From feeling grumpy and bloated to craving grotesque food combinations, premenstrual syndrome or PMS, has hit most women. Premenstrual syndrome refers to the emotional and sometimes physical symptoms that occur one or two weeks before the menstrual cycle hits a woman. It is caused due to fluctuation in the hormones and is a common complaint among menstruating women, who report experiencing abrupt changes in mood and behaviour while on their periods. In fact, it has such profound effects on women that “Are you PMS-ing” is a commonly used question to excuse a woman’s surge of emotions during that difficult time of the month. And even though PMS strikes every month, it feels like one is always under prepared to face its ramifications. So, what can one do to make sure that PMS isn’t as arduous and back-breaking? Well, doctors suggest changing the diet and nutrition as a way to combat PMS.
We have made a list on how you can include a few dietary guidelines during your menstrual cycle to make it better.
It’s common knowledge that a woman loses blood during her periods, which may sometimes lead to anaemia. As far as PMS is concerned, researchers have found that women who include iron rich foods in their diet during their menstrual cycle experience lesser period cramps and have higher emotional stability. You can think of including foods like fish, nuts, quinoa, dark chocolate, which are rich in iron and will help in fighting PMS.
The onset of your menstruation can cause a drop in serotonin, the hormone responsible for balancing the behaviour and a drop in this chemical may be responsible for your mood swings during periods. As a result, feeling depressed or having anxiety is a perfectly valid experience. You can eat calcium-rich foods, such as milk and dairy products like cheese, yoghurt, soy milk which helps relieve these symptoms. Moreover, taking supplements of Vitamin D is believed to balance the emotional changes that one may encounter during menstruation. Both calcium and vitamin D also help to counter bloating and fatigue that occurs during your periods.
It is believed that B vitamins help guard against premenstrual syndrome by helping to synthesize brain neurotransmitters, which is useful in the production of serotonin, which is a hormone that helps balance the emotions during periods. Therefore, try eating whole grain foods like wheat, jowar, bajra, millet as they are believed to help in overcoming the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.
Since the serotonin levels in a woman’s body are lower at the time when she is menstruating, the body craves for carbs to make this serotonin, the “feel good” hormone. Moreover, the changing levels of progesterone and oestrogen also cause a drop in the blood sugar levels, demanding that the body gorge on some sweets, making one crave for sweets. While we understand that it’s hard to avoid your cravings, especially during this time, you can switch to eating dark chocolate or foods with whole grain, which can help satiate the cravings, without adding to your sugar intake.
Alcohol tends to alter the hormones in the body, whereas smoking tends to increase period cramps. It’s also believed that alcohol tends to exacerbate certain symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, like bloating, breast pain, fatigue and anxiety. So, even though some women use alcohol to overcome the period pain, remember that it only provides temporary relief, and it’s advisable to avoid drinking since it may alleviate your symptoms.
Periods are weird, turning us into bizarre creatures, who overindulge in junk food, are tired all the time and in pain. It affects each person differently and while some may avoid meals altogether, others are gorging on food. Either way, in order to avoid becoming overly hungry or overtired, it’s important that you don’t skip meals and eat on time.
It’s hard to steer clear of guilty pleasures, especially when it’s so easy to give into your cravings. However, do remember that the effects of PMS can be conquered and its symptoms can be reduced, only if you make some small, but necessary changes in your diet and lifestyle.