Looking for foods that help with period cramps? Look no further as we got you a guide on foods that you should and shouldn’t while having period cramps. If you’re someone who experiences menstrual cramps, you’re most likely dreading your monthly flow—and we get you.
Having period cramps is such a hassle. It hinders you from accomplishing your daily tasks and stops you from doing certain activities. For example, let’s say you’re going on this once-in-a-lifetime trip abroad, but because your menstrual cramps start acting up, you can’t simply focus on the sights and can’t have full fun during the tour. Sucks, isn’t it?
But don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are several natural remedies and medications that you can take to ease the pain. However, most of those remedies can only temporarily numb the pain. If you want remedies that can bring long-term benefits, you might want to adjust your diet. With that being said, here’s a brief yet comprehensive guide about the foods that you should and shouldn’t eat during your menstruation. By following this food guide, you’ll no longer have to worry about your monthly flow.
10 Foods That Help with Period Cramps
Trying to ease off period pain? Here’s a list of foods that can help you do that. You may eat them before and during your period, or for better results, incorporate them on your daily diet.
Instead of going for cereals or bread, consider oats as your new breakfast buddy. Whether it’s in oatmeal or cookie form, you’ll surely get tons of fiber and zinc. Oats are also a good source of magnesium which relaxes the blood vessels and helps regulate serotonin—a chemical in your brain that regulates and boosts your mood. So if you’re dealing with not just menstrual pain, but with mood swings too, this is one of the foods that could help you with that. Take note though, avoid putting tons of sugar syrups on your oatmeal—a simple scoop of dried or fresh fruits will do. As for oat cookies, choose low-sugar variants.
For those who are experiencing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) along with cramps, add some eggs on your diet. It contains vitamins B6, D, and E—all of which can fight against the symptoms of PMS. Aside from the nutritional benefits, it’s also one of the most convenient foods that help with period cramps. As you’re reading this, you probably already have some eggs in your fridge. It’s also easy to incorporate it into other meals.
Just a reminder, it’s a herbal tea, not milk tea. Milk teas contain tons of sugar and additives that can actually worsen your menstrual cramps. On the other hand, herbal teas, especially chamomile, peppermint, and ginger, have anti-inflammatory ingredients that can relieve period pain. Some variants, particularly chamomile, have glycine—which is effective in relaxing your nerves and reducing muscle spasms.
If you’re someone with a heavy menstrual flow, you may expect a drop in your iron levels during your period. This may lead to bodily pain, fatigue, and dizziness, which can totally suck if you’re already dealing with menstrual cramps. With that, you should be eating dark, leafy green vegetables. It’s one of the most effective foods to help with period cramps, as well as symptoms that you may get from having low levels of iron. Here are some examples:
- Broccoli: It’s a great source for fiber and iron, helping you ease menstrual pain.
- Kale: One of the best foods to fight off period pains, Kale contains high-quantities of vitamin E, B6, calcium, and magnesium.
- Spinach: This isn’t just some magical food that Popeye eats every episode, it’s actually a nutritious food containing good levels of calcium, vitamin B6, and vitamin E.
Aside from period pain, most women experience having cravings. If you’re someone who has that, you’re probably stacking up tons of chips, chocolates, and ice creams before your period starts. Here’s the thing, snacking on tons of unhealthy foods can worsen your period cramps, and may even compromise your overall health. You sure don’t want to, do you? So avoid going on that route. Go for healthier alternatives instead. You can also incorporate some foods that can curb your cravings, one of which is Chicken, It’s packed with iron and protein, which can help you relieve your PMS symptoms. It also helps you stay full and sated during your period, making your cravings more manageable.
One of the most effective foods that help with period cramps, fish is rich in protein, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids. By incorporating this into your diet, you may experience less period pain, as studies show that Omega-3s can lessen the intensity of menstrual cramps. Omega-3s can also boost your mood, which can help if you’re experiencing mood swings during your monthly flow.
