Ladies, leave your man at home, the cramps are getting real and the bloating’s full blown!
Ok, ok, TERRIBLE song joke slash internal monologue aside, these are definitely some of the feels that come along with that glorious time of the month. While the degree of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and period pain varies from woman to woman, the most common symptoms in the lead-up to and during a woman’s period include:
3. Mood swings, irritability and/or crying spells
5. Tender breasts
6. Appetite changes or food cravings
8. Fluid retention
9. Digestion issues
10. Headaches and migraines
11. Back pain
12. Joint or muscle pain
13. Trouble with concentration or memory
14. Anxiety or depression
Sounds like fun, right? With the exception of cramps, which typically occur in the first few days of menstruation, it’s quite common for women to experience some or many of these symptoms as early as two weeks before their period. The good news is, making a few diet and lifestyle changes can go a long way in helping to minimise the stress on the body during this time.
For part one of this story, we chatted to nutritionist and wellness coach, Jessica Sepel, about what our bodies need in the lead-up to a period and how to reduce the discomfort of pain and bloating through nourishing food choices:
1. What are the key nutrients that women’s bodies need around that time of the month?
Iron is essential! Also, essential fatty acids which help dampen the inflammation that is associated with period pain, so up your intake of oily fish, walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds. They are also very grounding – so good for the emotional rollercoaster that can accompany that time of the month!
2. What should women be eating and drinking in the days before their period?
If you tolerate meat, add a serve of red meat or chicken in the days before your period to maintain iron levels. Plus, lots of fluids. Herbal teas are really grounding and can help with fluid retention. I also suggest adding apple cider vinegar in water to support the digestive system and liver function. Finally, zinc-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, greens and seafood (especially oysters) are great, as zinc is an essential part of the hormone cycle.
3. What should women avoid eating and drinking in the days before their period?
One of the most important things is to be honest about caffeine and alcohol consumption. They are both liver loaders and the liver is where your hormones are processed. Caffeine definitely increases inflammation and PMS. Also, dairy can be a PMS trigger. When people present with typical PMS symptoms like fluid retention or mood swings, dairy is something that I suggest avoiding during and before your period.
4. What foods and drinks help to minimise the bloating and discomfort that come with period pain?
Firstly, minimise gluten, dairy and refined sugar. We all crave sugar during our period so it’s just about making healthy swaps and allowing healthy self-indulgence. Swap your traditional brownie to a JSHealth Sugar Free brownie, for example!
Magnesium is also great for period pain, so add extra greens (every meal should have half a plate!) and cacao to your diet. It’s also very important to rest and take it easy during your period, so avoid intense exercise and allow yourself to indulge in yoga, nature walks and even Pilates.
Jess has just released her The JSHealth Program; her 8-week guide to ditching the diet, finding a balanced weight and living the healthy life. You can find out more at www.jessicasepel.com and @jshealth on Instagram.
Main image: iStock
www.jessicasepel.com | @jshealth