It's difficult to know for certain what physical and emotional experiences you may have during your menstrual cycle. Some people experience very few symptoms, while others may have difficulty functioning due to cramping, headaches, pain, and nausea. Consuming certain foods can help reduce swelling, bloating, mood changes, and other symptoms that may occur during this time.
Foods to eat during your period
If you are expecting your next menstrual period soon and want to be prepared to reduce the typical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), modifying your diet may be a useful strategy. When PMS strikes, try incorporating some of these healthy options into your diet to help alleviate your symptoms:
This type of fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relax the uterus and reduce cramps. Incorporating grilled salmon or salmon sushi into your diet can provide a good source of high-quality protein and B vitamins.
Chocolate is often a go-to food during menstruation for many people, and for good reason. It is rich in antioxidants and magnesium and can be a comforting treat. While any type of chocolate can provide some benefits, it's best to choose plain dark chocolate over candy that is loaded with additives and other ingredients, which may provide little to no health benefits and only add empty calories. It's important to remember to consume chocolate in moderation, as even dark chocolate contains sugar and caffeine.
Why am I even eating chocolate?
Eating chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which can help to regulate your mood and promote relaxation. After experiencing these positive effects, your body may start to crave chocolate. This craving may be stronger during your period due to hormonal changes and the loss of blood and nutrients. Instead of indulging in a chocolate bar, try eating a serving of sliced fruit. If that is not an option, consider choosing dark chocolate with less sugar as a healthier alternative when you really want to treat yourself.
Oats are a nutritious whole grain that are high in calcium, vitamins A and B, and iron. In fact, one cup of oats provides approximately 14 milligrams of the recommended daily amount of iron (18 milligrams). Research has shown that consuming more of the type of iron found in oatmeal may be linked to a reduced risk of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Oats can also be helpful for soothing an upset stomach.
Watermelons, figs and plums
Eating certain fruits, which contain natural sugars, may help to curb cravings for sweet items. These fruits are also high in vitamins that can aid in reducing bloating. Watermelon, in particular, has a high water content and can help to keep the body hydrated, leading to less swelling and bloating.
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes are a healthy alternative to sugary snacks. They are high in fiber and vitamin C, which can help to alleviate mood swings and bloating. These fruits also have a high water content, which helps to keep you hydrated. To combat PMS-related nausea and fatigue, try drinking a glass of lemon water or making a citrus smoothie (sweetened or unsweetened). Just be sure to consume these in moderation, as overindulging may cause stomach irritation.
Choose nutritious foods
By noticing the relationship between your symptoms and the food you eat, you can make changes to your diet that may help to improve your symptoms.
Egg yolks are a great source of iron, fat-soluble nutrients, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, and protein, which can all be beneficial for managing PMS. However, if you have a sensitive stomach, it may be best to avoid hard-boiled eggs, as they can sometimes lead to gas, bloating, and heartburn.
Chamomile tea is a good choice to include in your diet while menstruating. It has a calming effect that can help to relax your nerves and uterus, and may also reduce the intensity of cramps. In addition, chamomile tea can help to reduce stress and anxiety and may improve sleep.
Foods to avoid during your period
During your period, it is important to consume foods that are rich in nutrients like vitamins, minerals, water, protein, iron, and fiber, as your body is losing blood and experiencing hormonal changes. At the same time, it is a good idea to avoid certain foods that may not be as nourishing or may exacerbate certain symptoms.
Canned foods, processed meats, and other products containing chemicals and preservatives may contribute to bloating and water retention. It is generally best to avoid high levels of sodium, but it is especially important to do so during your period, as it can have negative effects on your health.
Candy and snacks
Instead of indulging in sweet snacks to satisfy your craving for something sweet, try eating juicy fruit instead. Sweet snacks can contribute to bloating and gas, and they often lead to a short-term increase in blood sugar that is followed by a drastic drop, which can leave you feeling worse.
It is a good idea to limit or avoid consuming alcoholic beverages during your period. This is because the loss of blood can lower your blood pressure, making you more susceptible to the negative effects of alcohol. Alcohol can also increase fatigue and menstrual flow.
If you are already experiencing tiredness, heavy bleeding with blood clots, and cramps, eating spicy food may exacerbate these symptoms by causing gas and bloating. If you cannot resist spicy food, consider using fresh chilies instead of processed options. Some research suggests that spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and fennel may have anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-hypertensive properties that may help to reduce common PMS symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm this. If you decide to try these spices or herbs, be mindful of your portion size to avoid an upset stomach. Before taking any herbs or supplements to address your symptoms, it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider.
There are many nutritious and tasty foods that can help to ease the discomfort and pain associated with menstruation. To aid digestion and replace nutrients lost during this time, it is best to choose heart-healthy, high-fiber meals that are rich in fruits and vegetables, rather than sugary, salty, or fatty treats. When preparing vegetables, try to cook them at a low to medium temperature to preserve as many nutrients as possible. Avoid deep-frying them or using excessive amounts of butter or oil, and instead opt for grilling, roasting, or steaming. It is also important not to skip meals during your period, as this can worsen nausea and fatigue. When possible, choose natural, unprocessed products, and make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and manage your PMS symptoms effectively.