What to Eat and What to Avoid During Your Time of the Month
Cramps, bloating, irritability, you know the drill...all the lovely symptoms that come with being a woman and battling PMS.
It's times like these when the pint of Ben & Jerry's chillin' in the freezer sounds REAL good.
And though it does seem like it would fix all your problems, it's not going to benefit you shortly after. You'll feel crappy, either from the self-inflicted guilt of binging on ice cream, or from your body telling you that ice cream isn't the answer and it's actually craving other foods and nutrients.
So, consider putting the carton of ice cream, or jar of Nutella back and try some of these foods instead that'll make you feel better during AND after eating them:
Rich in fiber, iron, & magnesium.
We lose iron when we're on our period, so supplementing more into your diet is important for your health to help prevent any deficiencies and lessen feelings of fatigue.
Magnesium helps reduce cramps, so you definitely want to make sure you have adequate amounts of that in your diet, for obvious reasons.
And fiber helps to regulate our digestive systems AND our estrogen levels *so we don't get too crazy and worked up*. So remain calm & free yourself from constipation...don't be the backed-up loony lady no one wants to put up with.
Easy ways to add more spinach to your diet:
Add it to your smoothies
Make it the base of your salad
Wilt it to have as a dinner side
Rich in calcium, fiber, & magnesium.
Calcium helps with preventing PMS, so it's important to have enough in our diets before and during our time of the month.
Easy ways to add more broccoli to your diet:
Roast in the oven and have as dinner sides or add to salads
Pair raw florets with carrots sticks & hummus
Add to soups
Rich in potassium.
Adequate potassium in your diet can prevent you from retaining water and feeling bloated.
When we're lacking potassium, muscle cramps become a thing—which is the last thing we want when we're already dealing with menstrual cramps.
Easy ways to add bananas to your diet:
Blend into your smoothies
Have as a post workout snack with some nut butter or PB2.
Make my favorite Almond Butter 'Nana Sandwiches.
Rich in antioxidants & magnesium.
Emphasis on DARK...not milk, not white...dark.
Antioxidants and magnesium both help with relieving cramps and improving mood. So, with dark chocolate, less cramps, better mood, and the benefit of satisfying our almost inevitable sweet tooth during this time.
Easy ways to enjoy dark chocolate:
Have a 60%+ cocoa dark chocolate bar on hand to eat as an after-dinner sweet tooth satisfier. (Most bars contain 2 servings, so be mindful of how much you should have).
Add dark chocolate chips to healthy desserts.
Dip fresh strawberries into some melted dark chocolate.
Whole Grains (oatmeal, quinoa, bread, brown rice)
Rich in B vitamins & magnesium.
B vitamins help keep your appetite under control due to their role in producing serotonin *which is a 'feel-good' hormone* that keeps our hunger AND HAPPINESS in check.
Easy ways to add more whole grains to your diet:
Swap a lunch sandwich on white bread for whole grain bread.
Make overnight oats ahead of time to eat as a grab-and-go healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast.
Make a dinner stir fry using brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice.
Rich in Omega-3, vitamin D, & B6.
These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to reduce the pain from cramping. Vitamin D can even help fight irritability...so you can see where getting enough Vitamin D would be beneficial for ALL parties involved. ;)
Easy ways to add salmon to your diet:
Grill a fresh wild-caught salmon filet for dinner & pair it with some wilted spinach or a big garden salad.
Add it to a lunch salad.
Make a healthy sandwich using organic reduced-sodium wild-caught salmon, fresh spinach, and whole grain bread. LOTS of nutrients necessary for period week right there!
Walnuts & Flaxseed
Rich in Omega-3 & B12.
Similar to wild salmon, these foods are great sources of these nutrients for vegans, vegetarians, or those who just don't dig seafood.
Easy ways to add more walnuts & flaxseed to your diet:
Top off oatmeal with chopped walnuts, or add them into healthy breakfast muffins.
Toss some flaxseed into your smoothie.
Use chopped walnuts as a salad topping.
Plain Greek Yogurt
Rich in calcium.
Again, calcium is a big one for preventing PMS, and Greek yogurt is packed with calcium.
Easy ways to add Greek yogurt to your diet:
Pair some Greek yogurt with fruit & walnuts to eat as a healthy breakfast or snack.
Use as a base for your smoothie.
Eat it as is and add a little raw honey or maple syrup, sprinkle of cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. to give it more flavor, in a MUCH healthier way than buying flavored yogurt.
Sip on this to help calm muscle spasms and reduce the severity of cramps.
A cup of this can help relieve and/or prevent any anxiety that can creep up before & during your period.
So now that we've gone over 'foods for focus', it's important to also be aware of the foods/substances to avoid during this time.
What to AVOID:
Bloating and cramps are definitely the top complaints about periods. So, if you're trying to adhere on the side of 'beat the bloat' during period week, you 1000% want to watch your sodium intake, aka salt.
Excess amounts of salt cause water retention, which causes bloating.
So, look at your labels before eating, try to avoid processed foods whenever you can *as they are usually high in sodium, among many other reasons to avoid these*, and go easy on the salt shaker.
Flavor your food with spices, herbs, etc. and use a sprinkle of sea salt here and there when necessary. If you need more tips when it comes to sodium/salt, check out my post here.
Sad, but true. Coffee, as we know, contains caffeine, and caffeine is one of the worst substances you can put into your body when battling PMS. It can easily raise your heart rate, and even your blood pressure. When those are raised, that can worsen PMS symptoms.
If you're an avid coffee drinker, like myself, try to cut back during your time of the month.
BUT, instead of focusing on the 'cutting out' of it, replace it with something else that'll better benefit you, like tea, sparkling water, or even decaf.
Tasty cakes, doughnuts, cookies, etc. are all high in refined sugar, and can throw your hormones out of whack. If you're craving something sweet, reach for fresh fruit or dark chocolate instead.
Healthy hack: you can easily make your own 'candy' that tastes like Twizzlers *but even better* out of strawberries. All you have to do is remove the stems, set them on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast in the oven at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. *You can add a little lemon juice, cinnamon, and/or balsamic vinegar too—depending on the flavor profile you desire.
Periods are inevitable—well, unless you're reading this and no longer get them, have had a surgery, or get the shot—so, might as well do the best we can to lessen our PMS rage by eating and drinking right for the monthly fight.