It’s important to recognise why you’re craving certain foods during menstruation and how you can get the most out of your diet to ease cramps & promote a healthy period. You can try these foodie tips to help ease any uncomfortable symptoms of your period.
Before Your Period
A week before your period is due, you should be filling your tummy with foods that are rich in protein and high in healthy fats (think beans, pulses, and hemp for your protein-fix and avocados, nuts, and coconuts for the good fats). This will help to stabilise your sugar and carbohydrate cravings when your period starts.
If you are cramping heavily before your period starts, try consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as oranges & other citrus fruits, parsley, and cranberries. As a result from consuming high doses of vitamin C, higher concentrations of estrogen will be released in your body, prompting your period. Many women experience cramping before their periods, rather than during - if so, this may work a treat for you!
During Your Period
Making sure you stay hydrated during your cycle is often overlooked, but drinking enough water during your period will ease the symptoms of your period. Drinking 6-8 glasses of water a day will reduce water-retention, bloating, headaches, swollen breasts, and general discomfort. If you’re dehydrated, your body will crave salty and sweet foods, which can result in you making unhealthy snack choices. Opting for herbal teas or fruit-infused water have the benefit of additional vitamins (yay).
Magnesium is found to have natural muscle-relaxing properties, so consuming magnesium-rich foods will benefit you and ease your cramps. However, working out what our bodies want vs what they need isn't always clear. For example, you may be craving chocolate, but this is due to your body’s increased need for magnesium. Though cocoa beans are naturally high in magnesium, it is important to remember that processed chocolate bars contain little to no magnesium. Eating dark chocolate and unsweetened cocoa will increase your magnesium intake. Oats, spinach, and pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium too, so if you incorporate these foods into your diet during menstruation, you could experience less cramping.
Natural muscle relaxers
Chamomile tea is known for its calming properties and will work to soothe menstrual cramps. Chamomile tea is naturally caffeine-free and will also contribute to your goal of drinking two litres of water per day, too!
Try adding a portion of cherries or blueberries to your diet during your period. In addition to being anti-oxidant superstars, they are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce pain.
Go bananas! "Why?" you may ask: well, bananas are a fantastic food to consume when you're menstruating. They're packed with vitamin B6 which helps to regulate blood-sugar levels & help to create haemoglobin - which then carries oxygen to the red blood cells in our body. Bananas are also a fantastic source of dietary fibre which can help ease constipation.
A period super-food is asparagus - and here’s why: because it is a diuretic, it will reduce your body’s level of water retention. Therefore, you’ll feel less bloated and less tempted to binge on unhealthy foods. Herbal teas - such as ginger and nettle - are excellent natural diuretics and will help ease the bloat, too.
During menstruation, you’ll be losing somewhere between 30ml to 60ml of blood. You can boost your iron intake by eating plenty of spinach, legumes (kidney beans & lentils), and quinoa. If you suffer from heavy periods (menorrhagia), your iron intake can be upped with the help of an iron supplement.
After Your Period
Once your monthly visitor has departed, it is not an excuse to start gorging on unhealthy foods in a self-congratulatory manner. If you can follow a healthy and balanced diet, you’ll find that your cramps will decrease over time. Leading a healthy lifestyle focused on intuitive eating can really help your physical and mental well-being.
Now that you know which foods you should be eating, head on over to our blog post on yoga poses to practice during your period. These poses are guaranteed to help relieve menstrual cramps, soothe muscle tension, and relax the body & mind.