In the run up to the day your period calculator predicts your next period is due, you might start to notice some cramping. For some, it happens every month like clockwork, while for others premenstrual cramping is a bit more sporadic.
Either way, if you’re looking for the best food for period cramps, you've come to the right place. The top line? Choose light, healthy fruits and vegetables that won’t be heavy in your stomach. Fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help decrease inflammation in the body and can help menstrual cramps.
The great news is the best foods for period cramps can often be found in your fridge! Top health foods on this list are common and great choices when you’re looking for what to eat when you have cramps. There are plenty of foods that might help with menstrual cramps.
If you’re looking to adjust your diet and stock up on foods that might help with cramps, here are some to try:
Bananas are great for menstrual cramps.
Bananas are generally easy to find and known to be helpful for period cramps. They are rich in fiber and will help you have easy bowel movements. As a result, you may feel less bloated and experience less pain overall. Bananas also contain a lot of magnesium, which is known to reduce the severity of period cramps.
Bananas are also rich in natural sugars, so it’s best to eat them in moderation.
Lemons are rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from your food into your bloodstream and tissues. Because you may be losing more red blood cells than your body can keep up with during your period, it may be helpful to have some extra vitamin C to boost iron absorption. Lemons also contain a lot of fiber, which makes them a good food for preventing muscle spasms.
Oranges are known as a top food for period cramps. Oranges contain more vitamin C than lemons, and they also contain magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D. In fact, oranges have almost as much of these nutrients as milk. A couple of oranges every day may help relieve period cramps and menstrual pain.
Watermelon is light and sweet. You can easily pop it into a blender and create a delicious smoothie. In addition to that, it is mainly water. Watermelon will quickly hydrate your body and add small amounts of natural sugars into your bloodstream, which might help with cramping.
Broccoli is one of the top foods that help with menstrual cramps. The fiber and iron in broccoli help fight period cramps. These nutrients might help with all menstrual pain, particularly in your lower abdomen.
Among the other healthy foods that relieve cramps, kale is also a great option. Kale is a good food for period cramps for the same reason as broccoli and other greens: it is rich in calcium and magnesium. Having a calcium deficiency can increase muscle spasms and contractions.
You can saute kale or add it to a smoothie. Either way, this vegetable might help boost your immune system and ease cramping pains.
What makes food so powerful in helping relieve period cramps? Nutrients in certain foods directly affect your hormones, nerves, and muscles. They can have a relaxing effect, which can result in both a better mood and less pain.
You can use food to ease muscle spasms, but beverages can be effective as well. Here are a couple of drinks that help with cramps:
Chamomile tea is a great beverage for menstrual cramps. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which further reduce cramping pains. Chamomile tea may also help with your mood, as it has a soothing impact on the nervous system.
In addition to easing cramping pains, ginger tea can also help with nausea and bloating. Ginger is also known to be a good coffee replacement, as it can energize you and help you feel more awake.
Raspberry leaf tea is not only tasty, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce period cramps.
Apple and spinach smoothies contain plenty of iron and magnesium, which are both responsible for nourishing the body quickly and relieving cramps and fatigue. During your period, you can experience fatigue, and it’s good to have as many foods as possible that are rich in iron and fiber, like leafy greens.
Magnesium found in bananas and some leafy greens can help relax your muscles, including your uterus. Mixing your favorite period-friendly fruits and veggies into a nourishing smoothie should definitely be on your to-do list.
A lot of foods that you normally eat don’t help with period cramps. Here’s a list of foods that make cramps worse:
Canned foods can be high in salt, which causes more bloating and cramping. In addition, they may have fewer nutrients. Refined products can also contain high amounts of unhealthy chemicals used to preserve the foods. So when you’re on your period, stick to healthy, fresh options.
Normally healthy and rich in fiber and vitamins, beans can upset your stomach during your period. It’s better to avoid eating beans or peas during your period and opt for lighter foods instead.
Candy usually doesn’t contain any healthy nutrients, and it’s also packed with sugar. Artificial sugar doesn’t help at all with period cramps. In fact, it can make them worse.
It’s better to avoid anything that will upset your stomach because your cramping pains may worsen at the same time. Fried foods are known to upset the stomach and interfere with healthy digestion. During your period, stick to lightly boiled, steamed, or grilled foods.
Milk and other dairy products can generally be healthy options. However, during your period, your body is particularly susceptible to inflammation. The saturated fats in dairy products can trigger inflammation, which can worsen your menstrual pain.
Nevertheless, the calcium in dairy products can help cramps by controlling your muscles’ nerve activity. Calcium deficiencies can increase muscle spasms. Depending on your needs, it might be a good idea to consume dairy products in moderation.
Foods like bacon contain lots of saturated fats, while some substances found in fatty dark meat increase prostaglandins in your body, which constrict blood vessels and make muscles contract. This only induces cramping pains, so it’s better to stick to lean meats instead.
Caffeine can worsen pelvic pain before or during your period. It can also stimulate stress and irritability.
Aside from choosing the right foods to eat during your period to avoid cramps, focus on having multiple, regular meals.
Try not to skip meals, as feeling hungry will only worsen the cramping pains. Make sure to drink enough water, because dehydration adds to muscle spasms, resulting in more intense cramping.
Be kind to your body during your period, get as much rest as you can, and stay comfortable whenever you don’t have to be active.