Breakfast on Your Period Is a Judgement-Free Zone
Sour cream. Eggs. Prosciutto. Tater tots. An entire frozen cheese pizza. It’s the most decadent breakfast pizza ever and it’s worthy of the most craving-crazed, carb-lustful time of the month: your period. This breakfast pizza is the brainchild of Marie Lodi, a writer in Los Angeles who has elevated period food to an art form on her blog, Bloodfeast, a collection of recipes inspired by that time of the month. Bloodfeast began as an occasional column on the Hairpin in 2014, envisioned as a “random idea” by Lodi, the daughter of a chef. “I love talking about periods and it's kind of my contribution to help stomp out period shame.”
Bloodfeast is now a standalone compendium of sweet and savory carb-blowouts that are “pretty much the antithesis of everything that's popular in food writing now—the whole gluten-free/Whole30/healthy thing,” she said. Her other Frankenfood treats include a Nutella bacon burger, a lasagna sandwich, and something called “My Uterus Is Listening to the Cramps” mac ‘n cheese. She says of her caloric pizza bomb, “Once you put an egg on it, it turns into breakfast!”
Breakfast takes on an outsized importance on the days leading up to periods. Bloating, cramping, fatigue, and period cravings can lead us down peculiar culinary rabbit holes. My sister, for instance, a 50-year-old stay-at-home mom in Connecticut, had her own breakfast bloodfeast of questionable culinary merit, recalling, “In college I remember having onion bagel with cream cheese and smashed-up Cool Ranch Doritos on top.”
Doritos on cream cheese may hit the spot for some women. For others, only something iron-rich will do. “I want meat first thing in the morning—the saltier, the better,” an editor friend of mine in Brooklyn told me. “I go from healthy oatmeal with fruit to bacon sandwiches and sausage rolls.” Avital Norman Nathman, 36, a writer in Massachusetts, echoed that craving for salt. “I tend to eat more savory dishes when I have my period,” she said. She shared the breakfast dish that keeps her going when Aunt Flo is in town: salad with balsamic vinegar and fried egg on top, “so that when you crack the egg all the yolk mixed with the balsamic and makes an amazing dressing.” I myself a crave salty, savory sandwich of lox, capers, and a fried egg on focaccia—specifically the Leo’s Special from Peck’s in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.
There's a method to this madness. Women crave red meat during their periods because it’s rich in iron, explains registered dietician Keri Glassman—which makes sense when our bodies are losing blood (albeit a small amount). Eggs, poultry, meat, fish and legumes are iron-rich foods to reach for when you’re on the rag, she said.
But period breakfast cravings have nothing on pregnancy breakfast cravings. Janet Manley, a 35-year-old Brooklyn writer who is pregnant with her second child, has a very specific craving that can only be satisfied in Sydney cafes of her native Australia. “It's honestly a bit hard to remember having a period, because it has been almost two years since I had one,” Janet admitted. “I can tell you that, as a pregnant person—the sensation of which is basically period plus the intensity of hormones—I need to eat the second I get out of bed, and have craved nothing so much as the fabulous mushroom-on-toast staples of every Sydney cafe in existence,” she continued. “It's something to do with the gargantuan white plates, hefty slices of crusty buttered sourdough or Turkish bread, and perfectly caramelized mushrooms (with ubiquitous roasted tomato), as well as the ability to order, say, a teapot of Earl Grey with wee milkpot of soy to go alongside.”
Brooklyn comedian Julia Shiplett, 29, gets a sweet tooth when she is bleeding and so she does dessert for breakfast. “I see it as a form of self-care,” she said. “My body is shedding its uterine lining—obviously I deserve this lemon tart.”
That bloodthirst for a pudding cup may actually be the sign of a magnesium deficiency. “Some studies have shown decreased magnesium concentrations in women with PMS, which is caused by the alteration in the balance of the female hormones during the menstrual cycle,” said Glassman, the dietician. She advised eating leafy greens, seeds, and nuts instead of an entire jar of Nutella.
Winona, 31, a salesperson in Nashville, gets her period breakfast on with the time-honored peanut-butter-and-chocolate combination. “My go-to is oatmeal with a heaping tablespoon of peanut butter and a handful of chocolate chips mixed in,” she said. “It's decadent and satisfies a chocolate craving, but I can still tell myself I'm making a healthy choice because somewhere underneath all the melted chocolate is oatmeal.” You could also try my sister’s other period breakfast recipe: crumpling up a brownie into oatmeal.
Whatever the marching orders from your monthly visitor, it’s important to remember how the ideal period breakfast should make you feel, straight from expert Marie Lodi herself: “90 percent satisfaction, 10 percent regret.”