We’ve already covered the food and drinks that it’s best to avoid during your period, but what about those foods you can eat on your period, those that might make it more bearable? We’ve got you covered there, too.
But while this way of eating might be especially helpful every 28 days or so, there’s no quick fix: you’ll need to stick to it all month for best effect, and it might take a few weeks or months for you to notice a difference in symptoms.
The upside? You don’t have to wait until you’re PMS-ing to get started.
Here’s some foods to eat on your period; what you can add to your diet ASAP so you can have a happier, healthier time of the month…
Raises your levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin – but more gently than unrefined carbs like white rice or fries. Contains magnesium, which prevents water retention, vitamin B6, which the body needs to make dopamine (another mood-booster) and manganese, which helps prevent PMS. Quinoa, oats, and wholemeal pasta have similar benefits.
Like all leafy greens, spinach is a great source of iron, which you need to thwart lethargy, especially when you’re losing blood. It also contains magnesium and vitamin B6, as well as vitamin E – which can reduce the chance of cramps.
During your period, red meat can give you a nice boost of iron – essential if you’re anemic or feel extra tired around this time. Pick the leanest version you can, though, and eat home-made burgers and lasagne rather than ready meals – fatty meat increases prostaglandins, substances in the body that trigger cramping.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon ease inflammation (and thus pain), help keep your periods regular, and are full of vitamin D, which can reduce PMS. A couple of servings of salmon or other oily fish a week is ideal. (Tinned tuna doesn’t count, but the fresh stuff does, or try mackerel or sardines.)
NUTS AND SEEDS
Healthy fats in nuts and seeds help the body absorb vitamins – essential for hormone regulation. Almonds are high in calcium, which can reduce pain and bloating, while Brazil nuts are a great source of magnesium. And tiny sunflower seeds pack a big punch: Iron for energy, vitamin E to help reduce breast swelling, and tryptophan, which can increase pain tolerance.
BEANS AND PULSES
Beans and pulses are powerhouses when it comes to period nutrition (and yes, also when it comes to releasing gas – but pre-soaking can help with that). They’re high in magnesium, vitamin B6, and manganese and can be easily added to all kinds of stews and casseroles to reduce pain and give your mood a kick.
Chocolate is a common period craving, but milk chocolate is full of sugar and caffeine, which can unbalance your blood sugar and leave you feeling jittery. Seek out choc with at least a 70% cocoa content instead, and eat alongside some protein or after meals to avoid a sudden slump in mood or energy.
Water is a refreshing beverage at any time, but it’s especially important during your period. Being dehydrated will only make cramps worse, and counter-intuitively, drinking water also prevents water retention, so don’t stop sipping just because you feel bloated.
Of course, we all give in to our cravings now and then, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you make choices from this list a little more often, you might find that your periods become a little easier to cope with – and that cravings, cramps, and other side effects become less of an issue in the future.