Whether you eat them on their natural form or mix them up in a smoothie, fruits will surely help you deal with those pesky period symptoms as well as improving your overall health. Aside from the nutrients that it brings, fruits are also a healthier snack alternative in case you’re craving for something sweet. Here are some suggested fruits that you should try:
- Bananas: It consists of vitamin B6 and potassium, which can relieve bloating and cramping symptoms.
- Pineapple: Aside from being a great source of fiber, pineapples also contain bromelain—an enzyme that fights inflammation.
- Kiwi: It’s rich in the enzyme called actinidin, which helps you digest protein. It also has tons of fiber, ensuring that you won’t have to deal with constipation during your red days.
- Watermelon & Cucumber: It’s important to keep yourself hydrated during your monthly flow. That’s why aside from chugging tons of H20, you should also eat water-rich fruits, such as these two.
One of the most suggested foods that help with period cramps, dark chocolate contains high levels of iron and magnesium. Having these nutrients can relieve period pain, and reduce PMS symptoms. Take note though, you only need a reasonable amount of dark chocolate to get these benefits– having too much of this can bring more harm than good. Also, go for pure dark chocolate variants.
Another great snack alternative, most nuts contain omega-3 fatty acids which can help you relieve your menstrual cramps. It’s also a great source of protein, magnesium, and other vitamins. Now, you can either eat them in their roasted or preserved form, but you can also mix them in your smoothies.
Last but definitely not least, drinking water is a must during your period. Well, it’s a necessity to your overall health, but if you’re someone that doesn’t drink water too much or gets unhealthy drinks as an alternative, you need to stop now. Drinking water has a bunch of benefits, but for period cramps, it can prevent you from getting dehydration headaches as well as other PMS symptoms. It can also stop you from retaining water and making you bloated during your monthly flow.
10 Foods to Avoid During Period Cramps
Now that you’ve learned the foods that help with period cramps, here are the foods that you should avoid. By glancing on the list, you might think that most of the items are comfort foods. Well, unfortunately, the foods that we all like the most are also the foods that can actually compromise our health. With that, be determined to reduce or prevent the consumption of these foods or take healthier alternatives instead.
If you’re having a monthly flow, you might want to steer away from your favorite burger joint or steakhouse. Red meat is high in saturated fat which can cause inflammation in your body. This will then lead to period cramps. Now, if you’re already on the resto and can’t back down, go for fish instead, such as salmon.
Yes, we get that you’re on period and having some cravings, but the cheese, bread, cookies, potato chips, and your favorite instant ramen has to go. The majority of processed foods have trans fats or hydrogenated oils, which can worsen your period symptoms. Just like red meat, it may cause inflammation in the body, making your period more painful than ever.
If spicy foods upset your stomach, avoid eating spicy meals and snacks during your period. It doesn’t necessarily make your period cramps worse, but it can bring other painful symptoms such as stomach pain and diarrhea, things you don’t want to experience while having menstrual cramps.
If you’re someone that couldn’t function properly without a cup of coffee or a fizzy energy drink, this might be bad news for you. According to numerous studies, drinking caffeinated drinks can intensify your period cramps and can cause tons of bloating.
Refined foods may be delicious, but it provides little nutritional value. Aside from that, they’re mostly made with simple carbohydrates and often have a ton of hidden sugars—which is a big no-no when having your period. With that, remove or cut down your consumption of these refined carbs, such as pasta, white rice, pastries, and breakfast cereals.
Want to party the pain away? Well, if you’re up on hitting the dance floor without involving alcohol, go ahead. But if you need to chug some of your favorite martinis, then it’s better to skip that night out. According to numerous studies, alcohol can make your PMS symptoms worse and may even prolong your cramping.
One of the most suggested foods to avoid during cramps, sugary foods can disrupt your body’s natural blood sugar levels. This can turn to intense mood swings and menstrual cramps. With that info in mind, it’s best to cut back on added sugar and go for healthier options such as fruits.
Most dairy products are healthy and are even considered a necessity for one’s diet. However, too much dairy is a big nope. It’s because most dairy products contain saturated fats, which can cause inflammation to your body. This can lead to severe period cramps, bloating, gas, and diarrhea.
