!

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  6. I have always eaten healthily (vegan) and exercised considerably indoors/outdoors… a variety of sports. Very minimal occasional alcohol and no smoking for sure and I hate drugs but…… Advil liquid gels, a hot water bottle and sleep have been the only combination that have worked for me. Too bad it took me YEARS to figure this out. I used to have extreme pain as a teenager. It lessened considerably as I aged.

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  7. I had very heavy, sometimes painful periods all my productive years. I absolutely know that a couple things really made a difference in comfort level to reduce symptoms (I remember feeling such a heavy feeling in my pubic area like an elephant sitting on me!) So uncomfortable. The two things that really made a reduction in pain was: regular exercise daily like fast walking or jogging or at least a couple of weeks before I thought my period would start. Secondly, cutting out most fatty foods and drinking tons of water at least 2 weeks before. These tips really helped. When I went through menopause I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. I through those pads out for good and it was so wonderful! A few hot flashes were NOTHING compared to the monthly “curse” as my grandma called it…hah!

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    • I made a point of exercising today when I came home from work, I’ll try and keep it up while I’m on my period 🙂 Trying hard to keep hydrated as well as I see lots of people suggest this. I wonder about the fatty foods you mention – does that include natural ingredients, like avocado and coconut oil? I was advised to eat more natural, healthy fats to support my hormone balance.

      Thanks for your tips, Louann! 🙂

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  9. I feel quite lucky that my periods don’t get in the way of my life quality too badly, but it REALLY sucks having to be at work with that kind of discomfort.

    My favourite trick has seen me through many a painful cycle and it’s crazy simple: lie down with a pillow under your knees. In my late teens I read that if you keep your feet elevated/above your uterus level, the pain will naturally lessen. And HOT DAMN ain’t that the truth. My period usually starts very early in the morning or even in the night, which means the pain has already set in, so what I do is make a hot water bottle, take ibuprofen if it feels necessary, then go back to bed and lie on my back with a pillow under my knees and the hot water bottle on my belly. Fucking bliss 😉
    This is particularly useful if you’re able to sit in front of the TV for the day! Obviously, this is less handy when you need to be at work, but it’s usually just on working days that I’ll knock back the painkillers and FEEL NO SHAME ABOUT IT. I rationalise that if I don’t take painkillers for every minor headache and pain then I have even more ground for taking advantage of their magic healing powers! 😉

    Hope the pillow/knee trick helps!

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    • That’s such a great trick! My period’s over now but I will be trying that next time for sure! And yeah, I’ve been knocking back the painkillers too when it gets too bad, because I can’t really walk around with a hot water bottle strapped to my abdomen while I’m at work, sadly. Thanks petal xoxo

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