Wednesday Q&A, week 1
Each month during my period I get pretty severe cramps in my lower abdomen and I'm always looking for holistic ways to alleviate them. I've tried just about everything, but do you have any foods/supplements/etc you would recommend?
First off, I just want to make sure that you've been to a medical doctor or naturopathic doctor and ruled out anything major (something that would need to be identified by blood work, ultrasound, etc.).
Now based on the fact that I don't know your personal health history, I'm just going to take a stab at some possibly-helpful things to try. To start, pain and inflammation in the body often go hand in hand, so an option would be to reduce (or better yet, eliminate) inflammatory foods in the diet: any animal products (if you normally eat them), white sugar (and glucose-fructose, corn syrup, etc), junky oils (like fried foods, conventional shortening, GM canola oil, corn oil, soy oil, etc), wheat and table salt. Enjoy tasty and anti-inflammatory foods like ginger (which is said to help with menstrual cramps and digestion), garlic, onions, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander and fennel. Magnesium relaxes smooth muscle, and is present in foods such as almonds, broccoli, dark chocolate and sesame seeds (a longer list is on page 49 of Get It Ripe), and you might check out a supplement like this one, which is pretty popular and sugar-free.
Never underestimate the power of a hot water bottle - if you're using just-boiled water (which'll keep it warm all night if you have it under the covers with you) just be sure to wrap it in a cozy or towel (my housemate got this crazy blistery burn one time from holding the rubber against her skin). The world may ask you to plug on as if it's just another day/week at this time of the month, but you tell whoever even looks like they're considering giving you heck that I said to take it easy, don't go full force. Have an afternoon nap if you need it, take a few extra "bathroom breaks" during a day at work and use the time to just have a little breather (not necessarily in the bathroom!).
You might look into uterine massage.
In the long term, consider some deliberate cleansing and detoxification (chapter 21 of Get It Ripe). Finally you might look at addressing/resolving any issues you have around reproduction, relationships, sexuality or even finances - as cramps is a second chakra issue (for more on this read Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss.
I am not vegan, but love vegan recipes. (I eat meat at the most 3 times a week.) I went to a nutritionist for a while and she said vegan desserts were not a good idea for me because eggs are what make those treats more nutritious (that is to say that I feel more full after eating)... What can I do?
Sophie, what comes to mind right away for me is the question "Do people eat desserts to feel full?" I'm not sure they do. It's really best to hit the point of feeling 80% full by the time you finish your main meal, that should include whole grains and/or legumes, and of course be vegetable-packed (at least 1/2 the plate).
I wonder if you might try enjoying desserts, vegan or not, more mindfully. Mindful eating involves doing your best to stay present for every bite of food - enjoying it visually, taking in the smells before you even put it in your mouth, then as you take a bite and chew, paying attention to the tastes and textures - and tuning into your body's signals, putting down your fork or spoon between bites, perhaps gaining the awareness that your done/full before you might have thought, instead of going on auto-pilot and finishing what's on your plate before you even realize, or reaching for a second helping before you've even swallowed the last mouthful of your first serving.
You won't be searching for desserts to fill up a bit space so long as they follow a meal with protein. However, you might also integrate a protein powder (pumpkin seed powder might be less noticeable than hemp) into baked goods - subbing out 2 tbsp - 1/4 cup flour and putting in the same amount of protein. Raw foods desserts would also be a good consideration, for both their nutritional value, their digestive enzymes and the fact that they're often so rich that it's hard for most people to go overboard. Hope that helps. Bonne chance, Sophie!