During a menstrual cycle, each person experiences a wide range of symptoms, from cramps to bloating to mood swings and more. While vitamins for PMS are a popular way to alleviate these symptoms, there are steps people can take in their daily diet that can further relieve pain. Some foods (and a few beverages) can worsen period pain so read on to learn what those are and why they could be causing you discomfort during menstruation.
1. Red Meat
The body produces a group of lipids called prostaglandins during menstruation and helps the uterus contract, resulting in menstrual flow. Red meat contains prostaglandins so when it is consumed during your period, your body has high levels of prostaglandin which can lead to cramps and body aches.
Many people choose to reach for red meat during menstruation due to high levels of iron. Menstruating people are at risk of iron deficiency during their flow so adding more iron into the diet can help offset that loss. However, because red meat features prostaglandin as well, it can have an adverse effect. Reach for other iron-rich meats such as chicken or fish during your period instead.
2. Salty Foods
Foods that are high in salt can result in water retention which causes the body to bloat. Bloating is a common symptom of PMS, even without salty foods. To avoid discomfort from excessive bloating, don’t add extra salt to your foods, and avoid processed foods that are high in salt. Even if you’re taking a vitamin for PMS that reduces bloating, you’re still likely to feel the effects of salty foods in your diet, so try to reduce your intake as much as possible.
3. High-Fat Foods
Foods that are high in fat such as fried chicken, pizza, or burgers can cause inflammation that exacerbates period pain. Avoiding these foods during your period can help stave off any additional discomfort. You can choose to swap out some of your favorite high-fat foods for low-fat options, such as grilled chicken instead of fried chicken. High-fat foods can also lead to acne and while vitamins for PMS can help reduce hormonal acne, it might not be enough to stave it off with a diet of high-fat foods.
4. Spicy Foods
Spicy foods tend to upset your stomach even if you’re not on your period. It can cause stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea. On top of any period pain you experience, spicy food will likely make it worse. If you don’t normally consume spicy food or you have difficulty digesting spicy food, skip consuming it during your period.
5. Refined Grains
Refined grains do not have nutrients in them to keep you full and energized. Consuming refined pasta or bread can affect your blood sugar level and disrupt your appetite. During your period, it’s important to keep your body nourished with good nutrients that are rich in iron and protein. Instead of refined grains, change to whole grains for your period diet.
6. Excessive Sugar
Consuming sugar in moderation is perfectly acceptable, but the issues lie in overconsumption. Eating too much sugar can increase your energy level and is quickly followed by a sugar crash that can decrease your mood. This crash can leave you feeling anxious, depressed, and moody – all emotional symptoms that are common during menstrual cycles. To regulate your mood during your period, monitor your sugar intake so you avoid the dreaded sugar crash.
There are several negative effects alcohol can have on the body that make period symptoms worse. Alcohol can leave you dehydrated which results in headaches and bloating. It can wreak havoc on your digestion and lead to nausea. If you consume too much alcohol and wind up with a hangover, you could be facing headaches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and more. Adding those effects on top of your period symptoms can be unbearable. Try to lay off the alcohol or limit it during your period to avoid exacerbating your pain.
The caffeine in coffee (as well as other caffeinated beverages) can lead to bloating, water retention, and headaches, particularly when consuming too much of it. Caffeine also affects digestion, similar to alcohol, which can result in stomach issues and diarrhea. If you are an avid coffee drinker, you don’t need to cut it out completely during your period especially since caffeine withdrawals can lead to headaches – but you will want to reduce your intake.
During your period, you do whatever you can to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. You take your vitamins for PMS, get your heating pad ready, and all the other ways your prep for your menstrual cycle. Now, you have the tips you need to adjust your diet so you can reduce your pain as much as possible.