For some women, their period is just another bodily function, no different than breathing or digestion, but for some of us it can debilitating. It can be a time of pain, unwanted changes to our appearance, and mood swings galore. When it gets really bad you may feel turning to over the counter medicine and prescription drugs are your only options for relief. Fortunately, there are many ways we can use food to relieve and even eliminate PMS symptoms.
I love using myself as a guinea pig. After growing tired of taking Aleve and missing out on life for two days every month for 15 years, I decided to use my knowledge of nutrition to manage the pain and nausea that had become a regular part of my life.
The first thing I did was stop dreading that time of month. I strongly believe there's a connection between our thoughts and words and our health. Science agrees. Ever heard of a little thing called the placebo effect? That's pretty much positive thinking in action. If people believe something strong enough it can and often does affect them. I started talking about being a woman and my uterus positively. It worked. I'm serious.
Next, I cut out the foods linked to inflammation. Gone were my favorite premenstrual cravings: french fries and candy (maybe not gone... But I definitely eat less fries and candy than before.)
Finally, I focused on including (even more) anti-inflammatory foods, drinks, and spices. My thinking was NSAIDs, like aspirin and ibuprofen, relieve pain by dampening inflammation so anti-inflammatory foods can do the same. Homemade fruit and veggie smoothies with a hand full of nuts or whole grain cereal flavored with nuts, fruit, cinnamon, and flax seeds became my breakfasts of choice.
Green tea, as well as ginger turmeric tea, began to make regular appearances in my drink rotation. Within one month of making these changes the pain was drastically reduced and the nausea was gone. I stayed on track for two months then I went back to my normal habits, which really weren't that bad but clearly they weren't right for my body. The pain and stomach issues came back with a vengeance. Lesson learned.
Overall, a plant based diet seems to help with PMS symptoms. Are you noticing a trend?
Below are some nutrition and lifestyle tips to beat three common PMS symptoms.
- Exercise. Working out helps to move fluid through your body and you will eliminate some of the extra fluid through sweat. Even though extra water may seem to be the problem you still need to make sure to drink enough water when working out (and in general.) You already know the rule: 8 cups or divide your weight in pounds by 2, then drink that number in ounces. Example: 120 lb/ 2=60 lbs, drink 60 oz.
- Cut back on the salt. Eating too much sodium can add to swelling. Be careful of high sodium foods like prepackaged processed foods and snacks. If you decide to eat canned foods, choose low sodium or no sodium added varieties.
- Include flax seeds in your diet. Flax seeds have been shown to relieve breast pain. They can be added to salad, smoothies, cereal-both hot and cold, and baked goods.
- Ramp up your intake of anti-inflammatory foods, drinks, and spices such as:
- Cold Water Fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Spices such as: turmeric, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper
- Green tea, turmeric, and ginger tea
If you find your PMS symptoms are interfering with your normal routine see a gynecologist in addition to making changes to your diet. I hope the above helps you as much as it helped me.