“I feel great!”, said literally no one who was bleeding out of their vagina, ever in the history of periods.
Despite what most traditional period product commercials would have you believe, we don’t bleed blue liquid and play tennis in white skirts when we’re on our periods. But you know that. Periods bring some really unpleasant side effects along with them. Some are worse than others (looking at you, cramps!) but, in general, they aren’t feelings that we’d wish on anyone - even that one ex who ghosted us and then posted on Instagram.
Because, real talk, premenstrual symptoms can make you go from total queen to quivering pile of mush in 2 seconds flat. As true as that may be, there’s no reason to let your period take over your body every month. By adding in some key nutrients to your diet, you’ll be well on your way to being the reigning ruler of your uterus and banishing the yucky side effects that occur during her monthly tantrum. Here’s a rundown of the most common PMS symptoms and the foods you can eat to ease them.
To fight a case of insomnia
Nothing brings a night of tossing and turning quite like the fluctuating hormones that accompany your period. To make matters worse, not getting enough sleep could make you more susceptible to pain. So how can you get more ZZZ’s when you’re PMSing? It could be as easy as eating foods that contain melatonin like pineapples, bananas, tomatoes, or barley. Melatonin is a hormone that you produce naturally and is directly correlated with healthy production of reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. Eating foods that contain it could mean a night of dreaming, instead of being up watching bad Real Housewives reruns all night.
Try this recipe: Mango Pineapple Smoothie Bowl
To boost your mood
Do you get moody when you’re on your period? What about the week before? You’re definitely not alone in that. Even the small things can feel so irritating but, have no fear, there is a solution. And it involves food. You in? Good. Boosting your intake of complex carbohydrates and Omega-3’s can make you feel so much better. Whether you’re dealing with PMS-induced depression, anxiety, or just a little short-tempered, these nutrients will do you good.
Omega-3’s are a fatty acid that function similar to antidepressants, boosting your serotonin levels (that’s a happiness hormone!) and lifting your spirits. Complex carbs, like green vegetables, lentils, and whole wheat pasta, boost serotonin, too. They also give you a steady supply of energy, which can help ease cravings.
Try this recipe: Lentil ‘Meatballs’
To beat the bloat
If you’re like many people who find that their period makes them bloated, you’re going to want to load up on the fiber. Seems counterintuitive, right? While fiber does fill you up, it can also help move things along, so to speak. And no, I’m not telling you to drink a glass of Metamucil (ya know, the weird orange drink that most of our grandparents drank after dinner?). Some yummy fiber-rich options are broccoli, brussel sprouts, and artichokes. Nom nom. Oh? And stay away from the salt. It’ll only make your bloating worse.
Try this recipe: Roasted Broccoli
To clear your skin
Hormones do more than just affect your mood. They can cause your skin to break out a la freshman year of high school. Clear up that hormonal acne with a healthy dose of Vitamin A. This vitamin is fat-soluble, meaning it gets stored in your tissue. It also fights double duty, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Dark, leafy greens are the easiest source of this miracle vitamin. A big salad or some sauteed greens will do the trick!
Try this recipe: Sauteed Kale with Apples
To ward off cravings
This pesky symptom of PMS needs no explanation. We all have cravings, as varied as they may be. And, though we try, temptation often gets the better of us and we’re left with a mouth full of regret and a bed full of Oreo crumbs. Oh, just me? Anyways, cravings are a pretty normal part of PMSing but can be kept at bay by eating a breakfast rich in protein and healthy fats. Even if you’re not someone who wants to eat a big meal first thing in the morning, starting the day with a good breakfast can help you combat cravings all day. Think: eggs, cottage cheese, or a pronut.
Try this recipe: Skinny Greek Omelet
To soothe that headache
Menstrual migraines are no joke. Headaches before or during your period often happen due to low levels of estrogen. And since there’s nothing you can do about fluctuating hormones, you can take back control of your brain space by adding some headache-fighting foods to your menu. Foods rich in magnesium are ideal because the super-nutrient can affect the chemicals and receptors in your brain. Beans, nuts, and leafy greens are all great sources of magnesium. Whether you chow down on some cashews (they contain 83 mg of magnesium per 1 oz) or whip up a scrumptious dessert with dark chocolate (95 mg per square!), your brain will thank you.
Try this recipe: Flourless Black Bean Avocado Brownies
To calm your cramps
What kind of person would I be if I didn’t tell you how to eat your way to a cramp-free period? Ok, your cramps may not completely disappear but I can tell you that any combination of the above nutrient rich foods will set you on a path to a better period. So ditch the Nutter Butter’s and whip yourself up a healthy meal. You’ll be feeling great in no time!