The BEST Luteal Phase Foods, Recipes & Tips For Hormone Balance (2024)

Table of Contents
WHAT IS THE LUTEAL PHASE? WHAT HAPPENS DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE COMMON SYMPTOMS OF HORMONE IMBALANCE IN YOUR LUTEAL PHASE + PMS/PMDD + MENSTRUAL MIGRAINESOR HEADACHES +HEAVY MENSTRUAL FLOW + MISSING PERIODS + BLOATING + CONSTIPATION + SWOLLEN/TENDER BREASTS + SLEEP ISSUES/INSOMNIA +MOODINESS +LOW LIBIDO +LOW BBT IN THE LUTEAL PHASE + FEELING “FLU LIKE” BEFORE YOUR PERIOD (ACHES + PAINS) BENEFITS OF EATING FOR YOUR LUTEAL PHASE + Reduced PMS + Stable Energy & Mood + Reduced Bloating/Water Retention + Improved Digestion/Regularity + Less Painful Periods + Optimal Fertility/Lengthened Luteal Phase + Boosted Immune System + Cycle Regularity + Improved Sleep Quality + Less Breakouts/Hormonal Acne + Optimal Metabolism/Less Fat Storage BEST FOODS TO EAT DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE + Fiber-Rich Foods + B Vitamin Rich Foods + Complex Carbohydrates + Foods High in Calcium/Magnesium + Healthy Fats/Omega-3 Rich Foods + Anti-Inflammatory Herbs & Spices LUTEAL PHASE EATING + DIET TIPS + Consume More Calories + Opt for Cooked Foods + Don’t Skimp on Carbs + Eat Regularly & Often + Don’t Forget To Hydrate + Try Seed Cycling + Add in Herbal Support BEST LUTEAL PHASE RECIPES + MEAL IDEAS Best Luteal Phase Breakfast Recipes Best Luteal Phase Dinner + Lunch Recipes Best Luteal Phase Dessert + Snack Recipes EATING FOR EARLY LUTEAL PHASE VS. LATE LUTEAL PHASE FOODS TO AVOID DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE + Caffeine/Alcohol + Cold/Raw Foods + Refined Carbs + Conventional Dairy BOTTOMLINE MORE LUTEAL PHASE TIPS + Eating For Your Menstrual Cycle: A Chart + Guide + Progesterone Boosting Foods, Recipes + Tips + Seed Cycling Chart, Recipes + Tips Creamy Quinoa Porridge with Quick Berry Compote Ingredients Instructions Notes

Before I went back to school to study nutrition and hormone health, I was pretty much the poster child for luteal phase symptoms (major bloating, painful cramping, fatigue, intense cravings and mood swings so intense my husband (then boyfriend) tracked my cycle for six months to prove that all of our fights happened right before my period (little did I know he was actually onto something!)

Thankfully, now that I understand the ins and outs of my menstrual cycle I am happy to report a relatively symptom-free luteal phase (that I actually have come to enjoy)…maybe because I love the food so much 🙂

Either way, I want you to know that while many of these luteal phase symptoms are common, they are NOT normal, and it is totally possible for you to have a symptom-free luteal phase (and entire menstrual cycle) through simple nutrition and lifestyle modifications.

Starting today, with the most delicious luteal phase foods and recipes to help you naturally balance your hormones and feel your best. Snag all of the details below!


WHAT IS THE LUTEAL PHASE?

The luteal phase is one of the four phases of a menstrual cycle. It typically lasts 12-16 days and occurs immediately after ovulation, when reproductive hormones estrogen, testosterone and LH begin their decline and progesterone rises to stimulate the growth of the uterine lining in preparation for a potential pregnancy (if not pregnant it will shed in the next phase, menstruation).


WHAT HAPPENS DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE

Emotionally during the first half of the luteal phase, you’re still riding high off of the effects of the ovulatory phase. However, as progesterone production increases, you’ll find yourself starting to wind down and a strong desire to complete tasks and get things done (much like the transition from summer to fall).Your brain is also hyperaware of details, causing you to notice things you may have overlooked previously.

The rise in progesterone also stimulates your appetite and increases your body temperature and metabolic rate, requiring you to eat an additional 200-300 calories per day (and potentially inducing all of those cravings!)

