15 foods to relieve period pain and bloating this Christmas – and the ones to avoid
Christmas is just around the corner, which we all know means food, food, and more food! If your flow is going to start around the holidays, it’s a good idea to know which foods to stay clear of on the dinner table – as they could worsen the symptoms of your period – and which foods will keep you hydrated, less bloated and restore essential nutrients so you have more energy to enjoy time with friends and family.
What you eat throughout your entire cycle makes a difference because your diet directly impacts your hormonal balance, so focus on getting more of the foods below into your diet.
Foods and drinks to enjoy
Thanks to a high dose of vitamin B6, bananas are one of the best mood-boosting foods. Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, which can reduce water retention (goodbye bloating) and help regulate your digestive system. Plus, they’re versatile. Snack on one as is, put slices on toast or blend it into a smoothie.
If you’re looking for hydration without downing another cup of water, slice up some watermelon. Fruits with natural sugars like watermelon, plums and berries are a good alternative when the sugar cravings hit and can also help alleviate bloating.
Rich in vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon will work wonders to relax your muscles and relieve cramping. You’ll also find omega-3s in walnuts, avocados, pumpkin and flaxseeds. Try this baked salmon and asparagus dish for naturally anti-inflammatory nutrients essential for the time of the month.
Drink plenty of water regularly during your flow so you don’t get dehydration headaches. When your body knows that plenty of water is being replenished, it won’t retain as much water, which stops bloating.
Calcium helps reduce feelings of depression and anxiety, and vitamin D promotes the production of more serotonin in the body, which regulates mood. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes have high vitamin C that helps absorb vitamin D and calcium from other foods to ease menstrual cramps, aches, and pains.
Broccoli has the winning combo of nutrients that play an essential role in easing PMS symptoms—magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamins A, C, B6, and E. Use broccoli in a stir fry, salad, soup or green smoothie to boost your mood and get your energy back. Iron intake is especially important during your period – it’s the dip in iron that leads to fatigue, bodily pains and dizziness – so get more of those iron-rich greens like broccoli, spinach and kale.
Egg yolk has plenty of iron, vitamins and fatty acids to restore essential nutrients to your body. Hard-boiled eggs can promote bloating for sensitive stomachs, so stick to omelettes and poached eggs. Try this spinach mushroom frittata that’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Ginger is known for reducing nausea and has anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe achy muscles. Swap out your coffee for a warm mug of ginger tea with a hint of honey and lemon.
Another great beverage option – a turmeric latte. Turmeric is known as the anti-inflammatory spice and you can add it to meats, curries and teas.
Chicken is rich in iron and protein, which will help you stay full for longer and restore essential nutrients that will boost energy.
Here’s the one you were looking for – yes, you can have chocolate! Reach for dark chocolate, which is rich in iron and magnesium and won’t hit you with an energy slump afterwards. To get the serotonin boost from the magnesium, eat chocolate that’s 60% cacao or higher. Or, try making this delish avocado chocolate mousse for a hit of potassium and fatty acids.
Nuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and they’re a great source of protein. A handy little snack option as is when you’re feeling peckish on your period, or try nut butters and nut-based milks.
Eat flaxseed ahead of your cycle to flush out excess estrogen that leads to heavy bleeding and clots. You can add ground flaxseed to smoothies or a breakfast bowl of yogurt and fruit. It has a ton of omega-3 fatty acids and is known for soothing constipation, which can be another PMS symptom.
Quinoa is another food that’s rich in iron, protein and magnesium, and it has a low glycemic index, which means you’ll feel full for longer and won’t have that 3:30pm energy slump!
Peppermint and chamomile tea
Peppermint tea can relieve menstrual cramps, nausea, and diarrhea, and chamomile calms your nervous system, relaxes your muscles and aids with digestion. Another great alternative to coffee!
Foods and drinks to avoid
Certain foods can exacerbate cramping, mood swings, nausea and bloating, and unfortunately it’s usually the ones that are the most delicious. Here’s the foods and beverages you’ll want to find alternatives for or limit for a much more manageable period.
Sorry, caffeine isn’t your friend during your period. If you’re an excessive coffee drinker, then the caffeine withdrawal will exacerbate period headaches, so wean yourself off coffee before your flow or limit yourself to one cup a day instead of three during that week. Caffeine causes water retention and bloating, diarrhea, digestive issues, and it constricts blood flow leading to painful cramps.
Like coffee, alcohol dehydrates, which causes water retention and bloating and worsens headaches. A hangover will give you similar symptoms to your period like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue, so if you do choose to have a glass or two, make sure you don’t go overboard.
Soda or even sparkling water can cause bloating because of the carbonation, and all that sugar will just give you an energy slump you don’t want when you’re already fatigued. Stick to water and tea!
High sodium and fatty foods
All you want to do on your period is reach for a burger, pizza or a big bag of chips, but salty, fried or highly processed foods are huge culprits for bloating. Trans fats and saturated fats affect your hormone levels and cause period pain and inflammation – reach instead for foods with essential fatty acids like salmon and avocado.
Legumes and refined grains
Kidney beans, chickpeas and legumes can cause gas and bloating – not something you want when you’ve already got enough going on down there! Choose whole grains like barley, buckwheat and oatmeal instead of white bread, pasta, cereal and cookies.
Sugar has to be the number one craving for many during their flow, but we all know that eating too much of it can cause spikes and crashes in energy levels and mood changes that lead to depression and anxiety. Try limiting your intake to regulate your mood!
Here’s the mythbuster. Although red meat is high in iron, the week of your period is not a great time to have it. The main reason you get cramps is due to the release of prostaglandins during your period. Prostaglandins are necessary for your flow – these compounds help your uterus contract and get rid of the uterine lining. But, high levels of prostaglandins cause painful cramps, and that’s what you want to avoid with red meat rich in these compounds. Instead, eat plenty of greens like broccoli, spinach, kale and brussel sprouts. Your body will thank you.
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