Let's talk about period pain….
Here is the program that I followed and that I refer to in the episode: http://nicolejardim.ontraport.com/t?orid=168736&opid=32
Find Nicole Jardim's other programs here: http://nicolejardim.ontraport.com/t?orid=168736&opid=27
Nicole's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicolemjardim/?hl=en
The post that I refer to in my video: https://www.instagram.com/p/B87yCCXo7Ov/
Are you suffering from BURNOUT, lost your period, feel exhausted? Join my 5-day video course and learn how to take back your health: https://kerstenkimura.lpages.co/burnout-recovery-spectrum-later/
You got your period back, awesome! But then…
It started coming with massive pain every month…
That was me. I was, of course, happy that my period was back, but the pain that came with it was absolutely debilitating. Imagine lying in bed almost all day on day 1 of your cycle, taking the maximum allowed amount of painkillers, having the heating pad on your belly, and hoping this will be over soon.
My first recovery period after Hypothalamic Amenorrhea was pain free, but after that — since June 2017 — this is what they all looked like.
Unfortunately, I was very well familiar with this pain because I had experienced it already before. Before I ever got sick with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, the exact same thing happened every month. In high school, I ended up in ER a few times, because I was about to faint from pain. A few times, it was only the injectable pain killers that made me feel better.
And now, the pain was here again.
Dieting Mindset vs Doing What's Best For Your Health
Before I fully dive into what helped me to get over the pain, I have to preface what I'm going to say next. Here's the deal: My pain had a lot to do with sugar. To put it short (and we're getting there in a minute), came out that too high sugar consumption was a problem for me, and contributed to my pain.
I know what a lot of people will say now: You are promoting the diet culture by saying this, this is totally unnecessary fear mongering behavior, and menstrual pain is normal.
There's a big difference between
a) restricting sugar because someone has a terrible relationship with food, their body image, and themselves, and this is a way to “control” something in their lives
b) reducing sugar because this is healthier for an individual. I am not promoting the diet culture, I don't personally care if anyone consumes sugar or not, but I am saying that I figured out that for me, eating a lot of sugar was unhealthy.
The Last Minute Decision That Changed Everything
On to the story now…
I had somewhat gotten used to the idea that my periods come with pain.
I was wondering if it can help with my period pain, although I wasn't very hopeful. Last day of the sale, I decided to get the program because it seemed like a really good deal. And, I never regretted it.
Blood Sugar Regulation Was The Key
One of the first things that I learned was that managing your blood sugar properly can make a huge difference in your period symptoms. In her program, Nicole taught us how to measure your blood sugar, what are the numbers to look at, and what actions to take when some numbers are a bit “off the chart”.
The very first number I learned was 70-85mg/dl. This is the blood sugar reading that you want to have when you take your reading in the morning, after fasting for 8 hours.
Guess what mine was on the first day of tracking?
It freaked me out a bit… And of course, I continued tracking to see how my body responds to meals.
I learned that ideally, no foods should raise your blood sugar level more than 25 points. Here's what I found with several foods: My blood sugar would go from 80-85 mg/dl before meal, to 160 mg/dl after eating, and stay there… An hour after, it would still be around 155 mg/dl, but it should drop back to where it was before starting the meal.
What Happened After One Month
I started tracking what I ate and how my body responded, using the guidelines that were provided in the program. I found that eating high sugar foods really skyrocketed my blood sugar, but not only — even oatmeal and sweet potatos did that, even though I had them with carbs and protein. About 30 minutes after eating these foods, my blood sugar was at 160 mg/dl, and 30 minutes later (60 minutes from eating) it would still be around 140-150 mg/dl.
I started reducing high sugar foods. It wasn't easy because I have a sweet tooth, I've always had it! I used to have sweets regularly: Maybe a few cookies earlier in the day, then somewhere during the day a protein bar made with dates, and maybe another small sweet snack later.
Plus, I would eat oatmeal and sweet potatos at least every other day.
This is not to say that you should not have these foods…. This is my experience with them.
After one month of significantly reducing added sugar and also limiting oatmeal and other foods that caused my blood sugar to skyrocket, my period came with no pain.
It was crazy to me.
I decided to keep going for another month and see if this was a coincidence… Which it was not. My second period came, and it was pain free as well.
By now (July 2020), I've had 6 pain free cycles, and one cycle when I had to take a few pain killers. And I know that this was the month when I consumed more sugar.
What I Didn't Know About Macronutrients
I still eat some sugar, but not nearly as much as I used to a year ago.
As this experience shows, there is value in paying attention to our food, and it is not entirely true that you can eat whatever, whenever and in any amounts and it will not impact you negatively. I admit that when I was in recovery, I used to think that food freedom means eating whatever and any limitations are wrong. Now, I admit that it was not entirely true.
In my early recovery and post HA days I also used to think that all tracking is bad and wrong. However, I have changed my mind about that as well. Just yesterday, I took a look at My Fitness Pal and the entries that I had made there in early 2019 when I was occasionally tracking my calories. Not consistently, and not paying attention to macronutrients at all, but tracking for a few weeks here and there.
What I found was that I had many days where my carb intake was really high compared to my fat and protein, sometimes reaching 300-320 grams a day. Again, that's fine if it's not a problem for you! But for me, this may explain why I had this problem. My carbohydrates were very high, a good portion of my carbs came from sugary snacks, and I wasn't paying much attention to my fats and protein at all.
I eat differently now, paying much more attention to balancing my meals, and yes, eating much less sugar.
I want to reiterate that there's a big difference between cutting back on sugar (or making any other dietary adjustment) 1) because you're so obsessed with food and your body, and 2) because it doesn't work for your health very well.
I had to cut back on sugar to get rid of my period pain. I am still eating some, but I prefer stevia sweetened chocolate, I use monk fruit sweetener when I bake, but that doesn't mean that I say no to a slice of regular birthday cake or occasional ice cream. I just know that I have to be more aware when consuming sugar. And I choose to do what's better for my health. If this sounds like promoting the dieting mindset, that's their right — I know that I'm doing food freedom the way that works for me. And part of it is making sure that I feel physically well.