What foods should you eat and avoid during your period?

If last week I gave you some tips on how you can tweak your training around your menstrual cycle, this week I want to talk to you about your diet during this time. If you are suffering from abdominal pains, cramps, bloating, mood swings or headaches while on your menstrual cycle, I have a good news. There are a few things you can change in your diet to relief these symptoms.

Why you feel like eating before your period? 

Before we go into details about what you should eat, I would like to talk about the appetite you are experiencing before your menstrual cycle. You know those days, before your period, when you feel like eating more than ever and mostly junk food?

Well, this happens because right before your period starts, your progesterone levels are rising. As your hormones go through this cycle, your serotonin levels can also fluctuate. This actually the reason why you feel bloated, headaches and mood swings appear and you feel hungry all the time.

No need to worry, this is perfectly normal!!

What should I eat during my period?

A diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids like fish, calcium and vitamin D, and low in animal fats, salt and caffeine may reduce the risk of troublesome PMS symptoms. Avoiding salt can help reduce fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast swelling and pain. High caffeine intake can cause irritability, poor sleep and menstrual cramps.

Here’s my list of items you should include into your diet:

  1. Fibres – such as beans, almonds, chia seeds, sweet potatoes, whole grains, artichokes, apples and blackberries. Fibres will help with your bloating symptom, as it keeps your digestive track running smoothly.
  2. Iron – such as beans, beef, dark chocolate, lamb, leafy greens, nuts, sunflower seeds, tofu. According to the National Institutes of Health, heavy periods can contribute to iron deficiency anemia in women, which can cause brain fog, tiredness, and mood swings. Hence you should increase the consumption of iron during this time. 
  3. Calcium – from dairy products, almonds, bok choy, leafy greens (go for the darker ones), broccoli. Research shows the bone-boosting mineral can reduce bloating and water retention and soothes your mood swings. 
  4. Magnesium – found in bananas, avocado, beans, dark chocolate, fish, leafy greens, nuts and seeds. Did you know that one reason why you are craving chocolate during your PMS it’s because your body needs the Magnesium in it? While you have now a reason for eating chocolate during this time, you shouldn’t go overboard with the quantity you eat and you should make sure you eat a good quality 70% dark chocolate. 
  5. Vitamin D – from egg yolks, fish oils, cheese, fatty fish, cereals, mushrooms, fortified milk. According to a 2015 study, published in Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology, women who have low vitamin D levels are usually experiencing irregular periods. Moreover, it has been proven that vitamin D deficiency is linked with poor slipping and period pains. 
  6. Chamomile tea - is a calming tea that you can have at any time of day to relax your nervous system and aid with digestion.

What Foods to Avoid During Your Menstrual Cycle?

Here’s what you should avoid adding into your diet during your period:

  1. Too much salt – this can be the cause of your bloating as salt can increase the water retention in your body. If you feel like having a salty snack, you should go for a healthy one, like my recipe of roasted chickpeas.
  2. No processed foods – while this should be a rule to abide by all the time, especially during your periods you should avoid these foods. Foods that are high in sugar or high in unhealthy fats can affect your natural hormone balance. If you are craving for something sweet check out my recipes for healthy sweet snacks
  3. Caffeine based drinks – you don’t need during your period to make your PMS symptoms even worse by increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, after you have your caffeine based drinks. 
  4. Alcohol - The loss of blood during your period might cause low blood pressure as well, which overall makes you extra vulnerable to side-effects of alcohol consumption. You are already a bit fatigued during the menstrual period, and drinking alcohol while on your period will only make the matter worse. Drinking alcohol can also increase the period flow and cause you to lose even more blood.

Do you have any tips for getting through this time of the month? Comment below and let me know.
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