Additionally, your immune system downshifts and stress response heightens during this time, as nature’s way of helping you protect a fertilized egg in the event you’re pregnant. This means you’re more susceptible to colds and sensitive to stressful situations, making it a crucial time to slow down, focus on self-care and incorporate plenty of nutrients/immunity boosting foods.


COMMON SYMPTOMS OF HORMONE IMBALANCE IN YOUR LUTEAL PHASE

When hormones are balanced, the luteal phase should be relatively symptom-free. Unfortunately, this often isn’t the case in our modern world, and those with hormonal imbalances or conditions tend to get hit the hardest in the luteal phase.

This is primarily due to the relationship between estrogen and progesterone, with an imbalanced ratio or low levels or progesterone contributing to luteal phase symptoms including:

  • + PMS/PMDD

  • + MENSTRUAL MIGRAINESOR HEADACHES

  • +HEAVY MENSTRUAL FLOW

  • + MISSING PERIODS

  • + BLOATING

  • + CONSTIPATION

  • + SWOLLEN/TENDER BREASTS

  • + SLEEP ISSUES/INSOMNIA

  • +MOODINESS

  • +LOW LIBIDO

  • +LOW BBT IN THE LUTEAL PHASE

  • + FEELING “FLU LIKE” BEFORE YOUR PERIOD (ACHES + PAINS)


BENEFITS OF EATING FOR YOUR LUTEAL PHASE

Luckily, one of the best ways we can combat hormonal imbalances and symptoms during the luteal phase is through food, especially by eating enough of certain nutrients to support progesterone production, stabilize blood sugar, improve digestion, boost our mood and curb carb cravings. When we do this, we naturally support healthy hormone levels, which can lead to benefits in the luteal phase including:

  • + Reduced PMS

  • + Stable Energy & Mood

  • + Reduced Bloating/Water Retention

  • + Improved Digestion/Regularity

  • + Less Painful Periods

  • + Optimal Fertility/Lengthened Luteal Phase

  • + Boosted Immune System

  • + Cycle Regularity

  • + Improved Sleep Quality

  • + Less Breakouts/Hormonal Acne

  • + Optimal Metabolism/Less Fat Storage


BEST FOODS TO EAT DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE

Due to the hormonal and biological fluctuations that take place during our luteal phase, it’s important to consume plenty of nutrients that support progesterone production, stable blood sugar, optimal digestion and healthy brain function. See below for specific nutrient requirements, as well as the foods rich in said nutrients. *You’ll notice many of these foods overlap in nutrient categories, with multiple benefits to consuming!*

+ Fiber-Rich Foods

During your luteal phase the increase in progesterone naturally slows digestion (hello bloat/constipation!). Thus it’s important to eat plenty of fiber-rich foods, which support large intestine functionality and increase transit time, leading to regular bowel movements. Some optimal fiber-rich foods include:

  • + Chickpeas

  • + Pears

  • + Apples

  • + Starchy/Root Vegetables

  • + Leafy Greens

  • + Gluten-Free Grains (quinoa, millet, oats, buckwheat, brown rice)

  • + Walnuts

+ B Vitamin Rich Foods

B vitamins (especially b6 and b9) support optimal progesterone production (crucial to reduce pms) and work to stabilize blood sugar levels, helping you avoid energy dips and cravings. Some optimal B vitamin rich foods for your luteal phase include:

  • + Gluten-Free Oats

  • + Banana

  • + Wild Caught Salmon

  • + Poultry

  • + Tuna

  • + Liver & Organ Meats

  • + Citrus

  • + Potatoes

  • + Ricotta/Cottage Cheese

+ Complex Carbohydrates

Consuming adequate complex (aka slow burning) carbohydrates helps to regulate serotonin and dopamine levels in order to prevent mood swings as well as provides your cells with energy and helps to curbs cravings. Optimal complex carbs include:

  • + Brown rice

  • + Quinoa

  • + Millet

  • + Buckwheat

  • + Oats

  • + Sweet Potato/Potato

  • + Pumpkin

  • + Squash

  • + Carrot

+ Foods High in Calcium/Magnesium

Foods high in calcium and magnesium work to reduce fluid retention and bloat, as well as muscle pain and spasms (oh hi cramps!) Optimal luteal phase foods include:

  • + Leafy Greens (such as collards, mustard greens, watercress, spinach)

  • + Banana

  • + Nuts and Seeds (sesame, sunflower, peanut, walnut, pine nut)

