It’s around that time of the month again, and the symptoms are back. Headaches, fatigue, body aches, abdominal cramping, mood swings, and nausea, either all at once or tapping in and out on the sidelines to ensure you nothing but non-stop pain. People experience period symptoms differently and treat them in their own unique ways.
You might enjoy a heated pad around your abdomen for comfort and to help alleviate cramps or take a Midol. Maybe there are exercises you swear help with some of the bloating, or you practice yoga throughout your period. Whatever it is, we are glad it helps!
If you still struggle with bad symptoms of your period, consider how your diet could be affecting your body’s reaction.
Unfortunately, eating foods high in carbs and sugars when on your period can intensify your symptoms and menstrual pain. Knowing which foods can help lessen symptoms and alleviate discomfort can save you a world of hurt and bloat.
Understanding your body, in general, will help you to overcome bad period pains and feel better. You don’t have to sacrifice something that tastes delicious to feel better.
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We have to get this one out of the way for obvious reasons. Water is always the first answer when you talk about wanting to feel better or be healthier. Don't get me wrong, this is good advice. Suppose you are staying hydrated during your period.
In that case, you will lessen the chances of developing headaches due to dehydration. It will help your digestive system by keeping things flowing and from bloating. It will also help with energy levels and fatigue.
If you want to set yourself up to feel better throughout your period, the least you can do is hydrate!
One of the best kinds of foods to eat during your period is fruit. Fruit is high in water content and fiber, so it helps keep you hydrated, and it is a great replacement for when you are craving sweets. Consider grabbing some watermelon or a fruit salad instead of going for the chocolate fudge cake or ice cream sundae! Some other fun fruits you can eat are blueberries and bananas. To help with any chocolate craving, you can always throw some dark chocolate chips in a bowl with your fruit!
Consuming fruit has been proven to protect against premenstrual syndrome (PMS), and if you aren’t eating enough, the symptoms will worsen. You can help alleviate your pain by eating at least two servings of fruit a day, so make sure to stock up on your favorite fruits rather than your favorite candy.
Magnesium Rich Foods
It was recently found that magnesium (bonus if you take it with vitamin B6) may help treat PMS symptoms. By including magnesium-rich foods into your diet, you are effectively treating your PMS symptoms. Magnesium helps reduce period pains by relaxing the uterus muscles, and it is also thought to help calm the nervous system.
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Almonds and cashews
- Peanut butter
- Black beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Whole grains
- Dark chocolate (yes!)
If you typically have a heavier flow, it’s important to consider the iron that your body is losing out on. In order to manage your iron levels and combat fatigue and dizziness, supplement them by eating dark leafy greens.
Kale and spinach are great greens for getting iron and magnesium and can be added to many different meals. You can blend these up for a breakfast smoothie or make a delicious omelet. Include them in a salad or steam them up as a side dish for your dinner. It’s very common for your iron levels to lower when on your period, so finding healthy and delicious ways to boost them can be done with greens!
We all understand that when you are going through your period, you will have cravings. Often, sweet treats are on the mind, but all those carbs and sugars can really back up your digestive system and cause intense bloating and fatigue.
Consuming too many sweets can amplify your symptoms, and even though it tastes good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. You become overly tired when consuming too many refined sugars, which does not help when on your period.
But no need to fret because dark chocolate is considered to be both tasty and helpful when it comes to PMS. Dark chocolate is loaded with iron and magnesium, two nutrients that tend to dip when on your period, so having some of a dark chocolate bar will actually benefit you. You can get that sweet taste without worrying about bloating or fatigue later on.
Ginger has been found to reduce period discomfort, and several trials showed that it helped alleviate menstrual pain when given to those experiencing it. It has anti-inflammatory properties and has been given to pregnant women to assist with morning sickness, so you can assure it is safe to consume. This is because it has anti-nausea abilities, which help to calm the stomach.
Ginger limits the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals connected to the onset of period cramps. There are a few easy ways that you can consume ginger, and they are:
- Making ginger tea and drinking it either in the morning or before bed. This is the most popular way to consume ginger, as it is the easiest and very soothing on the body.
- Adding dried powdered ginger to meals to add as a spice. You can add ginger to anything, and it will give the dish a little something extra. It’s easy to sprinkle some on top, or you can find recipes where ginger is the main ingredient!
You should make sure that you aren’t over consuming ginger as it can lead to stomach aches and heartburn.
For those who are not allergic to the many different kinds of nuts, eating a serving or two a day (especially when on your period) can be highly beneficial. Nuts are typically rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, so they give you a boost of energy without the risk of crashing. Nuts are iron-rich foods and also carry magnesium which is encouraged to consume during your period.
You can also try other ways to consume nuts if you aren’t a fan of a plain handful of nuts. There are plenty of nut butter options to choose from, so you can find one you enjoy: almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter, etc. Make sure you purchase a nut butter that does not consume any added ingredients such as sugar
You can also grind the nuts into a smoothie or include them in homemade granola or toppings on your yogurt. Find what works for you to get all the benefits of nuts.
