1. HONOR YOUR CRAVINGS
First thing is first, girlfriend, if you are craaaaving a food… EAT IT! When we ignore our cravings our bodies will want to eat it even MORE. And when we finally bite into that big, juicy burger or that creamy chocolate bar our bodies will say “OMG, she is letting me have this! I better have as much as I can before it’s not allowed again!” Instead, grab some chocolate. Eat it mindfully. Allow yourself to enjoy it. And move on!
2. LISTEN TO HUNGER AND FULLNESS
When you’re deciding what to eat during periods & PMS it’s key to listen to your hunger and fullness. Eating some chocolate? Evaluate where you’re at on the hunger scale before going back for more. Are you actually satisfied? Would it feel better to wait to have more until your tummy has some more room? Remind yourself you can eat XYZ whenever you want, no need to stock up on it now!
3. BE AWARE OF EMOTIONAL EATING
Try not to eat your feelings, girlfriend. I know emotional eating is tempting to do “I feel so crummy just let me have ice cream to feel better!” but how will that solve anything? Instead, ask yourself “What do I need right now?” Are you in need of comfort? Stress or anxiety relief? What could you do to work through that need without turning to food. Decide on something, put it in action, and then re-evaluate if you’re still wanting the food. If so, eat it and do so mindfully! Remember, we don’t want to restrict!
WHAT ARE THE BEST FOODS TO EAT ON YOUR PERIOD?
Even though I don’t believe in sticking to specific diets, I DO believe that nutrition can still play a role in your food choices… it just can’t be the sole decision maker for you food choices. It’s a “balance” between what your body is wanting and asking for and what your brain knows about nutrition.
Alright, let’s just right into the moment you’ve been waiting for. What are the best foods to eat on your period that I recommend?!
WHAT TO EAT ON YOUR PERIOD FOR ENERGY
EAT ENOUGH FOOD!
This one is simple. You need to be eating enough food. Our hormones change throughout our period. Estrogen is at it’s lowest, which is an appetite suppressant. So, if that is low, our appetite is likely to be higher.
The metabolic rate (how much energy your body need and is burning, in order to function) decreases as you go through mensuration. This is due to multiple reasons, but one is that estrogen is rising. You might notice that after your period you might not have that same ravenous appetite.
My point here is: eat. And eat enough. If we don’t we’re likely to swing from one end of the hunger scale (hangry) to the other end of the hunger scale (stuffed) and back and forth and back and forth. And, well, that doesn’t feel super great does it? And you body can’t function optimally there, either.
FOODS TO EAT ON YOUR PERIOD FOR A BETTER MOOD
Curcurmin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has been studied in women with PMS and shows to help with mood related symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, anxiety, depression, sadness, crying, and feelings of isolation as well as behavioral symptoms, such as fatigue, lack of energy, insomnia, trouble with concentration, and appetite changes. It also may have an anti-inflammatory affect, which can help with muscle cramps you may be experiencing. This is due to the impact that turmeric has on our neurotransmitters and inflammatory response.
You can add turmeric to smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, etc. Consuming turmeric with black pepper and also a source of fat can help increase the bioavailability of the curcrumin. Basically, it always your body to USE it, not just ingest it then pee it out. I.E. Waste money, time and energy!
NON-HEME IRON SOURCES
Firstly, non-heme iron sources is a big word for “plant based iron sources”. During 0your period, let’s be real, we lose a lot of blood. A common cause of iron deficiency anemia is heavy bleeding during your periods. Studies have found that iron deficiency anemia may impact women’s physical performance, cognitive function, mood, and overall quality of life.
So, try incorporating non-heme iron during PMS and during your period. Some ways to do this are by eating things like beans, spinach, dark chocolate (oh yes!) or enriched breads or cereals.
WHAT TO EAT ON YOUR PERIOD FOR CRAMPS
Bananas can help with cramping & bloating- very very common things we deal with on our periods. This is due to the fact that they contain vitamin b6 and also potassium. So, grab yourself maybe some whole grain toast (bonus points if its enriched with iron!) slather it with some peanut butter and top with a sliced banana.
Well I’m so glad we mentioned PB because it’s the next on my list! Peanut butter also contains vitamin b6, but also magnesium. These two together has been shown to reduce those PMS symptoms like moodiness and cramping.
Magnesium can also regulate serotonin, that feel good hormone, which is low during our periods.
I would recommend eating this during your period, but also when you’re PMS-ing. The fats in the peanut butter will be really great for you since our estrogen levels, remember, are low initially and therefore insulin sensitivity is, too. So the mono & poly unsaturated fats found in peanut butter may help to stabilize your blood sugars.
BEST TEA FOR MENSTRUAL CRAMPS
Grab yourself a cup of tea! Chamomile has been used to treat PMS relief because of therapeutic properties such as anti-inflammatory effects, anti-spasmodic effects, and also bonus points for it’s anti-anxiety effects!
FOODS TO PREVENT PERIOD PAIN BEFORE IT STARTS
CHOOSE SOURCES OF CALCIUM & VITAMIN D TOGETHER
Higher intakes of vitamin D have been linked to lower PMS symptoms. Specifically, you want to look for sources of calcium & vitamin d together. Calcium & vitamin D together also help to strengthen our bones in addition to preventing- not just treating, PMS.
During your period remember estrogen levels are low, and low estrogen levels can contribute to bone loss. Now this drop in estrogen is normal, but it’s still important to give your body the calcium and vitamin D it needs.
Dairy products are a really great source of calcium and vitamin D. Heck, make yourself that turmeric golden milk with milk and BOOM, ya got a period powerhouse there!
Or you can take some salmon (high in vitamin D) and pair it with spinach which will give you the calcium you’re looking for. Plus, remember we talked about earlier spinach also has non-heme iron. BOOM. Another period powerhouse. I have a delicious recipe for a spinach blueberry salad that you could throw the salmon on top of- divine! There is actually come cottage cheese in the salad, too (don’t knock it till you try it!) which would be a double whammy for the calcium and vitamin D.
MY FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST FOODS TO EAT ON YOUR PERIOD
My final words of advice are to listen to your own body. Use these tip as a form of gentle nutrition, not a diet prescription. Obviously every single body is different and you are the expert of yours!
If your period comes are you’re like “The last thing I feel like eating is a banana and peanut butter” Don’t! Satisfaction and honoring what our bodies DO want is huge, too. Nutrition isn’t everything. That can cause stress, anxiety, etc. which, honestly, can be WORSE for our health than the “health benefits” of the “healthy” foods you’re eating. Remember that!
Let me know in the comments what foods you’ll plan to eat on your next period and also let me know if you like the topic of periods and women’s health!