Are you one of the many women who suffer from menstrual cramps, bloating, fatigue and headaches during "that time of the month?"
Eating for easier periods
Because your diet plays a significant role in how you feel throughout your cycle, diet can be key in giving you relief from menstrual discomfort. Since no woman should have to suffer at any time of the month, here are a few diet tips for easier periods.
Eat healthy all month long
Instead of approaching your period with a curative attitude, think prevention first. Adopt a healthy diet based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, lean proteins and good-for-you fats to ward off menstrual issues before they even have a chance to develop. You'll feel better all month long and be more prepared mentally and physically to deal with discomforts if they happen to occur.
Try mini-meals to maintain your blood sugar level
Fatigue is a common menstrual complaint and can be easily remedied with adequate sleep and by eating six mini-meals instead of eating three large ones (or worse yet, skipping meals). Smaller meals eaten every three to four hours will keep your blood sugar and energy levels steady. Steady blood sugar levels also mean less crankiness and irritability.
Keep up on calcium
Calcium is an abundant mineral in your body that does more than ensure bone strength. This important mineral also regulates your cardiovascular and nervous system health and contributes to muscle function, sleep and moods. Aim for 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of calcium daily to combat cramping, depression, irritability and anxiety. Food sources of calcium include yogurt, cheese, milk and fortified orange juice.
Though the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming a maximum of 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, cut down on sodium consumption during the week before your period and while you're menstruating to help beat menstrual bloating. Eat fresh foods as much as possible and read labels on packaged goods to choose the brands with the lowest sodium per serving. Be sure to also drink eight (8-ounce) servings of water each day to help counter bloating and keep you healthfully hydrated.
Fiber is a super-nutrient found in the healthiest of foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds). Fill up modestly on fiber-rich foods and you'll not only meet the recommended 25 grams of fiber intake per day, you'll also nourish your body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytonutrients that promote overall health. Adequate fiber can help regulate your cycle, help you maintain a healthy weight and aid in balancing your blood sugar.
Get rid of the junk food
Forgoing junk food is sound advice any time of the month but is especially important in the week leading up to and during your period. A diet high in sugar and fat can cause and intensify menstrual issues. Fast food and junk foods are also high in sodium, which only contributes to menstrual misery. If you happen to have a junk food habit, ditching it during your period may be the first step toward eliminating junk food from your diet all month long.
Regardless of where you are in your menstrual cycle, start making these dietary changes today to help you have an easier period.
More on women's health
The opinions expressed in this article are of the author and the author alone. They do not reflect the opinions of SheKnows, LLC or any of its affiliates and they have not been reviewed by an expert in a related field or any member of the SheKnows editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. Content and other information presented on the Site are not a substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on SheKnows. SheKnows does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.