Fried and Fatty Meals
Stick to boiled, steamed, and grilled foods during your period. Fried and fatty meals may be tasty, but it contains fats that can cause inflammation to your body. It will worsen your period cramps, compromise your skin, as well make you gain weight.
Salty foods such as instant ramen, bacon, canned goods, and french fries contain tons of sodium. This will result in bloating and make your monthly flow more uncomfortable. It’s also unhealthy in your overall health, as too much sodium on your body can lead to stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and kidney disease.
Frequently Asked Questions
As you’ve learned the foods that help with period cramps and the foods that worsen it, we get that you still have questions about the list and periods, in general. With that, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions.
How much food should I eat from the suggested list?
This depends per individual, but moderation is the key! If you’re eating too much of the food from the suggested list, it can possibly bring more harm than good. For a more distinctive amount, you can consult your doctor or dietitian about this.
Is it normal to have cravings while being on my period?
Yes! Studies show that the levels of your estrogen and progesterone hormones change before and during your period, making you crave high-carb and sugary foods. Aside from the hormones, snacking copious amounts of comfort foods before your monthly flow makes you combat the feels that accompany the premenstrual stage of your cycle. You see, when you eat those sweets, your body releases serotonin, which boosts your mood. Since you’re experiencing mood swings before and during your period, you tend to eat more of these unhealthy foods, just to feel happier than ever. But even though it’s normal to have cravings, it’s unhealthy to act on it and fill yourself up with refined carbs and processed foods. As much as possible, avoid eating comfort foods during your monthly flow or go for healthier options.
Can I still exercise while on my period?
Let’s say you’ve gained some weight because of the cravings, and now you want to reduce it a little bit. Well, even though your body might not be in the mood to exercise, it’s safe to do it. Just go for moderate-intensity aerobic exercises such as brisk walking or light jogging. Aside from losing some flab, exercise can help you with blood circulation and mood swings.
I’m gaining weight during my period, is this normal?
Yes! During your monthly flow, it’s normal to gain three to five pounds. It usually goes away after a few days of your period. This is caused by hormonal changes during the cycle. Now, if the added pounds aren’t going away after a few days, you’re most likely gaining weight through other means, such as binging on your comfort foods.
I have heavy menstrual flow; what foods can help me deal with this?
If you’re experiencing heavy flow during your cycle, you’re losing more iron compared to those that have normal flow. Now, if you’re losing so much iron, this may lead to iron deficiency anemia and can cause a lot of complications. With that, you need to add more iron-rich foods to your diets, such as lean beef, tofu, spinach, chicken, and turkey. You can also cook in a cast-iron pot to pull even more iron into your food.
Are there other fluids, aside from water, that I can drink during my period?
You might be tempted to drink soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate shakes, and milk tea while having your period but that’s a big no-no. If you want other drinks aside from water, go for natural fruit juices and herbal tea. You can also eat water-rich fruits.
Are there other remedies for period cramps aside from changing my diet?
If you want to try other remedies, here are other ways to relieve period cramps:
- Put the hot compress on your abdominal area.
- Go for light stretching and exercise.
- Get light massages.
- Take over-the-counter medications and birth control pills.
- Try acupuncture or acupressure.
- Get more sleep.
I’ve changed my diet, but the period of pain is getting worse. What should I do?
If changing your diet isn’t reducing your period cramps at all, you may try other remedies (see the list on the previous question) or seek a medical professional. Your period cramps may not be the common type or may lead to something serious so get a consultation as soon as possible.
Alleviating your menstruation pain by consuming foods that help with period cramps is effective, as long as you incorporate these foods consistently. As for the foods to avoid during cramps, we get that most foods on that list are your favorites, but it’s your health that you’re putting on the line. You may get temporary happiness from eating those sweets, but is it really worth putting your health down the line? If possible, it’s best to seek professionals such as a dietitian, to help you come up with a proper meal plan. But if not, well, you can always come up with your own—further research is the key.