I’ve been promising myself to write an article about my bio-hacking / cycle-syncing / flo-living lifestyle for some time now but I’ve been too shy to do it. It seems that these Oatmeal flaxseed blueberry muffins are the perfect occasion to finally go for it, because of its 3 key ingredients.
This article mainly concerns women but it can be adapted to men as well for different reasons that I will not evoke. Most of the information I will give you will be based on Alisa Vitti’s – functional nutritionist and hormone specialist – Flo-living method from the books ‘The Woman code’ and ‘In the Flo’.
Why this works for me ?
I have benefitted from this lifestyle but what works for me will not necessarily work for you. I recommend speaking to a professional if you need dieting or health advice before following any kind of nutrition plan.
You may have read in previous articles as well as in my ‘About’ page – I have Cystic Fibrosis, a genetic pulmonary illness that also affects the digestive system. Good nutrition is one of the most important natural treatments for CF so I have my own specific needs due to my condition that are independent to my hormonal needs. All of these problems combined has led to my way of eating and has immensely helped my body.
So one of the first rules I have applied is never to “diet”. The only nutrient I tend to avoid 80% of the time is gluten because it slows down my digestive system and I have developed an inflammatory reaction when ingesting it. I can therefore eat some gluten on occasion without too many consequences. So I have learned that the best way to having a healthy body is by balancing out my nutrition with all types of nutrients that provide important minerals, vitamins and macronutrients to my body. That means meat, fish, dairy, greens, fruit, grains and complex carbohydrates (good fats). Needless to say that processed foods are not part of this list.
So what is Flo-living ?
In a few words it
consists of eating and living (women) according to our infradian rhythm : our
28 day menstrual cycles.
We have 4 phases in
our menstrual cycles : menstrual phase, follicular phase, ovulatory phase and
luteal phase. During each phase our body releases different hormones to ensure
its overall healthy functioning and not just for our reproductive system. Our
hormones contribute to our weight balance, stress levels, sleep rhythm,
fertility, emotional stability, libido, skin, nail and hair health and more.
Today nearly 50% of
the women’s world population have at least once in their lives experienced
hormonal imbalances. It’s today’s reality and the number keeps getting higher.
So more and more women are starting to realize that artificial hormonal
treatments or medical intervention is not necessarily helping them on the long
term, and it’s not fixing the root problem.
One could argue that the root problem is that we are not giving our bodies the macronutrients, vitamins or minerals it needs at a specific time of our 28 day cycle. We tend to workout excessively several times a week because of weight problems but we don’t have the physical dispositions for intense workouts all month long because of our hormones. More and more women try out trendy diets such as keto diets or intermittent fasting without knowing that these diets can disrupt our already imbalanced hormones. We eliminate entire food chains from our diets thinking it will be healthier and promote weight loss without knowing that it is depriving our bodies from important nutrients our body needs for hormonal balance. The list goes on.
Flo-living is a cycle syncing method that consists of taking control of our bodies and hormones and giving it what it needs when it needs without needing medical assistance or treatments. It’s as simple as that. This lifestyle is primarily diet orientated but also extends to daily and monthly habits (social life, work routine, physical activities etc).
I started reading ‘The Women Code’ 3 years ago when I realized I was having the worst PMS after stopping birth control, and most importantly that PMS was not normal. My hormones were all over the place, I had terrible mood swings at the end of each cycle, bloating to the point where I would gain a few pounds worth of water retention, I started breaking out, had extremely sensitive breasts 14 days out of the month and very light periods. I had none of these issues while taking birth control because my cycles were controlled by artificial hormones for years.
So how do I Cycle-sync ?
‘The woman code’
educated me, I learned about my hormones, my menstrual cycles and my body as a
woman. It was about time at 28 years old !
In her books Alisa Vitti provides a list of ingredients to eat during each phase of our menstrual cycle each month. It took me a while coupled with some more problems in my life to finally try it out.
After 2 months of
cycle syncing I started to see some results. It took a few months to really
show its benefits.
Today, many years
after discovering this method and applying it seriously to my nutritional
habits, nearly 90% of my symptoms are gone. Not 100% because I choose to give
myself a “break” when I’m in situations where I cannot impose my diet
(social events, holidays, when travelling, or when I’m sick).
