Periods are a very natural part of a woman’s life. They come along with a group of physical, behavioral and emotional changes in our body. So like an un-welcomed guest who visits you every month, they frequently challenge our tolerance and sanity.
During Periods your body has to go through a lot. The uterus contracts to help expel its lining. These uterine and abdominal muscle contractions are caused by certain hormones called prostaglandins. The increased levels of propagandist can lead to a set of menstrual problems, which are commonly known as Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). Mood swings, bloating, abdominal pain, sore breast, acne, sugar cravings, diarrhea, headaches, fatigue, changes in sleep patterns, anxiety, depression, sadness, emotional outbursts; all of these are common symptoms of PMS among the women of child bearing age group.
You can prepare your body against these PMS symptoms in many ways; one of the easiest among them is simply by maintaining a healthy and balanced diet. A little modification in your diet can shoo away all your period pain. Here we enlist a few period friendly foods that you must include in your diet.
Starting from the basic, we advise you to drink plenty of water. Water is certainly the best gift of nature to the mankind, and doctors recommend everyone to drink 8-10 glasses per day. Drinking a lot of water, during periods, is very effective to alleviate bloating. Also, keeping yourself well hydrated will relieve you from water retention and will solve your acne problem as well.
2. Green Leafy Vegetables
Healthy diet of green leafy vegetables like broccoli, celery, spinach, beans, etc. brings relief as these vegetables offer strong resistance to lot of period related problems. They are rich in minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, which provide relief from menstrual cramps by reducing the contractions. They are also a good source of iron and hence are good at avoiding anemia. Their calming properties help well in dealing with emotional outburst, anxiety and irritability. Also their high fibre content makes them good enough in treating digestive issues, which are often associated with periods. Dark green vegetables are also a good source of vitamin K, which helps to overcome excessive bleeding by coagulating blood.
During menstrual days strong sugar craving is a common problem. Fruits like apples, pear, berries and melons are healthier substitutes to sugar and their macro and micro nutrients help you to overcome period induced weakness. Pineapple and raw papaya are good options for those who suffer from irregular periods as they can induce menstruation. Pineapples also contain an enzyme called bromelain which is a great muscle relaxant. Bananas can also be good choice among fruits as they are a rich source of potassium. They can also regulate the bowel movements and their vitamin B6 can reduce cramping. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C in citrus fruits can also lead you to the better absorption of Iron, which is very necessary after significant blood loss during menstruation.
4. Nuts & seeds
Nuts and seeds are highly recommended during periods. Nature has endowed them with lots of protein, omega 3 fatty acid, zinc, calcium, magnesium and essential vitamin & nutrients. They provide you energy endurance without spiking your blood sugar levels. Munching on nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, flax seeds, carom seeds and pumpkin seeds may reduce cramping due to their muscle relaxant properties. So replacing junk food with nuts and seeds is not only a healthier option for your food cravings but it can also help you to combat many PMS symptoms as well. Dates are also beneficial as they are an excellent source of iron and can come handy.
5. Wholegrain Food
Eat whole grains like wholegrain bread, brown rice, and oats etc. They provide valuable amounts of iron, calcium and fibre without being too heavy on your stomach. They are also full of Complex carbohydrates which reduce water retention in your body and promote the production of serotonin — the feel-good brain chemical — which helps you to deal with your mood swings. These carbs can keep your energy levels up for longer duration. Whole grains are also rich in vitamin B6 which alleviates PMS.
You are going to love this part of your diet during periods. During these days it is recommended to have a small piece of dark chocolate (with 60 percent or higher cacao bean) every day, as it has antioxidants and is good at increasing serotin. They are also a good source of magnesium which is ideal to treat headaches, bloating, breast tenderness, fluid retention, and is also needed for adequate absorption of the calcium.
With a fair idea of all these period friendly foods, let us now focus our attention on foods to avoid during menstruation.
Say a complete NO to all fried, sugary, salty and unhealthy food. Consuming processed and canned food can cause bloating due to high amounts of sodium in them. Avoid alcohol, soda & caffeinated drinks as they can worsen cramps and may also dehydrate your body. However, one may opt for a decaffeinated version of tea. In fact some varieties of tea like ginger tea, peppermint tea or chamomile tea are a good cure for PMS as they provide relief from nausea, cramping, anxiety and bloating. It is also recommended to limit the intake of dairy products and red meat during periods as both contain saturated fats.
The best strategy is to go for smaller and healthier meals instead of one heavy meal, as it may make you sluggish and cause mood swings. You should gradually introduce these changes into your diet so that you may not end up over stressing your body. The mantra is to “keep it simple by getting back to basics”. Let food be your medicine and stay hale and hearty all through the month.
Happy Living Happy Eating!!
A full time work from home mother, she utilises her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to. Trust Aafiya to provide apt advice on diet mechanism, nutritional facts and common home remedies.
Away from writing, Aafiya is statistics post graduate, has worked earlier in the field of Research & Education and loves travelling.