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    Which Foods to Eat and Avoid During Your Period

    Updated 03 February 2023 |
    Published 07 December 2018
    Fact Checked
    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist
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    It’s hard to predict exactly how you’ll feel during your period. While some people barely have any symptoms, others struggle to get out of bed thanks to cramping, headaches, pain, and nausea. Today, Flo reveals the top foods to eat during your period to alleviate swelling, bloating, mood swings, and much more.

    Foods to eat during your period

    If your period calculator predicts your next next bleed is just around the corner and you want to be prepped to stave off the usual premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms you experience, tweaking your diet could be one way to tackle it. When the PMS hits, try one of these healthy options to help ease your symptoms: 

    PMS - be prepared

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    If your period calculator predicts your next next bleed is just around the corner and you want to be prepped to stave off the usual premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms you experience, tweaking your diet could be one way to tackle it. When the PMS hits, try one of these healthy options to help ease your symptoms: 


    Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, this fish is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which relax the uterus and fight cramps. Consider making a meal of grilled salmon or salmon sushi for a dose of high-quality protein and plenty of B vitamins.

    Dark chocolate

    You probably don’t need another excuse to eat some chocolate. It’s undoubtedly one of the most popular foods to eat during your period for numerous reasons. Loaded with antioxidants and magnesium, dark chocolate is a great comfort food. 

    Try to stick to plain dark chocolate as opposed to complex candy full of additives and other ingredients. These will only deliver empty calories with little to no health benefits. 

    However, it's still important to consume chocolate in moderation since even dark chocolate contains sugar and caffeine.


    Oats are a whole grain rich in calcium and vitamins A and B, and they’re also a great source of iron. One cup contains about 14 of your daily recommended 18 milligrams of iron. One study found that a higher intake of the type of iron found in oatmeal was associated with a lower risk of PMS symptoms. Oatmeal is also a great option if you have an upset stomach.

    Watermelons, figs, and plums

    The natural sugars found in these foods may satisfy cravings for something sweet. Additionally, these fruits are rich in vitamins that can help with bloating. Watermelon also has a high water content and can help keep your body hydrated, which will reduce swelling and bloating.


    A smart alternative to sugary treats, oranges, lemons, and limes are packed with fiber and vitamin C and can provide relief from mood swings and bloating. Meanwhile, their high water content also keeps you hydrated. 

    Combat PMS-related nausea and fatigue with a glass of lemon water or a (lightly sweetened or unsweetened) citrus smoothie. Moderation is key for getting a dose of feel-good energy without irritating your stomach. 

    Make healthy food choices

    Seeing the link between your symptoms and the food you eat can help you adjust your diet.


    The iron, fat-soluble nutrients, B vitamins, essential fatty acids, and protein in egg yolks do wonders for PMS. But if you have a sensitive stomach, avoid hard-boiled eggs, which can cause gas, bloating, and heartburn.


    Last on the list of foods to eat while on your period: chamomile tea. This soothing beverage can help relax your nerves and your uterus. It reduces the severity of cramps, squashes stress and anxiety, and even promotes better sleep.

    Foods to avoid during your period

    During menstruation, you’re simultaneously losing blood and undergoing rapid hormonal shifts. Opt for foods with ample nutrients like vitamins, minerals, water, protein, iron, and fiber. At the same time, try your best to avoid the following:

    Processed foods

    Canned foods, heavily processed meat, and other items made with chemicals and preservatives can make bloating and water retention worse. High levels of sodium are unhealthy at any time of the month, but they do even more damage during your period.

    Candy and snacks

    Satisfy your sweet tooth by choosing juicy fruit, and try to avoid sweet snacks. They contribute to bloating and gas, while delivering a short-term spike in blood sugar. A brief sugar high inevitably leads to a major crash, leaving you feeling worse than before.


    When you’re on your period, reduce or eliminate consumption of alcoholic beverages. Why is this important? The loss of blood at this time lowers your blood pressure, making you more vulnerable to alcohol’s side effects. It also aggravates fatigue and boosts menstrual flow.

    A woman craving for chocolate during her period

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    Spicy foods

    Already struggling with tiredness, intense bleeding, and cramps? Then eating spicy dishes may add gas and bloating to your list of ailments. 

    If you can’t bring yourself to give up spicy food, you might be better off opting for healthy options like fresh chilis. Furthermore, some studies suggest that cinnamon, turmeric, and fennel could help battle common PMS symptoms, but more research is required to determine if this is true. These spices and herbs may contain anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-hypertensive properties. Just practice portion control to prevent an upset stomach. Always talk to your health care provider before taking any herbs or supplements for your symptoms.

    FAQs: Which foods to eat during your period

    Why am I craving chocolate?

    Eating chocolate releases endorphins and serotonin, which regulate your mood and balance neuromediators, encouraging relaxation. After getting used to this positive reaction to chocolate, your body starts to crave it. It intensifies during your period because of hormonal shifts and the loss of blood and nutrients. 

    Consider swapping that chocolate bar with a serving of sliced fruit. If that doesn’t seem realistic, then opt for dark chocolate with less sugar when you really want to indulge.

    How does eating citrus affect your period?

    As mentioned, water with a twist of lemon increases your vitamin C intake and helps you stay hydrated. Fresh-squeezed juices and blended smoothies are awesome foods to eat on your period as long as you minimize the sugar content. Fruit contains plenty of natural sugars, so there’s no need to add more.

    What happens if you eat spicy foods?

    Each person is unique, and some claim that spicy foods actually fight period pain. On the other hand, those with a sensitive digestive system report feeling nauseous and bloated after consuming spicy foods. Scientists have yet to confirm or deny either of these claims.

    Make healthy food choices

    Seeing the link between your symptoms and the food you eat can help you adjust your diet


    There is an abundance of delicious foods to eat while on your period to get you through the monthly pain and discomfort. To aid digestion and regain what’s being lost during menstruation, avoid sugary, salty, and fatty treats and pick heart-friendly, high-fiber meals with tons of fruits and vegetables instead.

    When preparing vegetables, cooking them at a low to medium temperature will preserve as many nutrients as possible. Avoid deep-frying them or using too much butter or oil; instead grill, roast, or steam them to maximize benefits.

    Lastly, don’t skip meals while on your period as this tends to aggravate nausea and fatigue. Choose natural, unprocessed products when possible, and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and manage your PMS symptoms effectively.


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    Hulsken, Sjoerd, et al. “Food-Derived Serotonergic Modulators: Effects on Mood and Cognition.” Nutrition Research Reviews, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2013,

    Barrett, Jacqueline S. “Extending Our Knowledge of Fermentable, Short-Chain Carbohydrates for Managing Gastrointestinal Symptoms.” Nutrition in Clinical Practice: Official Publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2013,

    Sharghi, Maedeh, et al. “An Update and Systematic Review on the Treatment of Primary Dysmenorrhea.” JBRA Assisted Reproduction, Brazilian Society of Assisted Reproduction, 31 Jan. 2019,

    “Dark Chocolate.” The Nutrition Source, 4 Nov. 2019,
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Dietary Fiber.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 18 Dec. 2019,

    Clark, Ruth. “Anticancer Properties of Capsaicin Against Human Cancer.” Anticancer Research, 1 Mar. 2016,

    Khayat, Samira, et al. “Curcumin Attenuates Severity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 2015,

    History of updates

    Current version (03 February 2023)

    Reviewed by Kate Shkodzik, MD, Obstetrician and gynecologist

    Published (07 December 2018)

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