The Holistic Sister’s Nutrition Tips For Easing Period Pain

The Holistic Sister's Eliza Hedley talks to Scarlet Period about period self-care

Sick of suffering from constant bloating and PMS, Eliza Hedley turned her interest into the cause-and-effect of what we eat on our health into a career in Nutrition. We asked The Holistic Sister to share her expertise on period health, hormones, and how the right nutrition can help improve your menstrual cycle.


Name: Eliza Hedley
Day job: Nutritionist
Location: Perth / Melbourne


Your work in one sentence…

I teach people that food is medicine, and what we eat is information.


What does health mean to you?

Health to me is the foundational pillar of a happy and enjoyable life. Our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and environmental health determines the choices we make, our beliefs and how we move in this world.


What are the most common challenges you see?

Nutritional challenges would be focusing on calories but ignoring where they come from. This can lead to chronic digestive, metabolic, hormonal and skin issues.


How does nutrition impact overall health?

What we eat is broken down and makes up our cells, influences how our genes are expressed, what pathways are activated - it’s the literal building blocks of our bodies and brains, and eating food is what we do for our entire lives – so it impacts every facet - from our self esteem to our fertility – which is what the menstrual cycle revolves around.

Scarlet Period Blog | Nutritionist Eliza Hedley discusses food for period health & self-care

So nutrition can impact hormones and menstrual health?

In the most simple straightforward way, a pro-inflammatory diet, one that lacks whole foods and nutrients, will see disturbances in ovarian function, hormone release, menstrual cycles, fertility. We often see PCOS and endometriosis being heavily linked into a pro-inflammatory diet and lifestyle.

Irregular periods can be driven by a lack of progesterone, excess androgens and/or low estrogen – all of which require key amino acids, vitamins, minerals and fatty acids to be produced. Without these, irregular periods can appear.


What's your top tips for eating for better menstrual health?

It depends on what type of hormonal imbalance or goal of the individual. But in general, we want a cruciferous veg, leafy green, healthy fat, antioxidant, protein and fiber focused diet to improve hormone creation, metabolism and excretion.

Alissa Viti really pioneered the concept of eating for our infradian rhythm. There’s a few key things that can be beneficial, such as more fiber during the luteal phase and more iron, magnesium, omega 3 rich foods during the menstrual phase. 


What are some signs someone has a hormone imbalance?

Painful, heavy periods, PMS, PMDD, menstrual migraines, hot flushes, disturbed sleeps, low libido, absent or irregular periods, numerous miscarriages, difficulty losing weight, acne, hair loss, irritability


What triggers hormonal imbalances?

It’s typically always a stressor – whether internal (for example, insulin resistance, nutrient deficiencies, excess cortisol), or external (life, over-training, contraceptives) that has altered the brain-ovarian axis, with genetics playing a role as well.


What nutritional changes can help?

We should remove or reduce alcohol, gluten, refined sugars, and conventional dairy. We should also focus on eating whole foods that are seasonal and include all food groups. For example, we want a mix of protein, carbohydrates, fats, plants, and animal products.


How does nutrition affect reproductive health?

Our body needs to know and feel it’s safe to carry a pregnancy, and part of that is an abundance of nutrients and antioxidants to protect the DNA within our eggs.

Certain foods rich in specific nutrients, like eggs, salmon, sardines, and pomegranate, are a must for supporting fertility and reproductive health as we want the best, healthiest eggs possible.


What’s your best piece of self-care advice?

Listen to your body. It will tell you when something is wrong via a symptom.

For more with Eliza, head to The Holistic Sister website or follow her on Instagram.