Females have nutrient needs just as unique as our bodies. When it comes to that infamous time of the month, many women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) tout serious food cravings, mood swings, and an ‘all bets are off’ mentality when it comes to monitoring caloric intake. Your monthly cycle, or the trials of whatever lifecycle stage you are currently in, shouldn’t completely derail your efforts towards creating a healthier lifestyle. Here are some foods that can hinder and foods that can help keep those wayward female symptoms in check (or at least more tolerable):
Foods to avoid:
- Caffeine:Yes, you are more tired than usual but caffeine is a stimulant that may induce
irritability, anxiety, depression, nervousness, headaches and insomnia so switch up to some herbal teas. Try to avoid coffees, teas, and soda pops. If you can’t cut it out altogether at least try to reduce your intake for those few days a month.
- Sodium/Salt: Salt increases sodium retention and can worsen PMS associated bloating. High amounts of salt are found in processed foods, salted snacks, canned foods, cured meats, condiments like ketchup and mustard, frozen dinners, or boxed food mixes like mac and cheese. If you’ve overindulged on that bag of chips try to counter the sodium with a good source of potassium like tomatoes, citrus fruits, bananas, or dark leafy greens.
- Alcohol: Even though you may feel like imbibing to take the edge off, alcohol actually makes PMS symptoms worse by altering blood glucose levels and hindering the absorption of nutrients like magnesium, zinc and some B vitamins – all which are needed most during this time.
- High fat: Eating high fat foods can also exacerbate PMS symptoms so cut back on fried foods, pastries, donuts, and processed foods. Opt for heart healthy fats instead like salmon, avocado, and unsalted nuts.
Foods to munch:
- Mighty Magnesium: Not only does magnesium help reduce PMS symptoms; it also helps regulate serotonin (mood regulator) levels and reduce water retention. Good food sources include brown rice, peanut butter, and whole grain bread in addition to sunflower seeds, wild caught salmon, spinach, cashews, and thankfully-dark chocolate.
- Calming Calcium: Calcium is not just for bone health, as it has been shown in studies to help reduce cramps and other PMS symptoms. Although milk, yogurt, and cheese are good sources, so are dark leafy green, kale, chickpeas, and white beans.
- It’s as easy as A, B, E:
–Vitamin A: Is an unsung warrior against PMS and is found in some yummy comfort foods like sweet potatoes, eggs, carrots, cantaloupe, mango, apricots, and peas
-The B’s: B vitamins are often overlooked when it comes to combating female symptoms but they can provide a wealth of benefits, especially vitamin B6 so be sure to include foods like whole grains, lean poultry and beef, potatoes with the skin, bananas, and pistachios (unsalted)
–Vitamin E: Mostly known for heart health, studies have found that vitamin E can help reduce not one but many common PMS symptoms and is found in foods like avocado, asparagus, unsalted almonds, hazelnuts, whole grains, eggs, and seeds
A few general rules:
- Drink plenty of water to help reduce water retention – seems counterintuitive but it helps!
- Eat in regular intervals throughout the day going no longer than 3-4 hours without having a snack that includes a lean protein source and/or fiber. Think smaller portions more frequently to help keep cravings at bay.
- Keep carbohydrates complex – drops in blood sugar during menses have you reaching for refined carbs but this only makes things worse. You’re better off with a low-fat, low sugar fiber bran muffin than a cookie or brownie
- Try a good quality women’s multivitamin – everyday
- Be sure to talk to your doctor about your symptoms if you are concerned
- Find some me time and do something nice for yourself even if it’s taking 15 minutes to read a book, magazine, or just relax in quiet- that’s one craving to indulge in!
DON’T FORGET TO EXERCISE!!!
Even though you may not feel like it, studies show that regular physical exercise relieves symptoms in many PMS sufferers. It improves lymphatic circulation, cardiovascular health, and production of endorphins (the “happiness chemicals”) for reduced comfort-eating.