Pauline Goossens is a Women's Hormone Cycle Expert and the Founder of OmCycle Academy. She understands a woman's body better than most and treats hormonal imbalance with energy, natural remedies, and the right foods at the right time. 

Here's what to cook, consume, embrace and avoid through the four stages of your next cycle. 

M&E: What are some common misconceptions around hormonal imbalance in women? 

PG: That they're normal! It breaks my heart when women have fallen victim to the thought that they have and forever will have painful periods, cramps, acne, bloating and constant fatigue... etc. These hormonal imbalances are common, but they are not normal. 
Your body is constantly trying to be in balance, and these symptoms of imbalance are just trying to notify you to look inside, and find more balance in your life :) Thank you beautiful body! 

M&E: What symptoms typically notify us that we are experiencing hormonal imbalance? 

PG: Any experience that causes discomfort or pain emotionally, physically, digestively, mentally or energetically. Of course, we have our ups and downs, but it's about keeping the energy moving. Stagnant emotions can cause physical abnormalities, and vice versa. Everything is connected. 

M&E: "Mood swings", bloating, tender breasts and so on are age old 'repercussions' of a woman's cycle, and often tolerated as an unavoidable side effect of a period, and treated with over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. This seems archaic! How do we tune into these imbalances more, and target them naturally and effectively? 

PG: PAIN = Pay Attention Inside Now. 

Pharmaceutical drugs are band-aids that just cover up symptoms (while adding more negative side effects). When you slow down to tune into your imbalances, look at where in your life you feel imbalanced. 

The top hormone that will cause imbalance is stress. 
How is your mental stress? Do you overthink? Or allow yourself to mentally rest? 
How is your emotional stress? Are you allowing yourself to feel and let go? 
How is your physical stress? Do you over-exercise or work out according to your cycle? 
How is your digestive stress? Are you eating packaged, processed foods and coffee? Or natural foods that are blood-sugar stabilising?
How is your environment? Are you surrounded by pesticides, plastics and pollution? 
How are your relationships? Do you feel supported at work, at home and with friends? 

M&E: What foods, supplements and other daily rituals are helpful in balancing such fluctuating hormones? 

PG: I always suggest trying to get as much nutrients as possible from your food, it's better digested and absorbed that way! If you can't get it from food, take a supplement. 
I recommend many women to take Zinc and Magnesium. Get in the sun everyday to get Vitamin D! If there is no sun, take Vit D3 Supplement. Women have 4 phases in their cycle each requiring unique nutrients, exercises, mental and physical activites. 

During menstruation, when your energy is lowest, really try to relax as much as possible! My favourite thing to do during my bleed is Yin Yoga, focusing on hip openers. This Phase is when you need the most iron, magnesium, and zinc from warm-cooked food. 

During your Follicular phase (which comes after your bleed for about 7-10 days), your energy will rise and you'll want to practice your socialising skills, try new things, and go on an adventure! This is when having some omega 3s are great with lightly sauteed vegetables. Since you'll feel less hungry as you approach Ovulation, this is the best time of your cycle to do a fast cleanse or detox if you're feeling one. This phase is best to work out and challenge yourself with some muscle-building. 

During Ovulation is when you're fertile and feeling your most abundant, confident, sexy and happiest self to attract a mate, so this is a great time to be seen and heard, and ask for what you want. Nutritionally, this is when you're last hungry and want to focus on detoxing excess estrogen with DIM-rich foods like broccoli, kale, cabbage and cauliflower (all cooked), as well as phytoestrogens like beans and seeds. 

Finally, come the two-week Luteal phase, where you'll feel more introverted because your hormones think you're pregnant, which is a great time to lean into your feminine through dance, creating art and tuning into your intuition. You'll really want to make sure you eat more during this phase as women need 200-300 more calories (do not detox, fast or cleanse)! Focus on blood-sugar stabilising foods and healthy fats for healthy hormones. 


M&E: And what should we avoid? 

PG: Unfortunately, hormone distruptors are everywhere :( 
To the best of your ability, avoid BPA plastics like touching receipts, packaged foods, clothes with plastics (like nylon and polyester). Also, avoid coffee and other stimulants. This is stress in a cup. Getting rid of caffeine is going to do wonders to your hormones and you'll notice it immediately. Well... after your 3 days caffeine withdrawl, but take it easy and you'll get through it. 

Finally, avoid synthetic/ toxic cleaning products. You are nature and your body thrives on natural. Castille soap is a great natural cleaner for your dishes and hands. Personally, for shampoo I use liquid soapnuts, with baking soda... and for my conditioner I use a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water. My hair is clean, healthy and shiny :) 

Oh and, cooking oils! Avoid canola, sunflower seed, vegetable, or other highly industrialised cooking oils, they're carcinogenic! Only cook with ghee, coconut oil or olive oil. Oils need to be cold pressed for them to be healthy, bonus if they're organic too. 



M&E : Brain fog is a common occurence with a woman's cycle - why is this, and how can we stay sharp? 

PG: Like treating all hormonal imbalances, live according to your cycle! Brain fog can also be from a lack of B vitamins and fats, so make sure to eat grass-fed organic meats, mushrooms, and nutritional yeast to get your B vitamins... and healthy fats from grass-fed organic meat, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee and avocado. 

M&E: Book you're currently reading?

PG: "Placenta: the Forgotten Chakra" by Robin Lim and "Taking Charge of your Fertility" by toni Weschler, MPH. 

M&E: Playlist you can't turn off?

PG: "Ry Cooder & Ali Farka Toure'" playlist. You're welcome :) 

M&E: Recipe on high rotation at your place? 

PG: We always have homemade pesto at home: 

In a blender: 
1 big handful of parsley 
1 big handful of coriander 
1 big handful of basil 
2 cups of activated almonds 
2 cups of cold-pressed olive oil 
4-5 lime (juice) 
A couple of pinches of sea salt 
Blend and enjoy with every meal :) 

M&E: A wise woman once said...

PG: "The ones who listen to their own bodies, know the cure to the pain of the soul. The woman that understands this language connects with their own inner feminine nature and with the outer nature, Gaia" -Kareemi 

The four phases of a woman’s cycle and how to respond naturally to hormonal imbalance.

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