I keep saying that I don’t want to impose diets on my body, so by letting myself drink a cup of coffee or that glass of wine or a pizza when I want is my way to compromise. If I want it I’ll have it, moderately.
I chose these Oatmeal flaxseed blueberry muffins as an example for a cycle syncing meal because it has 3 ingredients that are important in 2 adjacent phases : the menstrual phase and the follicular phase. When cycle syncing, you will quickly see that each cycle is slightly different of 1-2 days. Our monthly cycles can vary in duration from month to month, so during transition days from one phase to another I tend to mix ingredients from two lists to make sure I’m not missing anything.
Blueberries during menstrual phase
Blueberries are a good superfood to eat during your menstrual phase because of the following benefits:
1- powerful antioxidant
2- rich in vitamin K and vitamin C
3- rich in fiber
These are important nutrients during a woman’s menstrual phase because they ensure a healthy flow and facilitate the body’s digestion during a phase where we need to eliminate toxins. Phytoestrogen-rich nutrients are good during the first half of our cycle and will help regulate our mood – amongst other things – when our hormone levels are at their lowest. An unhealthy flow will impact our entire cycle. By laying the right foundations to our upcoming cycle we are giving it a kick start to being healthy and balanced.
Oatmeal during follicular phase
Oatmeal is what we would call a complex
carbohydrate or “healthy carbs”. Carbohydrates have been given a bad
reputation throughout the years but the right kind of carbs are essential to
our well-being. Carbohydrates are what give us physical and mental energy and
they are also full of protein and fiber. It is the refined carbs that must be
avoided, anything with added sugar including white bread, white rice, or white
Cooked oats have a fair amount of benefits that are great during the follicular phase :
1- rich in fiber
2- rich in protein
3- rich in zinc
4- rich in magnesium
5- rich in iron
During the follicular phase of your cycle the body will need to build up some energy with light foods but also with energy-sustaining grains such as oats. Fiber is always important in a balanced diet because it allows your system to flush out all excess toxins, hormones and anything not needed in your body. Oats have a specific type of fiber called beta-glucan which acts as a prebiotic for beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome. These microbes are important in our gut at this time of month because they will help eliminate any excess estrogen that we may not need at the beginning of our cycle when hormonal build up is starting. Building estrogen levels is good, but not too much either.
Flaxseed during menstrual phase
Seeds such as flax seeds are important during a woman’s entire menstrual cycle to the point that some promote seed-cycling as a lifestyle. Flax seeds have similar benefits as oats :
1- rich in fiber
2- rich in protein
3- rich in magnesium
4- rich in zinc
5- rich in iron
the probiotic benefits that it essentially gives to the body that is good to
eat globally during the first half of your cycle. Flax seeds will also help the
body build up the right amount of estrogen which is the main focus of the
follicular phase : preparing the follicles (which then becomes an egg) for
estrogen imbalance, whether it’s too much or not enough, can cause important
mood swings (anxiety, depression etc) , lead to weight gain and obesity, can
cause osteoporosis, cardiovascular problems, and interfere with sexual
function. Your entire body can be affected by hormonal imbalance, not only your
So do you see how great these muffins are ?! I tend to eat one for breakfast for a few days during my follicular phase and love them! Not only they work in my Flo living but they’re really good.
Ingredients: (for a dozen muffins)
1 cup of oats
1 cup of buttermilk or regular milk + 2 teaspoons of vinegar
3 tablespoons of melted salted butter
2/3 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of flour + 2 tablespoons of flour
2 heaping tablespoons of ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of fresh blueberries
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a muffin tin with butter and dust it with flour, shaking off the excess.
Combine the oats and buttermilk in a mixing bowl. Let the oats soak for 15-20 minutes. Add the melted butter, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla. Stir until combined.
Add the flour, ground flax seeds , baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir again until evenly moistened.
Before adding the blueberries, scoop a spoonful of batter into each muffin tin. Gently fold the blueberries into the remaining batter and divide evenly between the muffin tins. Place 2-3 additional blueberries at the very top center of each muffin.
Bake muffins for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown.