Periods are uncomfortable and downright painful, but nothing makes your period more irritating as excessive bloating. It’s estimated that about 70 percent of women experience bloating during that time of the month…. Yikes!
Unsurprisingly, hormone fluctuations are to blame for your oh-so-uncomfortable and sometimes almost pregnancy-level round belly. Specifically, fluctuations in estrogen levels and a sharp drop in progesterone right before menstruation causes your belly to balloon. However, while hormones are to blame, the food you eat and the things you do (or don’t) exacerbate the problem. It turns out you can reduce your period bloat by avoiding certain types of food and by – literally -- taking a walk.
1) Avoid foods that would give you gas on a regular day
Certain foods are more likely to make you bloated even when you’re not on your period. Broccoli, beans, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts are well-known culprits. Some lesser known belly-exploding foods include artichokes, corn, and even lettuce.
What to eat instead? The best choice to avoid period bloat is anything that’s high in potassium, foods like bananas, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and asparagus. They help promote a good balance of fluids. Lean protein is always an excellent choice as well, so reach out for chicken breast. The same goes for healthy fats like chia seeds, nuts, and salmon. These help lower prostaglandins, the group of hormones that cause bloat and muscle contraction.
2) Stay hydrated, but avoid iced water
It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s important to drink water to minimize bloat. If you don’t have enough water in your system, it can cause your body to panic and hold onto the water in your system, instead of letting flow through. However, stay away from those ice cubes! Drinking ice cold water, especially during meals, will impede the digestive process by diluting gastric juices. You also dilute the digestive enzymes your body needs for the effective digestion of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
What to drink instead? If you need water or a beverage between meals, sip on room temperature water or hot tea, but no chugging — and definitely nothing too cold! Best to hydrate between meals—at least 30 minutes before, and wait at least 45 minutes after eating to start drinking large amounts of liquids.
3) No soda or other carbonated beverages
A glass of fizzy Coke might provide you a temporary relief, but it will leave you way more bloated than before. The same goes for sugary drinks like Gatorade.
What to drink instead? Green, peppermint or fennel tea are all great drinks that are proven to reduce inflammation and bloat. Another secret dietary weapon – ginger. Ginger aids in digestion, nausea, gets rid of cramps and indigestion, and even headaches. You can add fresh shaved ginger into a smoothie or use powdered ginger and sprinkle it in your water.
4) Avoid sitting for extended periods of time
Once again, this might sound counterintuitive, but sitting down is only going to help you temporarily with your period cramps. However, the longer you sit, the more intense pain you’re going to experience, along with more and more bloat.
What to do instead? Stretch and do certain yoga poses, such as Apanasana (knees hugged to your chest) or a spinal twist. If you don’t feel dizzy or nauseous, you can go for a light jog. If not, all you need is a 30-minute semi-brisk walk. This should help with bloat and even appease the sharks in your uterus.