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.
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.
There are a few tricks I’ve found that can naturally help to alleviate painful period cramps:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Breakfast
- 50g (1/2 cup) whole rolled oats
- 350-375ml (1.5 cups) water, or mix of water and plant-based milk
- 1 tsp maca powder
- 1 tsp chia seed
- 1 tsp coconut sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup (optional)
- 1 tbsp coconut cream or oil (optional)
- Toppings such as banana, apple, hemp seeds, cinnamon, cocoa powder, nut or seed butter
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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,