I can’t be the only woman who feels like for some reason, during my special time of month (or my T.O.M. as my boyfriend likes to call it)… I’m just hungry. Maybe it’s the hormones. Or maybe it’s just me feeling like I need to self-medicate the symptoms with food… but I think about food a lot during my TOM.
I have a theory that when people crave food, it’s for a reason. Your body is trying to tell you it needs something! During my “special time”, I used to turn to the ice-cream bucket. I’d just take a spoon and sneak a few scoops here and there throughout the day. It turns out that calcium is great, and sugar is awful for you during menstruation. I was half way there!
After having the worst cramps of the century, I started wondering… what types of foods should I be eating during this “special” time. Read on to learn what my research told me…
Calcium Rich Foods
Calcium rich foods have been proven to greatly reduce the intensity of menstrual discomfort in women. If you’re like me and you can’t have dairy, you still have pleanty of options… broccoli and kale are high on the list along with salmon, tofu, rhubarb, sardines, spinach, brussel sprouts, sesame seeds, apricots, figs, bok choy and almonds!
Yes – there is a reason that us women crave this as well. Eat one piece of dark chocolate (60% or higher cacoa) per day during your period. It will help soothe your cravings. Plus, dark chocolate is linked to boosting serotonin levels which will get your mood elevated if, like most of us, you’re feeling slightly irritable.
Magnesium Rich Foods
As if we don’t hear that enough already. Excessive fluid retention is one of the main causes of congestive symptoms seen with our lovely cramps. One of the very best ways to help decrease water retention, is to increase water consumption. If you don’t drink enough water, your body will go into protective mode and overcompensate by retaining the water that it does have.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
There is a group of hormone-like substances in the body called prostaglandins. These are involved in muscle contractions… as well as menstrual pain. One way to shut down this effect is by consuming for omega-3s. Good news for me, I love all of these foods which are rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids… salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, tofu, tuna, and tons of other fish! Fish Oil supplements are a GREAT option too!
Green VeggiesThese are high in calcium, magnesium and potassium – which relieve and prevent spasms that lead to cramping pains. These minerals also can calm and relax emotions and contain high levels of vitamin K. This vitamin is needed to coagulate blood and prevent exess bleeding.
Drink Tea!!This is my favorite. Nothing like a warm cup of tea on an achy tummy. Basil, chamomile, ginger, and my favorite… peppermint are all great options. Peppermint tea is a traditional remedy that relaxes constricted muscles and has a very calming effect.
DO NOT Consume…
Caffeine can affect hormones. It doesn’t allow the liver to carry out its process of eliminating used hormones from the body. It can also inhibnit the body from properly absorbing iron and zinc. It stimulates adrenaline, creating emotional period symptoms such as stress, anxiety and irritability. From my personal experience, it significantly worsesns cramps as well.
Alcohol has similar effects to caffeine and can get in the way of breaking down hormones in the liver and can also create a lack of necessary nutrients including magnesium, zinc, calcium and B vitamins – ALL of these nutrients are involved in the hormonal process.
Eating low-salt foods during AND before your period can help you feel better during your TOM. Salt causes fluid retention and bloating which will lead to cramping.
Sugar can casue nutrient deficiencies – especially with B vitamins which are important for relieving menstrual cramps. It also causes a number of negative menstrual symptoms due to hormonal imbalances and prevents the hormones from traveling properly through the body. Consuming sugar can case low blood sugar, resulting in irritability, headaches and ultimately craving more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle so steer clear of the candy bars!!