When a woman thinks of that particular time of the month, a medley of unpleasant feelings probably come to mind. When you have your period, your body can go through ups and downs in mood swings due to hormonal shifts, and it's easy to feel sluggish and physically drained. However, there are ways to avoid cramping and bloating during our periods, and so it's critical to be mindful of these tricks to make the week a little less unbearable.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on boosting self-esteem and body-image, as well as regulating digestion and feeling less bloated, fatigued and sore throughout the day. The exercises or activities that we engage in, as well as what we eat, can affect our abilities to digest our food properly and decrease inflammation and bloat within the belly. When we have our periods, workouts can be more challenging, as we have less endurance than usual and can encounter cramps that can get in the way of meeting our fitness goals, said gynecologist Lauren Streicher in an interview with Cosmopolitan. Furthermore, our hormones can encourage us to be hungrier more often, and we tend to crave foods high in sugar and fats that can make us feel even more cramped, bloated and tired, said Jamé Heskett, M.D., author of The Well Path in an interview with Greatist. Look for these 11 things to do to avoid cramping and bloat during that time of the month.
1. Schedule A Workout
While working out might be more challenging on the body than usual, breaking a sweat can relieve bloat and help regulate bowel movements, which can become more irregular during our periods, said Lena Palmer, MD, gastroenterologist, assistant professor in the department of medicine, and medical director of nutritional services at Loyola University Chicago in interview with Everyday Health. Aim for lower to moderate intensity workouts to prevent injury.
2. Clean Up Your Diet
While giving in to temptations for baked goods and other sugary and fattening foods happens, as the cravings are often prevalent and intense during this time, sticking to a clean diet can help manage abdominal discomfort and bloat, advises healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines over email with Bustle. Plus, your metabolism is actually faster during your period, according to Shannon Clark with Bodybuilding.com, so eating a clean diet can even be beneficial for weight management.
3. Drink Lots Of Water
A great way to manage cravings and beat belly bloat is to stay hydrated during the day. Drinking water and tea throughout the day will reduce water retention and bloating, which can be high during a period, according to experts at MedlinePlus in conversation in Livestrong. Water can also hydrate sore muscles, leading to a decrease in muscle pain and cramping. Check in to make sure you're drinking throughout the day.
4. Eat Tummy-Taming Foods
There are some foods that can ease period symptoms, and eating some of these foods can help get rid of bloating in the stomach, says Karen Ansel, RD with Prevention. Such foods include Greek yogurt, almonds, spinach, and apples. Greek yogurt also contains probiotics, which can promote healthy gut flora in the body and lower inflammation, as is explained. These foods are high in fiber to help keep bowels regular, as well, as noted.
5. Do Something You Love
Taking time to enjoy an activity that brings you happiness can help reduce stress and enhance overall wellbeing. Yet, this effect is especially important during that time of the month, as excess cortisol or depressive symptoms can exacerbate bloating and cramping, according to Doctor Oz. When the mind is tense, the body feels it, and cortisol can promote fat storage, predominantly in the belly region, as explained.
6. Take Anti-Inflammatory Supplements
Taking fish oils during this time can help alleviate symptoms of cramping and bloating due to its relaxation, digestive and anti-inflammation effects, according to experts at The University Of Maryland Medical School. In addition, eating oily fish, such as salmon or tuna, walnuts, and seeds are great options to have in the day.
7. Get A Massage
Taking some time to pamper yourself and relax sore muscles can help alleviate pains from cramping and bloat, as well as boost intimacy with and love for your body, said Soul Connector Michelle Alva, Holistic Physical Therapist and Intuitive Healer on her blog. We tend to feel insecure during our periods, so connecting with your body can promote oxytocin, or "the love hormone," and make us feel happier and more confident. If you can't book one with a professional, ask your partner to help out.
8. Take A Walk After Meals
Taking a walk after eating can make us feel lighter and less bloated, as the movement can get our digestion running smoothly and more efficiently, says certified healthy lifestyle coach Liz Traines, over email with me. If we eat a big meal and sit down for hours after, we will not allow our bodies to work off that "food belly" we are so familiar with. Take a light 10 or 15 minute walk after eating, either outside or around your home, to get the bowels moving and avoid cramping and tightening of the legs, she advises.
9. Apply Heat To The Body
Applying heat to the body can relieve sore and aching muscles and boost circulation in the body, according to experts at Mayo Clinic. The heat is not only relaxing, but it can help muscles internally and fight pain, as explained. Using a heat pack, drawing a warm bath with essential oils and calming music, or sitting in a sauna (check to see if your local gym or building provides access) can help heal tired muscles and reduce cramping.
10. Drink Chamomile Tea
According to Elaine Holmes, Ph.D., a chemist with the Imperial College of London in interview with Medical Daily, chamomile tea can have great benefits as a tranquilizer, as it contains properties that can reduce anxiety, calm aching muscles and cramps, boost our moods and make us sleepy. Getting adequate sleep during your period will also have prevent cravings, tightness and irritability the next day, as well, as the body needs time to repair muscles and balance out hormones, as explained as well. Enjoy a cup before bed to unwind after a busy day.
11. Consider Birth Control
According to Dr. Piscitelli MD, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University in Durham, N.C. in an article with Health, taking birth control may reduce symptoms of PMS, leading to shorter and less intense episodes. Check with your doctor to see which medication might be best for your needs. Furthermore, some brands and dosages can reduce PMS symptoms better than others, so a simple swap in brand or a lower dosage might reduce bloating and cramping during menstruation, as explained.
No matter how awful a period might seem, there are ways to reduce the bloating and cramping, as well as other inconvenient symptoms, so that it's more bearable and less noticeable during the week. By sticking to a healthy diet, an exercise plan, stress-reduction techniques and promoting positivity and self-love throughout, you'll be better able to minimize symptoms and feel happier.
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