Many of us are familiar with the monthly visitor known as PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome). It can bring a rollercoaster of emotions and physical discomfort, leaving us feeling less than our best. As a non-diet nutritionist, I believe that food can play a crucial role in managing PMS symptoms. In this blog post, we'll explore the concept of eating with your menstrual cycle and highlight my top 5 PMS-reducing foods to incorporate during your luteal phase, the 2 weeks leading up to your period.
Understanding the Luteal Phase
The luteal phase typically spans from ovulation to the start of menstruation and is characterized by hormonal fluctuations in all 3 sex hormones - testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. During this phase, some women experience mood swings, bloating, cramps, and food cravings, among other PMS symptoms. However, certain foods can help mitigate these discomforts and promote overall well-being.
My Top 5 PMS-Reducing Foods for Your Luteal Phase
Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are rich in magnesium, a mineral known to alleviate PMS symptoms such as bloating, mood swings, and breast tenderness. Incorporate these greens into salads, smoothies, or sautéed dishes to boost your magnesium intake.
Omega 3-rich Fatty Fish: Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are abundant in omega-3 fatty acids, which possess anti-inflammatory properties. These healthy fats can help alleviate menstrual cramps, reduce mood swings, and improve overall well-being. Aim to include fatty fish in your diet 2-3 times a week during your luteal phase, or the second half of your menstrual cycle.
Complex Carbohydrates: Whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, and oats are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates. They can help stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce mood swings and cravings associated with PMS. Consider incorporating these grains into your lunch and/or dinner to improve fatigue and insomnia. Pro tip: opt to cook then cool these carbohydrates which turns them into resistant starch, & a blood sugar balancing BFF.
Bananas: Bananas are not only a delicious snack but also a great source of vitamin B6. This nutrient can help ease PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, and bloating. Enjoy a banana as a quick and nutritious snack or add slices to your morning cereal or yogurt.
Herbal Teas: Not food exactly BUT herbal teas like chamomile, peppermint, and ginger can offer relief from PMS-related discomfort. Chamomile tea is known for its calming properties, while ginger tea can help alleviate nausea and bloating. Sipping on these soothing teas during your luteal phase can provide comfort and relaxation.
Additional Tips for Managing PMS
Stay Hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is essential to help combat bloating and reduce fluid retention.
Regular Exercise: Engaging in regular physical activity can alleviate PMS symptoms by releasing endorphins, your body's natural mood lifters.
Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can exacerbate PMS symptoms. Consider reducing your intake during your luteal phase.
Prioritize Self-Care: Managing stress through relaxation techniques like meditation, deep breathing, or gentle yoga can help improve your overall well-being during PMS.
Managing PMS need not be a monthly struggle. You can be proactive in handling your symptoms by paying attention to your body's needs and incorporating foods that help reduce PMS during your luteal phase. Remember to nourish your body with nutrient-dense and wholesome foods that support your overall well-being. Practice self-compassion, listen to your body, and embrace a holistic approach to menstrual health.