healthy eatingThe days leading up to your menstrual period can be filled with uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, breast tenderness, bloating, food cravings and constipation or diarrhea. You may also experience pain caused by the physical act of menstruation, including cramping, bloating and headache.

When you’re on your period, it might help to frequently break up the three square meals into smaller portions. This will help reduce cravings and deal with any nausea or cramps associated with getting your period Also, avoiding certain foods leading up to and even during your period may help alleviate some of your discomfort. Here are a couple of them;

Cutting back on caffeine intake can help reduce bloating and calm an irritable stomach. Caffeine can increase stomach acid and be rough on sensitive intestines. Restricting your consumption of caffeinated foods and beverages would most definitely help relieve menstrual symptoms. Caffeine-containing foods and beverages, such as chocolate, coffee, tea and soft drinks, create other symptoms such as anxiety, depression and breast tenderness. You should instead focus on drinking herbal teas and plenty of water to keep your body properly hydrated.

Though salt is crucial to good health, bloating and water retention can occur if you overdo it. The best way to control salt intake is to avoid processed and fast foods, many of which contain three to four times the salt you should have in one meal. Instead, eat whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and poultry, nuts, whole grains and unsaturated fats like olive oil, which are naturally low in sodium and promote overall health.

Due to hormonal changes during menstruation, blood sugar levels become unstable, and many women crave sweet stuff. Eating foods high in sugar adds to your blood sugar fluctuations, resulting in mood swings and tension. In addition, consuming refined, sugar-rich foods can contribute to immune system imbalance and fatigue. Instead of reaching for a doughnut to satisfy your sweet tooth, have a fiber-rich fruit salad topped with low-fat yogurt instead.

Finally, do not forget your vitamins. Adding vitamin-friendly foods to your diet, especially during your cycle. Vitamin E can help eliminate some PMS symptoms; you’ll find it in avocado, hemp seeds and egg yolk. Vitamin B6 can help relieve bloating and boost your mood; find it in potatoes, bananas and oatmeal. Lastly, vitamin C and zinc support the health of a woman’s eggs and reproductive system. Find vitamin C in grapefruits and lemons and zinc in pumpkin seeds and squashes.