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PMS and Food - what to eat and avoid.

PMS and Food - what to eat and avoid.

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term that we’re all well acquainted with - even if you’re one of those lucky ladies spared from the monthly emotional and physical assault!

According to research, PMS affects far more women each month than not, with around *85% experiencing at least one of the typical symptoms: fatigue, bloating, cravings, anxiety, emotional sensitivity (sometimes depression) and physical discomfort like headaches, backache and abdominal cramping.

We all know how dreadful PMS can feel - so here is some sciency stuff behind what causes it and why : (link to blog post)

It may surprise you to learn that the types of foods that you eat can have a huge influence on the severity of your PMS symptoms.  Food is fuel after all, and the nutrient levels that different food groups contain can go a long way towards regulating blood sugars, reducing mood swings and supplementing your body’s varying nutritional needs alongside the hormonal surges.

It goes without saying that it’s always best to enjoy a varied and healthy diet anyway.  The below foods are suggested options that you can include more of, to help ease your unpleasant PMS symptoms.

Which foods should I eat more of, especially in those two weeks leading up to my period?

Eating lean protein can go a long way in helping to regulate blood sugar levels, which is a great way to keep headaches, mood swings and food cravings at bay. Highly recommended options include fish, poultry, dairy, beans, and tofu.

Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D form an integral form of your PMS alleviation diet.  A diet rich in calcium helps to balance the mood and improve emotional stability as well as the natural fluctuations in your body’s calcium levels in response to your hormonal changes.  Calcium’s absorption and utilisation is heavily influenced by your body’s vitamin D and magnesium levels, too - making this a trifecta of nutritional importance for women, not only for PMS symptom relief but also for the prevention of osteoporosis and sustaining optimal bone health as we age.

Calcium rich foods include low-fat dairy products, sardines, broccoli, tofu, soybeans, and almonds. 

Low magnesium levels not only impact calcium absorption, it can also cause cramping, fatigue and headaches. Foods high in magnesium include nuts, beans, milk and whole grains - which, along with eggs, fish and natural sunshine are also coincidentally good sources of vitamin D too!

Wholegrains (including bread and cereals) are great sources of B vitamins as well as fibre.  B vitamins naturally become depleted during oestrogen hormonal increases, so it’s a good idea to supplement the fluctuations.  Wholegrains are also rich in fibre, which help to balance sugar levels, feel fuller for longer and to keep cravings and overindulgences at bay. 

Other high fibre food options to include are beans, fruits, vegetables and leafy greens.

Which foods should I avoid?

Sorry ladies.  As tempting as that chocolate ice-cream looks… it probably isn’t going to help alleviate your PMS symptoms!

Basically anything that causes big fluctuations in your blood sugar and energy levels should be avoided.  This includes foods high in sugar like ice-cream, cake … that slab of chocolate.  Eating too much salt can also result in bloating and when accompanied by salt’s “partner in crime”.- fat - then it can make you feel sluggish, bloated and tired, which doesn’t bode well for your energy levels, emotions or nutrient levels!  Caffeine and alcohol can do similar things to your energy levels, often exacerbating PMS symptoms.

Give it a go.  Not only will you be less PMS-y, you will no doubt have far better energy levels, feel healthier and you know what they say about positivity breeding positivity!

If you are concerned about the level of intensity of your PMS symptoms, it is always recommended to seek advice from your doctor or medical professional.

*according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.