If you’re anything like me when I’m on my period, all bets are off when it comes to your diet. It’s usually the one week I say screw it and have that large helping of ice cream or handful of chips to cheer myself up.
The catch is, different foods can help— or hurt— how you’re feeling on your period. Watching what you eat during your time of month can help minimize uncomfortable symptoms. Meanwhile, indulging in too much junk food can drain your energy, worsen cramps and bloating, and make you more prone to being cranky. While a sweet treat or salty fries may taste good and make you feel better immediately, it could be prolonging the worst parts of your period!
Keep reading to discover what you should eat on your period to lessen cramps, bloating and other symptoms. Plus, check out the foods to avoid so they don’t get worse.
What To Eat On Your Period:
You don’t have to totally avoid sweets on your period! Containing antioxidants and magnesium, dark chocolate can actually help reduce headaches and cramps.
Dark Leafy Greens
As you lose blood on your period, your body benefits from replenishing minerals such as iron and calcium. According to Sydney Ziverts, Health & Nutrition Investigator from ConsumerSafety.org, “[Calcium] can help to reduce menstrual pains and lessen bloating and water retention.” Additionally, “If you’re iron deficient, you may experience unwanted symptoms during your period such as brain fog, excessive tiredness, and mood swings.” Kale and broccoli are great options that are easy to incorporate into your meals.
Yep, they’re good for your heart— but also for your period being rich in iron and magnesium! “Eating beans during your period can help to boost serotonin levels and diminish bloating,” says Ziverts.
“Consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon or tuna, can help reduce inflammation during a period.” says Dr. Denise Elser, urogynecologist as Advocate Christ Medical Center in Illinois. Not a fan of fish? Other great options include walnuts, chia seeds, and brussels sprouts.
Beat PMS symptoms with eggs! “The Vitamin D found in egg yolks can help ease PMS symptoms, specifically cramping,” says Dr. Elser. “Vitamin D is also known to improve your energy levels and mood.”
Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice and quinoa keep you full without the bloat. “Whole grains are an excellent source of fiber and can keep your bowel movements regular during your period. Whole grains are also an important source of Vitamin B, folic acid, iron, and magnesium,” explains Dr. Elser.
What Not to Eat On Your Period:
Consuming too much dairy while on your period can cause inflammation and cramping. The protein A1 casein found in milk causes inflammation in the digestive tract, though it doesn’t affect everyone. Try cutting out dairy if you experience painful cramps, and see if it helps.
Salty & Fatty Foods
Stay away from processed food as much as you can, including anything overly salty, fatty, fried or oily. Anything high in sodium— as most processed foods are— will only make your bloating worse. Fatty foods can influence hormones in your body. This can lead to symptoms like bloating, acne, and tender breasts. When snacking, step away from the fried foods and try sticking to whole foods like fruits, veggies and nuts, among the others listed above.
Unfortunately, you may want to switch to decaf while on your period. “ Caffeine can not only worsen any symptoms of anxiety, but can also increase pain from cramps,” says Ziverts. “Because caffeine constricts blood vessels, you’re likely to experience extreme cramping if you load up on coffee or soda.” However, keep in mind that some over the counter pain medicine that contains caffeine can still help greatly reduce headaches you experience while menstruating.
Your blood sugar levels already fluctuate when on your period, which is what causes you to crave sweets during the week. Giving in to the cravings only adds to the instability, though, and can cause major mood swings. Plus, your sugar crash can be even harder on your period, resulting in fatigue.