The days leading up to your period can be filled with uncomfortable symptoms such as fatigue, mood swings, breast tenderness, bloating, food cravings and constipation or diarrhea. You may also experience pain caused by the physical act of menstruation, including cramping, bloating and headache. Avoiding certain foods leading up to and during your period may help alleviate some of your discomfort.
Caffeinated Foods and Beverages
Restricting your consumption of foods and beverages that contain caffeine can help relieve menstrual symptoms. Caffeine-containing foods and beverages, such as chocolate, coffee, tea and soft drinks, worsen symptoms such as anxiety, depression and breast tenderness, according to James F. Balch and Mark Stengler, authors of "Prescription for Natural Cures." In addition, many energy drinks contain caffeine. Instead, focus on drinking herbal teas and plenty of water to keep your body properly hydrated.
Keeping salt intake under control can help you avoid bloating and the puffy, heavy feeling that comes with it. Avoiding processed foods is one of the best ways to control salt consumption because processed foods and convenience foods are typically packed with sodium. Instead, eat whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and poultry, nuts, whole grains and unsaturated fats like olive oil, which are naturally low in sodium and promote overall health.
Foods High in Fat
High-fat foods have a strong influence on hormonal activity in your body, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Hormone changes during the menstrual cycle are linked to symptoms such as bloating and breast tenderness. On the other hand, consuming a diet low in saturated fats helps reduce excess estrogen levels, according to Balch and Stengler. Avoid foods such as fatty cuts of beef, whole-milk dairy products, sausages and burgers. Focus instead on fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fish and lean cuts of poultry and meat.
Due to hormonal changes during menstruation, blood sugar levels become unstable, and many women crave sweets. Eating foods high in sugar adds to your blood sugar fluctuations, resulting in mood swings and tension. In addition, consuming refined, sugar-rich foods can contribute to immune system imbalance and fatigue. Instead of reaching for a doughnut to satisfy your sweet tooth, have a fiber-rich fruit salad topped with low-fat yogurt.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Menstrual Pain
- Prescription for Natural Cures; James F. Balch, Mark Stengler
- Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Fat and Hormonal Effects
- The Woman's Yoga Book: Asana and Pranayama for All Phases of the Menstrual Cycle; Bobby Clennell
- WomensHealth.gov: Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Fact Sheet
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Premenstrual Syndrome