Bloating, cramping, mood swings…the list is endless. Most of us suffer from the dreaded period blues (PMS) and it can often feel never ending.
Well, I’m here to provide you with 7 ways to combat these blues to make that time of the month a lot more bearable. Here are my top tips:
Reduce sugar and salt
PMS strikes and all you want to do is wallow in self-pity with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, right? Well, as tempting as this sounds, the influx of sugar will only make you feel worse. Sugar has inflammatory effects that will cause the dreaded PMS bloat. Eating too much sugar will also give you a crash after. This will make you more moody, irritable and tired. Not ideal for those PMS mood swings. My advice would be to stay clear of foods high in sugar. So, no stocking up on PMS chocolate I’m afraid (I know, I’m sorry).
Your salt intake is also something to watch out for. Salt can lead to water retention around your abdomen, causing you to feel bloated. High salt intake will also cause breast tenderness. So, to increase your comfort levels, salt is something to avoid!
Food for thought
The good news is, it isn’t all about cutting foods out of your diet. There are plenty of foods you can add to your meals to combat PMS blues. You lose a lot of iron during your bleed. This loss of iron leads to a sluggish, lethargic feeling. Ensure you are eating lots of iron-rich foods. This will leave you feeling more energised in the lead up to your period. I recommend leafy greens such as spinach and avocados. These will also help prevent those pre-menstrual break outs.
There are also certain things to add into your diet, which will nourish the blood of your uterus. These will lead to less painful cramps. These include darkened ginger root, sesame oil and eggs. Snacking on pineapple will also help reduce painful cramps (we tried it and it works!).
Omega-3 is another amazing diet supplement because it is a source of good prostaglandins. Period pains are the result of prostaglandin hormones. So, introducing good prostaglandins will reduce the pain by balancing hormones. Fish such as salmon is a great source of omega-3. Although, I understand that a lot of people tend to not enjoy the taste of fish. As an alternative, you can take omega-3 fish oil supplements.
Phone a friend
When the mood swings hit, it can be tempting to lock yourself away. But, one of the best things you can do is talk to someone who makes you feel happy, such as your mum or best friend. According to Leslie J. Seltzer, psychologist from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, hearing a supportive/familiar voice prompts the brain to release oxytocin. This is a stress-fighting, mood-elevating hormone. So why not plan a fun day with a friend or give a family member a phone call?
I know what you’re thinking; Why would anyone want to exercise during this time, right? I promise you it will only make you feel better. First of all, exercise releases hormones that are renowned for reducing pain. Why wouldn’t you want this? It also triggers dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is a source of pleasure and serotonin fights depression and anxiety. So, exercise is effective in counteracting some of the worst PMS symptoms.
If you aren’t convinced, it doesn’t have to be intense exercise. Yoga and walking are two of the most recommended forms of exercise. Doing the ‘Child Pose’ in the lead up to your period will relieve the pain and tension in your lower back. The different forms of yoga stretches will also increase blood flow. This will ease the pain that leads to cramping.
Vitamins are your friend
Vitamins are so effective in relieving a variety of PMS symptoms for a variety of reasons. Vitamin B and D are so effective for easing cramping. If you’re having trouble sleeping, try increasing magnesium. This will also lift your mood and fight water retention.
Another one to increase is vitamin A, as it is effective in reducing fluctuating hormones. Last of all, try increasing vitamin C. This will help the body absorb iron.
Cravings can be so hard to tackle when it comes to PMS. The temptation to eat everything in sight can be unbearable, particularly chocolate. Did you know craving chocolate can be a sign of magnesium deficiency? If you add dark chocolate into your diet it will help to combat these cravings and it contains magnesium. Win-win!
Not keen on dark chocolate? Why not try adding cacao powder into your diet. You can use this in so many ways and I promise it tastes EXACTLY like normal chocolate. The only difference is, it is SO good for you. You can use it to make brownies, hot chocolate or chocolate milkshakes. It’s the best way to get your chocolate fix, whilst improving your health.
Dates are always my go-to treat if I have a huge sugar craving. They’re so sweet and always stop me reaching for a bag of sweets.
Another piece of advice I’d give would be eating small, frequent meals. This will keep your blood sugar level. Also, you are 10 times less likely to grab the nearest piece of junk food if you have a constant food intake.
Cut out caffeine
You’re tired and grumpy and all you want to do is grab a cup of coffee. Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but this will only make your mood worse. Staying away from caffeine in the lead up to your period will firstly reduce breast tenderness. Caffeine is also linked to increased anxiety, nervousness and insomnia. So, cutting it out will help reduce all these symptoms.
Studies have found that caffeine increases the severity of PMS symptoms. Also, according to studies it makes you more likely to suffer PMS in the first place!
Do you have any top tips that you swear by to combat PMS blues? Let us know in the comments below.
Written by Alex – Social Content and Community Lead