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11 Cramp-curing Foods To Chow Down When You're On Your Period

Vivian KELLY
by Vivian KELLY Published on 14 May 2014

Every woman dreads that time of the month. Stabbing cramps? Blow fish bellies? And generally feeling like crap? Periods can't get any worse. But there are things we can do to kill our gloominess and start making US and our periods happy. And because gluttony's what we do best (when we're 'on') here are eleven foods we NEED to stock up on NOW...

With all the harsh PMS symptoms women put up with every month, it's no surprise our diets derail! From distended bellies to painful cramping, often, indulging in sweet treats and fatty foods seems like a brilliant idea. But eating our favourite junk will, in reality, only make things worse. So to make our monthly cycles more manageable, here's how we can eat ourselves happy!

Fresh herbal teas, oily fish and chocolate are only a few of the things we need to help put us on the mend. Sounds good so far, right? Well, we got together with Meat Advisory Panel (MAP) dietitian, Dr Carrie Ruxton, who told us everything we need to know about period-positive foods. And we gotta say, we learned A LOT.

With the right diet and knowledge we CAN help put our PMS miseries to rest. FOR GOOD. Here are the PMS-busting foods we all need, stat.

1. A fresh glass of water

Although the last thing we wanna do is reach over for a bottle of water when we’re feeling crappy it's actually a pretty clever move. Nothing is as pure as H2O. It’s super hydrating which will helps aid water retention and promote smoother digestion.

​So lay off fizzy soda and sparkling water and go for a glass of fresh water. If sipping H2O doesn’t come naturally, just squeeze in a few drops of fresh lemon for taste.

2. A pot of yoghurt

Yoghurt is one of the BEST options when we’re surfing the crimson wave. It’s loaded with calcium and is low-in sodium which means less bloating. What's more, the probiotics in yoghurt are also known to prevent vaginal yeast infections which we're more prone to while we're 'on'.

​Our tip? Go for greek yoghurt. It has twice as much protein in it than regular low-fat yoghurt (and tastes way more delicious too). Organic honey, raspberries and chia seeds sprinkled on top? Now that's a snack.

3. Baked salmon

The Omega-3 found in salmon will help keep our hormones in check and keep us smiling (yes omega fatty acids are mood boosters)! So no more teary nights or impulsive breakdowns.

What's more, salmon is a part of the libido diet meaning we CAN maintain a healthy sex drive and be on our period! Consuming fats can even soothe breast tenderness so why not cook up a nice soy-baked salmon filet or gently pan-fry with lemon and thyme? It’s just an idea, but trust us - it's worth the effort.

4. Leafy greens

Greens are especially good during our time of the month, because of their high levels of calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. While B vitamins help regulate the bowel, calcium helps combat bloating, while magnesium helps our muscles relax, alleviating those belly-hugging cramps we all DREAD.

Greens are also rich in iron. But like any vegetable, go easy on 'em. Eating large bowls of spinach for breakfast, lunch and dinner is only going to cause gas - and no girl wants that. Everything in moderation.

5. Hearty wholegrains

We know consuming wholegrains is important in any healthy diet BUT even more so when we’re on our period. Those period-induced tummy troubles we get? Wholegrains can help.

​Dr Ruxton says, “A study published by the American Physiological Society found that stomach emptying is faster in the days just before a period, leading to increased hunger. But fibre, found in wholegrain pasta, rice and breakfast cereals, can help to slow down stomach emptying, helping us to control hunger and cravings in the pre-menstrual phase.”

Try munching on some popcorn. Believe it or not, it is a wholegrain! And we know just the one for when we’re craving a toothsome treat. Tyrrell’s new sticky toffee pudding popcorn which is free of gluten (meaning it won’t add to the bloat)! We're obsessed.

6. Sweet pineapple

Pineapple is definitely a period-positive food. This juicy fruit is rich in bromelian, an enzyme that helps relax the muscles and aid the digestion process. Munch on this and PMS symptoms like bloating and cramping will soon be a thing of the past. Pineapple also makes a fab substitute to sugary sweets too. We love a guilt-free treat!

7. Iron-rich meat

If you have a relentless blood flow, then you’re probably already familiar with the classic premenstrual symptoms. Anxiety, irritability, bloating, pains - it SUCKS. But all of this can be reduced by upping our intake of iron - with red meat.

Dr Ruxton says, ​“A women loses 4-50mg of iron during her period so it’s vital to eat plenty of iron-rich foods, particularly since up to 30% of women have insufficient body iron stores. Low iron levels, due to heavy periods, can lead to tiredness and loss of mental focus.

​“Red meat is the best source of iron as around one third is absorbed by the body (compared with only 10% in vegetarian sources).” Stick to lean cuts, and don’t even think about sausages, hot dogs and bacon.

8. Belly-soothing bananas

Bananas are great for soothing menstrual cramps because they’re super packed with helpful nutrients, potassium and magnesium, which can help reduce water retention. And not only will it help keep skin, hair and nails healthy but it also has mood-boosting properties.

​Dr Ruxton says “Mood swings are common in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (the week before a period). B vitamins, such as B6 and B12, are vital for normal psychological function and for banishing tiredness and fatigue."

To dose up on vitamin B6 Dr. Ruxton recommends eating bananas, white fish, turkey and eggs. For B12 increase your intake of red meats, salmon and dairy products.

9. Carby lentils

Get your magnesium fix with lentils! Magnesium helps cut down PMS symptoms by producing the mood-enhancing chemical, serotonin while combating bloating and breast tenderness. Complex carbs such as, brown rice, cashews, and beans have similar benefits.

10. Soothing tea

When we first get our period, we want nothing but sweet treats and comfort food to keep us going. But guzzling high sugar drinks like soda and concentrated juices only makes symptoms worse. Our best bet? Drinking herbal teas.

​Drinking tea is kinda like a therapeutic approach to our period woes. A few sips of herbal goodness and cramps are eased and blood flow becomes more steady. It’s also a great way to keep those hormones balanced too.

​Dr Ruxton says, “High caffeine intakes, e.g. from energy drinks, have been associated with higher oestrogen levels in a study of 259 women published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Higher oestrogen levels have been associated with the painful condition endometriosis, and can also affect the risk of breast cancer."

For a calming effect brew some green tea or chamomile. What are you waiting for?

11. Delicious chocolate!

It's official! Chocolate craving while we're on our period is totally normal. Nearly 40 to 50 percent of women go through the same PMS-driven craving. But some scientists believe our cocoa habits are innate, with women only craving the effect of cocoa rather than the taste (OK - maybe it’s a little down to taste.)

So sod the guilt. ​We can have a square or two of dark chocolate and NOT feel bad about it. Apart from being rich in antioxidants, chocolate is mood-boosting and can help with sluggish energy levels. We're obsessed with body-loving chocolate, Choc Shot. This 100% natural liquid chocolate is a perfect addition to porridge, a break-fast smoothie, or toast so we need never be without a choc fix!

What do you tend to munch on during your period? Tweet us @sofeminineUK!

by Vivian KELLY

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