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Which Foods to Eat and Avoid During Your Period

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.

If you’re experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS), try one of these healthy options to help ease your symptoms: 

Salmon

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 extra chocolate. It’s undoubtedly one of the most popular foods to eat during your period for numerous reasons. Loaded with antioxidants, 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. 

Oatmeal

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.

Citrus

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. 

Eggs

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.

Chamomile

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.

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.

Alcohol

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.

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.

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.

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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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, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26051565.

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