During your period your body sheds its uterine lining. This natural process can cause bothersome symptoms, from depressive moods and irritability to painful cramps, breast tenderness and bloating. A healthy diet can go a long way toward minimizing these effects particularly if you emphasize nutritious foods, and limit problematic ones. If your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, seek guidance from your doctor.
Caffeinated Foods and Beverages
Restricting your consumption of foods and beverages that contain caffeine can help relieve menstrual symptoms. Caffeine-containing foods and beverages, such as chocolate, coffee, tea and soft drinks, worsen symptoms such as anxiety, depression and breast tenderness, according to James F. Balch and Mark Stengler, authors of “Prescription for Natural Cures.” In addition, many energy drinks contain caffeine. Instead, focus on drinking herbal teas and plenty of water to keep your body properly hydrated.
Refined grains lose much of the original grain’s nutrient content during food processing. As a result they can interfere with blood sugar and appetite control between meals – factors that can worsen menstrual symptoms. For reduced menstrual pain, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends limiting refined foods, such as white bread, enriched pasta and sugary sweets, and opting for whole grains instead. Other common refined grain products include instant rice, low-fiber cereals, pretzels and commercially prepared cookies, cakes and pastries.
Keeping salt intake under control can help you avoid bloating and the puffy, heavy feeling that comes with it. Avoiding processed foods is one of the best ways to control salt consumption because processed foods and convenience foods are typically packed with sodium. 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.
Fatty Meats and Dairy Products
The fats found in meats and dairy products are saturated. Similar to trans-fats, saturated fats can cause and worsen pain and inflammation during your period. The UMMC recommends eating more fish, lean meats and beans for protein for reduced pain. Avoiding high-fat cheese sauces, heavy cream, ice cream, meats with visible fat and dishes prepared with cheese or butter can also help.
Due to hormonal changes during menstruation, blood sugar levels become unstable, and many women crave sweets. 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.