Today I’m teaming up with AlgaeCal to talk about nutrition for PMS and Menstruation.
If someone had told me when I was a teenager that certain foods and nutrients could ease my PMS symptoms, I think high school would have been a lot easier. Well, maybe. I think for a lot of us, high school is bound to suck no matter what you’re eating, but that’s a post for another day.
When it comes to our bodies, women have been taught to power through and act like everything is exactly the same. all. the. time. Which means that we are supposed to eat and exercise in the exact same way every single week of the month because periods are just something to be managed and pretend aren’t happening.
These hormonal fluctuations are completely normal, and we should feel empowered to plan for them in order to support our body through those changes instead of just downing our pain-killer of choice and trying to carry on as we white knuckle it through fatigue, food cravings, mood swings, and a desire to “kill everything and eat it dipped in chocolate” (a direct quote from an old blog post from 2011—I must have been having a rough day).
Think of it this way: We think nothing of changing what time we wake up on a certain day of the week to go to an appointment, or to take a different route at a time when we know the traffic tends to be a hassle along our usual path. The same concept applies. Knowing which symptoms you struggle with and what foods provide nutrients to help alleviate those symptoms helps you prioritize what you need to feel more balanced.
Because this comes up a lot with my clients, it’s also helpful to know that the scale tends to read a few pounds higher during PMS and menstruation. It’s not you failing at your diet—you’re seeing fluid shifts and digestive changes. If seeing that higher number is going to ruin your day, kill your motivation, or trigger a restrict-binge cycle, then just don’t weigh yourself that time of the month. The scale will be there when you get back.
Though everyone is a little bit different in terms of what they need and how much, some specific nutrients I focus on to help my clients manage PMS symptoms and to also feel stable during their period are:
- Potassium to ease bloating and cramping. Find it in bananas, avocados, spinach and other leafy greens, tomatoes, melon,potato and sweet potato, winter squash, dairy, and whole grains. Aim for about 4700 milligrams.
- Magnesium to help manage cramps, headache, and irritability and support regular digestion. There are many good sources, but some of my top picks are green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole grains, avocado, fish, and chicken. Aim for about 320 mg per day.
- Calcium to soothe cramps and headaches. The most well-known source is dairy, but you can also find it in leafy greens like broccoli and bok choy, tofu, almonds, and canned salmon. Aim for about 1000 mg per day.
- Protein to promote satiety and help stabilize blood sugar. Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts, and seeds are all great sources. Current recommendations are 0.8-1.0 grams per kilogram of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 pounds) but if you’re super-hungry or very active, bump that up to 1.0-1.2 grams per kilogram. Also worth noting, getting enough (but not crazy-excessive amount of) protein, like calcium, is also important for bone health because it works closely with calcium.
- Fiber to promote satiety and good digestion. Aim for 25-35 grams per day and spread out amongst your meals and snacks to make it easy to meet your goal.
- Water to help you stay satisfied and energized and keep digestion running smoothly. You could be eating tons of fiber, but if you’re not drinking enough water to move it through the GI tract, it’s just gonna sit there. 64 ounces is a great jumping off point, but if you’re very active or feel really thirsty, you may need more.
- Probiotic bacteria to help regulate digestion. Incorporating probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha to keep your GI tract populated with those beneficial bacteria to help support regular digestion and keep constipation and diarrhea at bay.
Working these foods into your day and crowding out those frenemy foods like processed snacks and simple sugars can help. Try my PMS Avenger Trail Mix for a healthy snack option.
If you find it hard to get what you need from food alone, a supplement can help fill in the gaps. For example, you may not need a calcium supplement every single day, but it can help on days you don’t eat many calcium rich foods or when you need a little more. AlgaeCal is the only USDA certified raw calcium powder on the market clinically proven to increase bone density, and it’s hand harvested in sustainable amounts. AlgaeCal Plus is a plant-based calcium supplement that contains calcium, magnesium, boron, vitamins C, D3, and K2, along with 70 trace minerals that are all found in our bones, making it easier to absorb.
One thing to keep in mind with calcium supplements is that sometimes calcium can make you feel constipated. To help you avoid discomfort, the folks at AlgaeCal made this handy infographic to explain why this happens and how to alleviate it.
I know we just talked about some nutrition-related ways to make life easier during PMS and your period, but if you’re having persistent, severe symptoms, talk to your doctor. You’re the expert on you, and if something just doesn’t feel right, it’s important to get it checked out.
Ladies, what symptoms do you struggle with during your cycle?
***Disclosure. This post is sponsored byAlgaeCal . I was paid to write about important nutrients for PMS and menstruation and when to use a supplement. Opinions are my own.
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.
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