How to Make Seed Cycling a Habit

Spoonful of ground flax seeds

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Health trends ebb and flow. Just as one type of food takes the spotlight, it’s quickly overshadowed by the next “superfood.” There’s no denying the health benefits of whole foods like dark leafy greens, berries, and legumes even when they’re not the “it” food of the moment. The next food to join the ranks? Seeds. Specifically, seeds are highly revered by those following the practice of seed cycling for their hormones.

Seeds have become a hot topic not only for being a rich source of healthy fats but also for their benefits related to hormonal health, specifically women’s hormone balance. Certain seeds are consumed at a specific point in a woman’s menstrual cycle to support healthy hormone levels. The rotation of different seeds depending on where a woman’s at in her cycle is known as seed cycling. It has become popular for its association with hormonal rhythm.

"Seed cycling has been said to help promote and restore balance and alignment in a woman's monthly cycle, whether by reducing pre-menstrual symptoms (PMS) or optimizing ovulation patterns/fertility," says Jenna Volpe RDN, LD, CLT, a registered dietitian and holistic health practitioner.

Starting any new habit comes with its challenges, however. It may be expensive, time-consuming, or unpleasant. If seed cycling interests you, here’s how to make it a daily habit so you can reap all the benefits without the overwhelm and confusion.

What to Know About Seed Cycling

Seed cycling involves tracking your menstrual cycle and incorporating certain seeds on certain days. It’s associated with naturopathic and alternative medicinal practices.

The seeds in question include pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds. A woman will consume around 2-4 tablespoons of specific seeds each day. However, she won’t consume all four types of seeds each day. The type of seeds in rotation depending on where she’s at in her menstrual cycle: the follicular phase or the luteal phase. Both phases are marked by ovulation and menstruation.

The follicular phase begins on the first day of menstruation and ends when ovulation begins. It usually lasts around two weeks, but everyone’s cycle is different. During this time, those practicing seed cycling will consume 1-2 tablespoons of both flax seeds and pumpkin seeds.

The luteal phase starts at the point of ovulation and ends when the period begins. It also lasts for around two weeks but varies from person to person. During this phase, you’ll consume 1-2 tablespoons of both sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.

There are many anecdotal reports on the benefits of seed cycling, but there is limited scientific evidence. Many proponents of seed cycling rely on nutritional values and the research that supports the health effects of the individual seeds on hormonal balance.

"While there's a need for more clinical studies to support claims about seed cycling, this practice has been recommended and practiced among our ancestors and holistic medicine practitioners for centuries, if not millennia, due to its potential benefits and claims in the realm of hormonal harmony," Volpe says.

Challenges to Expect

Following any type of eating plan comes with its challenges, and seed cycling is no exception. Here are a few hurdles others have run into.

When it comes to seed cycling, one of the largest challenges that women face is knowing what point they’re at in their cycle. Seed cycling relies heavily on the phases of the menstrual cycle. While it’s easy to pinpoint day one of your cycle (when your period starts), determining the time of ovulation isn’t so easy.

Accessing the right type of seeds can also be a challenge. Seeds can be expensive, and many varieties are whole, roasted, salted, and flavored. The seeds used during seed cycling should be raw and ground.

Knowing how to incorporate the seeds in a tasty way can be a source of difficulty if you’re not used to preparing food with seeds. Snacking on whole seeds is easy, convenient, and delicious, but you can’t snack on ground seeds. If you haven’t figured out a way to make this enjoyable, you’re more likely to get deterred.

Lack of organization and preparation may be a hurdle. Seed cycling isn’t as simple as taking a multivitamin every day. If you choose to grind your own seeds every day so they’re freshest, this can be time consuming and create a mess in the kitchen. You may forget which seeds to ingest and how much.

"The research on seed cycling is sparse and mixed, likely because there are so many other variables to consider, such as a nutritious, balanced diet, gut health, physical activity, and stress level to name a few," Volpe explains.

"Seed cycling among women taking hormone replacement or birth control may yield very different outcomes compared to a seed cycling practice among women who aren't taking any kind of supplemental hormones."

Fortunately, many people have succeeded at seed cycling before you and can contribute their success in part to making seed cycling a habit. For every obstacle you may face, there’s a way to get around or through it.

How to Make Seed Cycling a Habit

Making something a daily habit requires some effort. Here’s how you can set yourself up for success if you want to try seed cycling.

1. Chart your cycle and take ovulation tests

Many people chart or track their cycle to predict when their period is coming. This can be done with a smartphone app or calendar. Those following seed cycling need to know a bit more information than that, however. Predicting your period and predicting ovulation are two different things, and the latter isn’t easy because you can’t visually see it like you can with the former.

Knowing when you’re ovulating is crucial to be able to follow seed cycling correctly. To know this information, chart your menstrual cycle in detail each month. 

Taking ovulation tests can also help you know when you’ve switched from the follicular phase to the luteal phase and therefore signals when to rotate the seeds. "Taking ovulation tests is a great objective way to measure whether seed cycling is making a difference, one way or the other," says Volpe. "Otherwise there is really no reliable, measurable, clinically sound method of tracking ovulation."

2. Purchase seeds in bulk

Raw seeds are the most expensive variety. One way to save is to purchase them in bulk. You can choose to purchase them whole or ground. If you purchase them ground, this saves you time. If you purchase them whole, you’ll have to spend time grinding them yourself on a regular basis, but they may be the freshest. Don’t forget to store them in the fridge for maximum freshness.

3. Incorporate raw, ground seeds in tasty recipes

You may picture yourself snacking on sunflower seeds and sprinkling sesame seeds onto your stir-fry dishes as part of seed cycling. While these are generally healthy choices, those following seed cycling must get creative to consume seeds in their raw, ground form.

Consuming 2-4 tablespoons of ground seeds per is comparable to eating about 1 ounce of whole nuts. Daily, this might seem like a lot, but once you figure out how to add them to foods, you'll likely notice that it is easier than you thought. Add the ground seeds to your smoothies, oats, soups, salads, seed butters, granolas, and more. You may even have success incorporating the ground seeds into homemade falafel or veggie patties.

Make sure to keep track of your daily consumption. This may affect your daily intake of calories, carbohydrates, fat, and protein.

4. Get organized

Having a routine and staying organized can make seed cycling less daunting. Get on a schedule so you know when to purchase more seeds, grind them, and meal prep recipes with them. 

If you choose to grind your seeds yourself, you’ll need a seed or coffee grinder, storage containers, and labels. To keep them fresh, store them in the refrigerator.

You can even measure the servings ahead of time and store them individually. Label the pre-measured containers with the corresponding date so you can quickly grab the seeds from the fridge and incorporate them into your meals.

5. Lean on your support system

Support from family and friends can go a long way when embarking on a new health initiative. You may also find online support from bloggers or groups of others who practice seed cycling. This can expedite your learning and inspire you to keep going. Your healthcare practitioner can also be part of your support system.

A Word From Verywell

Seed cycling is a simple practice, but any new habit can be challenging at first. Follow these steps to make seed cycling a daily habit and part of your long-term routine. After a few weeks, seed cycling will feel like second nature to you.

While there is limited research that supports the hormonal health benefits of seed cycling, there are nutritional advantages to consuming more seeds. This practice can also encourage you to get creative in the kitchen and try new recipes.

If you’re not sure about seed cycling, check with your doctor to see if the practice is right for you. It may not be a fit for everyone.

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