  • + Legumes (chickpeas, navy beans, canellini)

  • + GF Whole Grains (millet, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, oats)

  • + Dark Chocolate

+ Healthy Fats/Omega-3 Rich Foods

Omega-3’s are a type of unsaturated fat that are considered highly anti-inflammatory and can help lower prostaglandins that can cause cramping/period pain. Additionally consuming enough healthy fats ensures your body has enough fuel to maintain energy through menstruation, a very energy-intensive phase. Optimal luteal phase foods include:

  • + Wild-Caught Salmon

  • + White Fish (Cod, Halibut, Flounder)

  • + Pasture-Raised Eggs

  • + Spirulina

  • + Walnuts

  • + Hemp Seeds

  • + Chia Seeds

+ Anti-Inflammatory Herbs & Spices

Herbs and spices have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2000 years (and are now clinically proven) to help reduce cramping, nausea, bloating, fatigue, and headaches, as well as boost immunity and digestion and promote cycle regularity. Optimal herbs and spices to incorporate in your luteal phase include:

  • + Burdock Root

  • + Ginger

  • + Dandelion Root

  • + Red Raspberry Leaf

  • + Peppermint

  • + Garlic

**If you’re looking for a one-stop shop herbal formula to help you combat pms and have a healthy luteal phase, check out my favorite (I’ve been using it for 3 years!) clinically proven custom herbal blend. Don’t forget to use code SOFRESH20 to save.

LUTEAL PHASE EATING + DIET TIPS

+ Consume More Calories

During your luteal phase your body naturally burns 10-20% more calories, which comes with an increase in appetite. Restricting foods such as nutrient-rich carbohydrates/fast or not eating enough actually prevents your body from producing the hormones it needs to keep your metabolism burning effectively, leading to an increase in fat storage and destabilized blood sugar (aka more cravings/mood swings, etc.).

Try adding in an additional 100-300 calorie snack or boosting the calorie/nutrient density of meals with chopped nuts/seeds, a drizzle of olive oil or grass-fed ghee, a scoop of quinoa or avocado slices, etc.

+ Opt for Cooked Foods

The rise in progesterone during your luteal phase naturally slows digestion, often leading to uncomfortable symptoms like constipation or bloat. Cooking your foods well (i.e. roasting, baking, etc.) increases the bioavailability of micronutrients and makes them easier to absorb, working to support large intestine functionality and increase transit time, leading to regular bowel movements.

+ Don’t Skimp on Carbs

Slow burning complex carbs help to stabilize blood sugar levels and boost your feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a natural appetite suppressant and mood stabilizer. Opt for the fiber and nutrient-rich options listed above.

+ Eat Regularly & Often

Because blood sugar is less stable and resting cortisol levels are higher during your luteal phase, skipping meals or eating irregularly signals to your adrenals to pump out cortisol to compensate for fluctuating blood sugar levels (aka more circulating stress hormones = more mood swings, cravings, sleep issues, fat storage, etc.) Instead try to eat a meal or snack every 3-4 hours that includes a high quality protein option (poultry, eggs, red meat, seafood, ricotta or cottage cheese), fat (avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds) and fiber (all fruits and veggies, gluten-free grains and legumes, etc.)

+ Don’t Forget To Hydrate

Water retention increases during your luteal phase, which can cause bloating and puffiness, so make sure you’re drinking enough water (minimum half of your body weight in ounces) and consuming hydrating fruits and vegetables such as celery, cucumber, leafy greens, apples and pears.

+ Try Seed Cycling

The practice of rotating four different seeds (pumpkin, flax, sesame and sunflower) between the first and second half of our cycle phases alleges toregulate our hormones, therebyhelping to relieve PMS, reduce period pain,stimulate ovulation,increase fertilityand support the body in healing conditions such asPCOSandendometriosis. You can learn more about seed cycling in this post.

+ Add in Herbal Support

Incorporating traditional Chinese herbs into my cycle syncing protocol has been a GAME CHANGER in supporting my hormones and reducing uncomfortable symptoms. I love the simplicity of adding in healing herbal teas such as red raspberry leaf or ginger, as well as taking this custom herbal formula daily during my luteal phase (either in adrenal co*cktails, hot cocoa or straight from the bottle). *Use code SOFRESH20 to save 20% off your order.


