By Monica Kar and Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D.
I was raised in India in the Vedic tradition, and I now live in the United States. Having almost half a century of observation of different societies, I reached the following conclusion: women all over the world need to learn to value themselves more. To nurture comes naturally to most women — just not themselves!
A healthy body relies on the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of an individual. We were taught as children that disease was merely dis-ease, a physical manifestation of emotional, mental or spiritual discomfort. Too simplistic? Maybe.
It does have a ring of truth to it, though.
Menstruation in the Vedic tradition
Nothing separates a man from a woman as boldly, sometimes as painfully, as clearly as the monthly cycle — your monthly period! Called "the curse" for a long time in the Western world, this was, and still remains, something too private to discuss for most women, especially in India.
When I was growing up, this was introduced to me as a time of comparative rest. The body was carrying out its monthly cleansing ritual and it was my duty to help it, not hinder it in its job. How could I help? By giving it more rest, by curbing my natural activities as much as I comfortably could and not being involved in heavy activity of any kind. Going for a walk instead of playing a sport, eating on time and sleeping early to give the body time and energy to perform this ritual.
This was also a time to nourish myself by eating light-to-digest, sattvic (pure), fresh, home-cooked food at regular intervals. To stay away from caffeine, too much sweet, too much salt; in other words, everything had to be in balance — and no fast food! The last was easy to accomplish, as India still had not seen the advent of fast food when I was growing up.
Follow an Ayurvedic diet during your monthly cycle
Here are some recipes that can provide benefit during this sometimes difficult time of the month:
- Mixed Greens for the Monthly Cycle
- Khichadi for the Monthly Cycle
Khichadis and soups are good meals for this time of the month — they soothe and relax your digestive system.
Do avoid cold foods and uncooked salads during this time.
Stir-fried vegetables are also a good option. Try to have a small helping of any grain of your choice — barley, wheat, rice, or quinoa — with the vegetables to bring a balance to your meal.
Remember to eat light, regular, balanced meals.
When your daughter reaches this landmark in her life, it is time to educate her on how to live through this time on a monthly basis in a healthy manner. This way, when she is on her own, taking care of herself will come naturally to her. Introduce healthy eating a little at a time, if you face resistance, but don't give up. It is easier for daughters to follow what they have seen their mothers do, so lead by example!
Take care of yourselves, all you wonderful women out there, so that you may have the energy to take care of everything else life brings to you. Remember to be kind to yourselves, especially during your monthly period.
Discover more Ayurvedic tips and advice on The Pulse.
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