It’s that time of the month and you want to eat all the things…. It is tempting to hole-up on the couch and binge-watching old episodes of Will and Grace with a buffet of soul-soothing comfort foods high in sugar, fat and all the wonderful carbs.
And sure, the immediate satisfaction and that quick mood-boost happens with each delicious bite, but physically, it may end up making things worse.
Premenstrual syndrome, PMS for shore, is often a sign of something called estrogen dominance which means your body isn’t doing a great job with filtering the byproducts of estrogens once they have broken down. It might also mean that you are low in progesterone or high in prolactin.
Eating for PMS support is all about eating foods which support your hormones. By choosing supplements and foods that support your liver’s detoxification process while helping your body produce the right amount of progesterone you can help reduce many of the symptoms of PMS.
And fortunately, there is a whole world of foods that are both comforting to the soul while also soothing the physical symptoms of PMS over time. So let’s take a look at the best and worst foods to eat for PMS relief.
FOODS FOR PMS: WHAT TO EAT
- Beets: Beets are very supportive for liver detoxification, ultra-high in antioxidants and nutrients called betalains and betaine, which aid in liver function which helps your body eliminate estrogenic metabolites it doesn’t need.
- Carrots: Carrots contain high amounts of vitamin A, which helps with progesterone production, optimizing the ratio of progesterone to estrogen.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Foods like arugula, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and broccoli sprouts contain an active compounds called sulphoraphane and diindolylmethane which supports liver detoxification.
- Bananas: Eating this PMS superfood will reduce cramping and balance your mood. But as with all other types of fruit, remember that they are high in natural sugar, and having too many can also be unhealthy.
- Low-fat Dairy: Studies suggest that eating calcium rich foods like yogurt, milk, soy products and low-fat cheeses can reduce a variety of PMS symptoms.
- Eat complex carbs. Sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin, lentils, potatoes and unprocessed oats are all examples of complex carbohydrates – foods that are made up of three or more natural sugars and are rich in fiber. They enter the bloodstream gradually which can help stabilize your mood and keep your cravings under control by causing only a moderate rise in insulin levels.
- Eat whole grains. Estrogen and progesterone as well as decreased amounts of serotonin in the brain can all affect your mood and trigger depression, anxiety or irritability. Eating whole grains such as brown breads, pastas, cereals and brown rice help shift levels of these hormones and regulate serotonin levels reducing mood swings and overall help in boosting mood.
- Wild-caught Salmon & Oily Fish: Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and other forms of oily fish are known to anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation creates a natural form of stress in the body, and stress depletes us of progesterone. Keeping inflammation in check is key for a balanced hormonal environment, especially just before your period.
- Fermented foods: Fermented foods like sauerkraut kombucha, and kefir keeps progesterone levels where they should be by supporting the bacteria in our gut. The healthier and the more diverse our gut bacteria is, the more it helps with fighting inflammation in the body.
- Red meat, liver & eggs: We lose a lot of blood during our periods and along with that our iron levels go down. Red meat, liver and eggs helps to bring those levels back up while also adding all the B-vitamins back into your system which help with making red blood cells, increasing energy levels, healthy brain and nerve function, good digestion as well as hormone regulation and production. Try to go for grass-fed beef or organic when possible.
FOODS FOR PMS: WHAT TO AVOID
- Salt: Excessive salt is one of the main culprits when it comes to water retention. By simply cooking your own food and limiting fast foods or processed foods which typically contain a ton of salt, you can greatly reduce PMS symptoms like bloating, breast tenderness or swollen hands and feet.
- Sugar: That sweet, sweet craving for candy and cake a couple of days before our period is trying to tell us that our levels of estrogen and progesterone are all over the place and causing levels of serotonin to go down. The urge to eat a lot of sugar is so much that studies show that some of us can take in 200 to 500 more calories a day with those additional calories typically come from fats, carbohydrates, or sweet foods. Rather than turning to sugar to boost serotonin levels, swop it for other foods on the list which stabilize hormone levels instead.
- Spicy foods: This may sound odd but you should avoid spicy food during your period if you experience fatigue, intense bleeding, and cramping as spicy foods could lead to more gas and bloating. Instead swop them for natural organic spices like fresh mild chili which are found to contain substances that are inflammatory anti-cancer and antihypertensive. Also include spices like fennel, coriander, cardamom, and saffron which help aid digestion and alleviate the common symptoms of PMS.
- Alcohol: It is incredibly tempting to whip out a bottle chilled chardonnay to feel better, relax and numb the physical and emotional pain that accompanies PMS. But don’t… Because we lose blood during our period, we might also end up with low blood pressure which can make us extra vulnerable to side-effects of alcohol consumption. Drinking alcohol can increase period flow and cause even more blood-loss than normal while also interfering with our hormonal balance – especially stress hormones like cortisol as well as estrogen and progesterone levels.
- Caffeine: Ok, no alcohol but no caffeine? It sounds harsh but too much caffeine can disrupt sleep and contribute to PMS symptoms like fatigue, irritability and mood swings.
SOMETIMES A BENDER IS OK…
When all is said and done, eating healthy is always a good idea – whether you are PMS-ing hard or not. But at the same time it’s also about balance and relentlessly depriving yourself can sometimes do as much harm as all the salt, sugar and fats in that take-away meal.
The trick is to try gain and retain balance. If you have a burger with fries, try not to think of your indulgence or you as being “bad” – this only leads to feelings of guilt and more binges. When the cravings get to much, have some chocolate, but try to stick dark chocolate which also contains healthy levels of bioflavonoids and magnesium which can help reduce PMS symptoms. Indulge, move on and remember, life’s short and meant to be lived.
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with a physician if you have a serious medical condition or use prescription medications. A doctor’s advice should always be sought before before embarking on any new treatment.