BEST LUTEAL PHASE RECIPES + MEAL IDEAS

Best Luteal Phase Breakfast Recipes

+ Sweet Potato Pesto Bowl

+ Gut-Healthy Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

+ Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

+ Peanut Butter + Banana Baked Oatmeal

+ Gut-Friendly Pumpkin Spice Blender Pancakes

+ Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal + DF Cream Cheese Glaze

+ Maple Banana Walnut Baked Oatmeal

+ Cinnamon Roll Baked Oatmeal

+ Apple Cinnamon Crunch Toast

+ Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

+ Seed Cycling Maple Cinnamon Granola

+ Creamy Quinoa Porridge + Quick Berry Compote (see recipe below)

+ All Breakfast Recipes From Phase #4 of My Hormone Balance Reset Plan

Best Luteal Phase Dinner + Lunch Recipes

+ Teriyaki Glazed Salmon

+ Healthy White Chicken Chili

+ Gut-Healthy Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

+ Chicken Pesto + Goat Cheese Sweet Potato Pizza

+ Vegan Butternut Squash Mac n Cheese

+ Salmon Pesto Pasta

+ Instant Pot BBQ Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

+ Pumpkin + Forbidden Rice Salad w/ Maple Tahini Dressing

+ Thai Peanut Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

+ Sheet Pan Chicken Nuggets + Sweet Potato Fries

+ Immunity Boosting Chicken Chickpea Noodle Soup

+ Gut-Friendly African Peanut + Sweet Potato Stew

+ Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

+ Slow Cooker Chicken Taco Soup

+ Healthy Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos

+

+ Fajita Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

+ Stuffed Acorn Squash Bowls

+ Spiced Chickpea, Sweet Potato + Coconut Curry

+ Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

+ Crispy Smashed Potatoes + Basil Aioli

+ Crispy Sweet Potato Fries + Vegan Queso Dip

+ Sweet Potato + Turkey Chili

+ Thai Butternut Squash Curry + Toasted Coconut Cashews

+ Maple Roasted Delicata Squash Boats

+ Winter Pesto Pizza w/ Butternut Squash

+ Creamy Cauliflower Bisque

+ Creamy Turmeric + Coconut Sweet Potato Soup

+ All Dinner + Lunch Recipes From Phase #4 of my Hormone Balance Reset Plan

Best Luteal Phase Dessert + Snack Recipes

+ Healthy Homemade Period Gummies

+ Flourless Chocolate Peanut Butter PMS Brownies

+ Gut-Healthy Bone Broth Hot Chocolate

+ Seed Cycling Dark Chocolate Truffles

+ Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Fudge

+ Gluten-Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

+ Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

+ Monster Cookie Dough Balls

+ Easy Pumpkin Hummus

+ Pumpkin Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

+ Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

+ Carrot Cake Bliss Balls

+ Healthy Turmeric Deviled Eggs

+ Dark Chocolate Chunk Nut Butter Balls

+ All dessert recipes from Phase #4 of the Hormone Balance Reset Plan


EATING FOR EARLY LUTEAL PHASE VS. LATE LUTEAL PHASE

While there are four distinct phases during a menstrual cycle, it’s important to note that most of the hormonal shifts are gradual (i.e. you will most likely begin to feel the effects slowly over a period of several days). The slowest shift often occurs in your luteal phase, as it is the longest. During the first few days (up to a week) most women are still riding high off the ovulatory phase, thanks to elevated levels of estrogen and testosterone, making this an optimal time to incorporate more cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts) and high fiber foods (raw carrot, leafy greens, beets) that help your liver and large intestine flush out estrogen more effectively.

During the second half of the luteal phase (i.e. typically around day 5 or 6) your estrogen levels dip and progesterone is steadily rising, making this an ideal time to boost your intake of warm foods (baked/roasted) and plenty of those complex carbohydrates (roasted root veggies, gluten-free grains, etc.) that work to stabilize serotonin and dopamine levels and support optimal digestion.

Botttomline, don’t overcomplicate it! Try to tune into your body and what you’re naturally craving and trust that even small shifts (like eating more warm foods or switching up your veggies) can make a solid impact overtime.


FOODS TO AVOID DURING YOUR LUTEAL PHASE

While I like to focus on adding in vs. taking away, limiting your intake of certain foods can work to support to hormones and therefore reduce uncomfortable symptoms. These are the top foods to limit/avoid during your luteal phase if possible.

