When I was in college, I overheard a discussion between my classmates that one should not drink a lot of water during periods because it can cause excessive bleeding.
Once when I was having lunch with my office mates, one of my colleagues said that you should never eat pickles during periods as it is not good for health.
One of my close friends said that ever since she started drinking a glass of watermelon juice just before her periods start or on the first day of her periods, she no longer gets period pain.
Well, I don’t know how true these stories are but one thing that most women know is that there are certain foods which help soothe period pain. And this is what we will be discussing in this article — what to eat and what to avoid during periods.
What’s better than a diet chart that shall help you plan your life more systematically around your periods. So here is a list of food products that shall help you overcome the effects of hormonal changes that happen during menstruation on our general well being. But before that let’s know in detail about the four phases of the menstrual cycle and its effect on your mood and productivity during that time of the month.
WEEK 1 (DAY 1- 7)
Week 1 begins with the start of your menstrual cycle. Estrogen levels are high during this week. Higher estrogen levels will boost your energy, mood, optimism, and mind.
WEEK 2 (DAY 8-14)
Estrogen and testosterone levels are high until their peak. During this stage, you are more optimistic and confident. Your memory becomes sharper and you start thinking faster also you are more concern about your appearance.
WEEK 3 (DAY 15-22)
Progesterone levels are high compared to Estrogen and testosterone. After half of the week again estrogen level raises. The first half of week 3 is the “pre-PMS” phase. This phase you will feel more sleepy, quiet, less interested in social.
WEEK 4 – (Final 6 days of your cycle)
Estrogen levels are still low at this level which leads to moodiness, muscle ache, fatigue and a variety of other PMS related symptoms. Symptoms may differ in the type and intensity of each individual and even from month to month. This often happens due to changes in diet, stress, medication, habits, etc. This is the natural rest and restoration phase of the cycle, and if you don’t rest you can experience less energy in the following phases.
Foods To Have During Periods
– Complex Carbohydrates: Fruits, vegetables and whole foods are your friends always, but especially during menstruation. The fruit from sugar may help alleviate sugar cravings. Try adding apricots, oranges, plums, pears, cucumbers, corn and carrots to your diet.
– Magnesium Rich Foods: Foods rich in magnesium like beans, tofu and peanuts are thought to reduce bloating in menstruating women.
– Calcium Rich Foods: Women with a high intake of calcium and Vitamin D are less likely to develop premenstrual symptoms (PMS). The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) of calcium for women is 600 mg/day, to get these amounts, aim for at least three servings of calcium-rich foods in a day, such as low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, leafy vegetables. It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from diet alone (salmon and fortified milk are good sources), but women can make up the difference with a daily multivitamin or a supplement. Many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.
– Indulge In Dark Chocolate: Having a piece of dark chocolate (with 60 percent or higher cacao bean) every day during your period will help soothe cravings. Plus, dark chocolate has helpful antioxidants and is linked to boosting serotonin, which can help improve your mood.
– Don’t Skip The Water: Drinking more water will help your body release water retention and alleviate bloating. Your body is retaining water because it’s afraid of not getting enough. So, if you give it what it needs (more water) it will release the water it’s holding onto.
Foods To Avoid During Periods
– Caffeine: Cutting back on caffeine intake can help reduce bloating and calm an irritable stomach. “Caffeine can increase stomach acid and be rough on sensitive intestines. If you want a rich-tasting coffee substitute, try a cup of tea.
– Too Much Salt: Though salt is crucial to good health, boating and water retention can occur if you overdo it. The best way to control salt intake is to avoid processed and fast foods, many of which contain three to four times the salt you should have in one meal.
How To Reduce Period Pain?
Here are a few remedies that may help you feel better. These remedies are a mix of natural and advised home remedies to get rid of the pain.
Exercise: It may seem unconventional, but exercising increases the circulation to the pelvic region and releases endorphins to counteract the prostaglandins. Yoga exercise such as Pranayam and Shavasana can ease pain and help the body become calm and relaxed.
Heat pack: Applying heat to your lower back and abdomen can result in manageable periods as it can ease menstrual cramps. You can use a hot water bottle or a heating bag for faster results.
Tea: Tea is said to help combat period pain. A study showed that sipping chamomile tea increases the urinary level of glycine which acts as a nerve relaxant. It decreases the production of prostaglandins which results in a reduction of pain. Peppermint tea can soothe an upset stomach.
Oil Massage: Aromatic oil can help to manage period pain due to its pain relieving properties. For example, applying sesame oil can help in reducing pain as it is rich in linoleic acid and antioxidant properties. It is advisable to consult a doctor to rule out more serious issues if the pain worsens.
Remember a healthy diet is the key to stay fit and healthy all around the season even during menstruation. Eat healthy, stay healthy.
Thiyagarajan DK, Basit H, Jeanmonod R. Physiology, Menstrual Cycle. [Updated 2019 Apr 24]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan.