Almost all women know that dreaded feeling when it’s that time of the month again. Between the agonizing cramps, fluctuating mood swings, and greasy food cravings, it seems like we never can cut a break. Whether it’s popping Advil or taking a hot bath, if it’s a cure, we’ll take it.
In the midst of all that period pain, it can be tempting to reach for the nearest chocolate bar or soothing bowl of pasta to escape the agony for just a moment, but your diet actually plays a large role in PMS symptoms. Eating the wrong foods can make your suffering worse, but eating the right foods can make all the difference.
“Fluctuating hormones contribute to PMS symptoms,” says Sara Ansari, RD. “Food affects our hormones, so by changing the food we eat, we can help control our hormones, and thus our PMS symptoms.”
To help you pick the best diet for your time of the month, we’ve consulted with a couple nutritionists to help alleviate those pesky PMS pains.
If you’re feeling grumpy, Ansari suggests eating some whole grains, as they contain serotonin, your body’s feel-good chemical. Anything from oatmeal to quinoa to brown rice can help get you out of that PMS funk.
“Fluid-rich vegetables help to flush out the extra sodium in your body, which decreases bloating,” says Alyse Levine, MS, RD. Broccoli, mushrooms, and artichokes are great foods to eat when you are feeling like you’re carrying a little extra water weight.
Magnesium helps decrease the risk of migraines when you’re PMSing, says Levine. Studies show that magnesium deficiencies lead to increased migraines, so load up on foods such as spinach, pumpkin seeds, black beans, and quinoa to help those debilitating head pains. An added bonus of foods high in magnesium: decreased bloating.
Foods High in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help boost your mood when you’re feeling cranky. Ansari also suggests fortified eggs, chia seeds, walnuts, which are all high in the mood-boosting nutrient.
“Salt and sodium makes our bodies hold onto water,” says Ansari. “Stay away from salty and high-sodium foods and make an effort to drink lots of water to ease bloating. “Being adequately hydrated helps flush out excess sodium and water weight rather than hold onto it.”
Studies show that calcium helps reduce PMS symptoms such as moodiness, food cravings, bloating, and cramping. This effect is stronger when dairy is consumed rather than calcium supplements, so Ansari suggests eating foods such as yogurt and cheese to help relieve symptoms.