Yogurt is one of many dairy products rich in probiotics that can help treat yeast infections. People are more prone to get a yeast infection when on their period or even directly afterward. Eating foods high in probiotics can help strengthen the good bacteria in your vagina to help it fight against yeast infections.
Yogurt is a great morning meal or snack for the day and can be amplified with other healthy and delicious toppings.
You can include dark chocolate chips, nuts, granola, or fruit into your yogurt to make it a powerful treat. It also contains magnesium and calcium, both of these minerals are essential for proper body function and can help protect your body while it goes through the menstrual cycle.
Another great thing about yogurt is that it tastes relatively sweet and light, depending on the flavoring that you choose. This means that if you are craving something sweet, yogurt is a great substitute for something high in refined sugars or carbs.
Cuddling up with your favorite movie, a heating pad, some dark chocolate, and a cup of hot tea is a fan favorite when it comes to menstrual symptoms. Many kinds of teas are thought to help relieve menstrual symptoms, but regardless of the flavor, the soothing properties that tea holds are overall very helpful.
We’ve already discussed ginger tea, but a few teas are thought to be extra helpful when it comes to alleviating symptoms: peppermint, chamomile, green tea (decaf if consumed in the evening), and kombucha.
Peppermint tea has antispasmodic properties that can help soothe muscle cramps. By consuming a few cups of peppermint tea a day, you can help to relax the walls in your uterus and minimize your cramping pains. Peppermint tea is delicious and refreshing, so consider keeping it stocked up in your pantry.
Like yogurt, kombucha is high in probiotics, which is great for combatting yeast infections during your period. Kombucha has become more popular and is a great alternative for those who are not consuming dairy. The dose of probiotics contained in kombucha helps to restore and balance hormone levels and our digestive system. It also contains B vitamins and boosts the mood of those who drink it!
Chamomile tea has antispasmodic properties which help to alleviate period cramps while also providing a boost of dopamine and serotonin to offset the feelings of depression that come from your menstrual cycle.
It also reduces fatigue and promotes better sleep, which can affect your menstrual cycle. If you aren’t getting enough sleep and feel tired when you are on your period, you will feel the symptoms affect you more. Drinking chamomile can help to combat these symptoms.
Full of antioxidants and soothing properties, green tea is an excellent solution to period pains. It is thought to reduce bloating and can also help you to feel more relaxed after drinking it. This can help with relaxing your muscles as well when experiencing cramping.
Green tea can be enjoyed hot or iced, making for a great seasonal remedy to menstrual pains.
For those of you who can’t get enough olive oil, you are in luck. A study found that those who consumed five teaspoons of olive oil a day had significantly less pain during their menstrual cycle. Olive oil has polyphenol compounds that work similarly to ibuprofen in the way they work against inflammation.
In general, people who consume more olive oil daily might be better off when it comes to their period, so consider this the next time you’re making your favorite Italian dish.
Other Foods You Can Eat
Some other foods you should eat during menstruation:
- Chicken breasts
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
Foods To Avoid
Just as foods can help your period symptoms, some foods can make things a bit more difficult. Of course, we have comforting foods when we aren’t feeling well, but unfortunately, they can sometimes do more harm than good.
Yes, consuming coffee is often on all of our daily agendas, but you might want to consider skipping it and trading in for a cup of tea. Coffee can cause water retention and bloating, which is the last thing you want while already dealing with abdominal pains.
Coffee also assists in the digestive tract but can lead to diarrhea while on your period, so you might want to cut back on your daily consumption if this becomes the case.
Be mindful, though, if you are used to the caffeine from coffee, you might not want to cut it out entirely or make sure you supplement the caffeine from coffee with another source, as it could lead to intense headaches.
Sugar and Salt
Sugar and salt—two of the biggest cravings you might experience when on your period. Unfortunately, those chocolate-covered pretzels are only going to satisfy the cravings; they aren’t going to help your symptoms.
Consuming too much salt can lead to water retention and bloating, while too much sugar, especially refined sugars, can cause fatigue. Sugar only gives you a burst of energy before it causes you to crash, and this is especially felt during your period.
If you struggle with mood swings and bloating during your period, watching your salt and sugar intake can be helpful to regulate both.
Red meat carries a high amount of prostaglandins, which in high doses cause period cramping. By eating a lot of red meat, you are speeding up the onset of cramping by overloading your body with prostaglandins. Limiting your intake or avoiding it entirely during your menstrual cycle will ensure that you don’t speed up the process.
Taking It All Into Consideration
Your body is already going through enough when you are on your period; you shouldn’t deprive it of what it wants.
You deserve the foods you enjoy, but consider some of these alternatives to help your symptoms instead of adding to the problem. Making sure that you are getting your essential nutrients and minerals is going to relieve bloat from your period symptoms. You will thank us in the long run!
Sinead Adedipe See all the author’s articles