Just between us girls: it’s no fun being on our period. Cramps, bloating, backpain – it’s so uncomfortable! But instead of taking a painkiller, consider switching up your diet. Some food can make period pain worse, while others can help give relief and even comfort. Here’s what you should eat (and not eat) during your period.
What to Avoid During your Period
Sweet, fizzy drinks like soda can make you feel even more bloated. Plus, the sugar can spike up your body’s glucose levels – and studies link a high-glycemic diet with acne breakouts. If you’re already prone to pimples during your period, skip sugary drinks when you start getting PMS symptoms.
Put that cup of instant ramen down, girl. Processed foods like instant noodles, microwaveable dishes (even microwaveable popcorn!) and canned meats contain a lot of transfats that cause your estrogen levels to become higher. Higher estrogen = more pain and discomfort.
Oily, fried food
There’s a lot of transfat in cooking oil too, so you may want to skip the fried and greasy food. Plus, cooking oils also contain saturated fats. That’s bad on any day, but it’s especially troublesome during that time of the month. Fats have a strong effect on hormonal activity and can cause inflammation (bloating) and pain.
Salt causes water retention, and you know what that means – puffiness everywhere, and that heavy and sluggish feeling. A lot of low-fat food contains a lot of salt, so be sure to read the labels of so-called “healthy” alternatives like salad dressings and veggie chips.
Beans and legumes
Beans and legumes (as well as bean-derived dishes like tofu) are generally healthy sources of protein and folic acid, and at any other time we’d encourage you to fill your plate with them. However, they can cause gas and tummy trouble. Plan your meals so that you get a lot of them during the rest of your cycle, and limit intake in the days leading and during your menstruation.
What to Eat During Your Period
Your body loses a lot of iron during your period, so load up on iron-rich green leafy vegetables. Try spinach, bokchoy, and kale. Steam or blanche them, and drizzle with just a little sesame oil and salt for a quick and healthy side dish. You can also add them to soups.
Fortified cereals and whole wheat bread are rich in iron and mood-regulating B vitamins. The fiber can also help with digestion, which can reduce bloat and relieve that heavy feeling.
Studies show that calcium and vitamin D can help relieve anxiety and depression, thanks to their effect on your hormones that regulate mood like serotonin! You can get these nutrients from milk, yogurt, cheese, and citrus fruits like oranges. Hmm – seems like a fruit shake or smoothie is all you need to shake off the PMS and period mood swings!
Bananas are some of the best things to eat during your period. They’re rich in vitamin B, potassium and magnesium, which can help prevent bloating.
Salmon and fatty fish
If you’re prone to menstrual cramps, increase your intake of salmon and other fatty fish that contain omega-3 fatty acids. These nutrients are natural muscle relaxants, so they can help minimize any tummy pain. If you’re not a fan of fish, you can try getting omega-3s from avocados, pumpkin, or supplements.