Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (or PMS for the uninitiated) can blind side you. One month you’re cruising along with no symptoms and then BAM! the next you’re feeling irritable, bloated, spotty and generally under the weather.
Exercise is one of the ways that helps elevate PMS – with 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise like walking – but there are times when you can’t drag yourself off the couch, let alone to the gym, so what do you do on those days? Well, you could try some comfort eating… here are some dietary tweaks that can you try to help with those dastardly PMS symptoms?
Table of contents
- Snack on nuts
- Combine food groups when snacking
- Limit caffeine and alcohol
- Reduce salt
- Eat complex carbs
- Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
- Drink plenty of water
- The final word
Snack on nuts
Instead of reaching for a bag of crisps or that chocolate bar, snack on unsalted, raw nuts. Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and help you feel full longer, not to mention they have a plethora of heart benefits. Try a variety of nuts like pecans, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E and Magnesium, which research has shown can help with muscle cramps; so potentially elevate menstrual cramps.
Combine food groups when snacking
Examples of tasty and healthy food combos include an apple with one to two tablespoons of peanut butter or dark chocolate and avocado! Whilst you might not think of putting avo and dark chocolate together, all of the foods mentioned above contain some whopping amounts of magnesium. As we’ve learn previously magnesium can potentially help relieve cramps. Here’s a great way to combine the two if you don’t fancy a chocolate and avo smoothie – Customizable Dark Chocolate and Avocado Truffles.
Limit caffeine and alcohol
These are two of the most popular go-to hits available when you want that instant pic-me-up or to relax, but they are both detrimental where PMS is concerned as they both disturb sleep either by sleeping too much or too little. If you want to limit these affects drink alcohol with your meal only and stick within the safe daily unit numbers! And have your last caffeinated drink – coffee, tea, cola etc. – SIX hours before you are ready to hit the hay.
Cook your own food rather than eating fast food or processed food because salt, like sugar, is hidden in a thousand places, such as cooked meats, bacon and other cured products, canned soup, pizza and sodium-filled bread. Eating less salt is particularly recommended if you experience bloating and breast tenderness.
Eat complex carbs
Complex carbohydrates consist of three or more natural sugars and are rich in fibre. These foods maintain even blood sugar by entering the bloodstream gradually, which can, in turn, help stabilize your mood and keep anxiety, irritability and keep cravings under control. Add things like wholegrain bread, brown rice, sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, lentils, potatoes and oats to your diet.
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables
You want to keep your B vitamins up so focus on leafy greens. Think “eating from the rainbow” by consuming lots of different types and colours to take in as many nutrients as you can. Veggies such as kale, spinach and Swiss chard are rich in both iron and B vitamins, which is good news for those that don’t eat meat, but still need to keep their iron levels up.
Drink plenty of water
What list would be complete without WATER? Ideally, you would be drinking 2 litres of water a day to help reduce bloating and aid in digestion. I know it sound counter intuitive to drink water to reduce bloating, but the more you drink the more you pee and that’s how bloating is reduced. If you’re not a fan of water, try drinking fruit teas or carbonated flavoured water; provided it doesn’t contain any added caffeine or sugar. You also get creative with your water and add lemons, cucumber or orange slices to it. Or why not try ginger slices in hot or cold water for that extra zing.
The final word
With the best will in the world, sometimes eating healthy and sleeping well doesn’t have the desired affect, and sometimes you do have to take painkillers for the cramps. For those of you that feel anxious, overwhelmed or depressed and are putting it down to PMS, have a chat to your GP, just to make sure that it is PMS and not perhaps something more