+ Caffeine/Alcohol

Over consuming caffeine and alcohol impacts your hormones in a myriad of ways (burdening our liver, altering our gut microbiome, depleting micronutrients, destabilizing blood sugar), most often leading to imbalances such as estrogen dominance or adrenal dysfunction. If you can’t imagine giving either up (zero judgement here!) try to minimize/reduce your intake or experiment with swaps (half-caff, decaf, mocktails, etc.)

+ Cold/Raw Foods

As mentioned above, progesterone slows digestion, which can lead to bloating, constipation, etc. Cold or raw foods take more energy expenditure to break down, leading to slower transit time and a decrease in bioavailability of nutrients, so try to limit these when possible or make swaps (i.e. smoothies for oatmeal, salads for soup, etc.)

+ Refined Carbs

While it’s crucial to up your intake of complex carbohydrates during your luteal phase, it’s just as important to limit refined carbohydrates (i.e. most processed baked goods, white pasta, crackers, breads, pastries, cereal, etc.) which often contain inflammatory oils and can spike and crash blood sugar, leading to more cravings, mood swings, etc.

+ Conventional Dairy

While consuming small amounts of high quality, high protein dairy (such as ricotta or cottage cheese) during this phase may support hormonal health, it’s important to steer clear of conventional dairy (i.e. store-bought milks, cheeses, yogurts, etc. that contain added antibiotics and growth hormones that mess with yours). Look for brands where the animals grass-fed, organic and hormone and antibiotic free when possible, or limit dairy altogether as it can be difficult for many to digest, especially during your luteal phase.


BOTTOMLINE

One of the most effective ways we can support our hormones (thereby reducing uncomfortable symptoms) is through consuming a wide variety of nutrient-dense foods based on where we’re at in our menstrual cycle. I always encourage clients to start small, focusing on 1-2 shifts (i.e. eating more warm foods during your luteal phase, or switching a side salad for a side baked sweet potato, etc.) to avoid feeling overwhelmed and continue adding in more from there. When in doubt, tune into your body and what feels good, and I think you’ll find you naturally crave foods ideal for each phase.


MORE LUTEAL PHASE TIPS

+ Eating For Your Menstrual Cycle: A Chart + Guide

+ Progesterone Boosting Foods, Recipes + Tips

+ Seed Cycling Chart, Recipes + Tips

This post contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links. Thank you for your support!

Creamy Quinoa Porridge with Quick Berry Compote

DF

GF

VG

This creamy quinoa porridge with quick berry compote contains plenty of fiber, protein and micronutrients (b vitamins, zinc, magnesium) that work to support hormone balance in your luteal phase.

PREP TIME:

TOTAL TIME:

05 Mins

00:25 Mins

  • Author: Lauren Chambers

  • Servings: 2-4

  • Recipe Type: breakfast, snack

  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

For the Quinoa Porridge:

For the Quick Berry Compote:

For The Optional Toppings:

Instructions

  1. First, start your quinoa porridge by cooking 1 cup quinoa according to package instructions (most advise a 2:1 ratio of liquid to quinoa for about 15 minutes of cooking, letting steam with pot covered for 5 additional minutes before fluffing). For this recipe you’ll want to use full-fat coconut milk and add in the cinnamon, vanilla, sea salt and optimal maple syrup, bring quinoa to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for whatever cooking time the package advises.
  2. While quinoa is simmering, add all quick berry compote ingredients together EXCEPT for Elix’s Cycle Balance Blend to a small stovetop bot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 5-10 minutes, stirring until berries turn soft and almost like a jam-consistency. Remove from heat, stir in Elix Cycle Blend if using and set aside until porridge is done cooking.
  3. Once both have finished cooking and cooled slightly, dish about 1/2 cup – 1 cup cooked quinoa (I personally eyeball) into a bowl and top with quick berry compote and desired toppings of choice. I also like to stir in a bit more coconut or non-dairy milk to make it super creamy.

Notes

*You can prep the quinoa and compote several days in advance and store in glass, airtight containers in the fridge if you prefer. It makes great leftovers heated up as well!

**You can also try swapping the quinoa for millet if preferred, another micronutrient-rich gluten-free grain that’s great for your luteal phase.

***The berries can also be swapped for finely chopped apples or pears, try adding cinnamon for an extra flavor boost.

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