While you probably know there are certain foods you shouldn't have during your period, you might not be listening to that advice because, well, sometimes the foods with the least nutrients just taste good — especially when you are doubled in menstruation pains.
But if you want those awful cramps and uncomfortable bloating to go away, eating foods that are nutrient-dense and healthy is your best option.
Doctors say our bodies are losing 30 to 80 mL of blood during the red days – depending on your flow and duration. Your body must replenish this blood to attempt to keep you in balance. That is achieved through increased requirements of certain nutrients and energy normally used in other ways. In addition, on those days we are dealing with hormones going up and down, which is off-putting to us psychologically and physically.
Yes, those cupcakes and pizza pies do sound amazing, but during this time, your body needs the right nutrients, so that you don't feel even worse. Do you still need more proof about what we are talking about? Read on to learn about five foods you certainly should not have on your plate during your period.
#1 Processed foods
These include tinned food and ready meals. Did you know those cookies or frozen pizzas you love so much might only make your period worse? That‘s because our bodies are already very sensitive during this time. Introducing unknown substances into your digestive system is rarely a good idea, but certainly more discouraged during menstruation. Our bodies are already working overtime when at menstruation, so it's best not to add to this work when avoidable.
Processed foods are high in salt and chemicals, and will leave you feeling even more bloated, sluggish and uncomfortable. They can also dehydrate you, which can affect energy levels and mood. 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 also typically packed with sodium.
#2 Refined grains
Refined grains lose much of the original grain's nutrient content during food processing. As a result, they can interfere with blood sugar and appetite control between meals – factors that can worsen menstrual symptoms. For reduced menstrual pain, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends limiting refined foods, such as enriched pasta and sugary sweets, and opting for whole grains instead.
Other common refined grain products include instant rice, low-fiber cereals, pretzels, and commercially prepared cookies, cakes and pastries. While white rice and white bread taste delicious, these types of foods don't have that much nutrients left anyway.
#3 Sugary foods
Due to hormonal changes during menstruation, blood sugar levels become unstable, and many women crave sweets. Here’s what you should avoid: candy, sugary sodas and drinks, sweets, cakes and cookies. Eating these foods that are 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.
So, apart from the quick energy rush, there is nothing good about sugar on your periods. Once your body burns through that boost of energy, your blood sugar levels plummet. This leaves you feeling even worse than before. And, besides affecting your mood, it can also increase water retention.
# 4 Dairy products
Everyone likes a cup of warm milk during those painful cramps. However, dairy products are known to contain an acid (arachidonic acid, to be precise) which, in turn, can cause and aggravate cramps.
Much of the fat found in dairy products is saturated, and this can cause inflammation and irritation, which is likely to worsen period pain. Dairy also causes an increase in the production of chemicals called prostaglandins, which are responsible for cramping.
# 5 Fatty meat
Yes, this includes bacon! Any meat with visible fat on it will also contain saturated fats. Fatty red meat is especially high in saturated fat, which can cause inflammation in the body. These fats are also linked to the production of prostaglandins, which raise inflammation in the body and cause cramping and pain.
Red meat will also cause an increase in prostaglandins, so like dairy, it can worsen period pain. Moreover, consumption of red meat contributes to bloating and acne.
It can be hard enough dealing with getting a period once a month. Instead of allowing your menstrual cycle dictate how your day is going to go, make sure you're trying to have a well-balanced diet during that week, so you can manage your bloating and cramps that much better.
Enjoy 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. To satisfy the sugar cravings, use honey as a sweetener, or eat fresh fruit every once in a while.