Did you know that there ARE foods that can help make your period easier and actually help with relieve period pain?! YES! In this post we'll chat about 7 scientifically backed foods to help during "that time of the month". You'll never have to wonder what to eat on your period again!
Tips For What To Eat On Your Period
If you've read my first period related blog post, 3 Tips For What To Eat During Periods & PMS, you know that I don't recommend being super restrictive with your eating, especially during your period. When we avoid our cravings and restrict food, we're much more likely to binge on those foods later on.
Now, I'm not saying simply go bananas on all of the high sugar, high fat, high calorie foods you can get your hands on, by any means. But what I am saying is if you're craving chocolate, eat the chocolate! You can use some mindful eating exercises to help you satisfy your cravings in a way that still FEELS good.
Personally, I like to "lean in" to my period cravings. I know I usually crave chocolate, so I'll be sure to add some chocolate chips on top of my morning oatmeal, throw some cocoa powder into my smoothie, etc.
What Are The Best Foods To Eat On Your Period?
Even though I don't believe in sticking to specific diet or food plans, I DO believe that nutrition can still play a role in your food choices... it just can't be the sole decision maker for you food choices. It's a "balance" between what your body is wanting and asking for and what your brain knows about nutrition. I call this "gentle nutrition".
As a Registered Dietitian I am well aware that different foods have different nutritional content, and therefore, health benefits. You can use this knowledge to say "Hmmm, I'm making a smoothie, I know from Colleen's post that bananas can help with period pain. Let me throw that in there to help with these wicked cramps!". BOOM. Gentle nutrition executed!
7 Best Foods To Eat On Your Period
Alright, let's just right into the moment you've been waiting for. What are the 7 science backed foods to eat on your period that I recommend?! Here if your answer:
What To Eat On Your Period For Energy
Eat ENOUGH food!
This one is simple. You need to be eating enough food. Our hormones change throughout our period. Estrogen is at it's lowest, which is an appetite suppressant. So, if that is low, our appetite is likely to be higher. Make sense? Plus, your body is building a home for a potential child and then healing it.- that takes energy, it doesn’t just happen from thin air.
The metabolic rate (how much energy your body need and is burning, in order to function) decreases as you go through mensuration. This is due to multiple reasons, but one is that estrogen is rising. You might notice that after your period you might not have that same ravenous appetite.
My point here is: eat. And eat enough. If we don't we're likely to swing from one end of the hunger scale (hangry) to the other end of the hunger scale (stuffed) and back and forth and back and forth. And, well, that doesn't feel super great does it? And you body can't function optimally there, either.
Foods To Eat On Your Period For A Better Mood
Curcurmin, the main active ingredient in turmeric, has been studied in women with PMS and shows to help with mood related symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, anxiety, depression, sadness, crying, and feelings of isolation as well as behavioral symptoms, such as fatigue, lack of energy, insomnia, trouble with concentration, and appetite changes. It also may have an anti-inflammatory affect, which can help with muscle cramps you may be experiencing. This is due to the impact that turmeric has on our neurotransmitters and inflammatory response.
You can add turmeric to smoothies, oatmeal, or try a turmeric latte (I've used this turmeric golden milk latte (use the discount code nofoodrules for 10% off).
Consuming turmeric with black pepper and also a source of fat can help increase the bioavailability of the curcrumin. Basically, it always your body to USE it, not just ingest it then pee it out. I.E. Waste money, time and energy!
A common cause of iron deficiency anemia is heavy bleeding during your periods. Studies have found that iron deficiency anemia may impact women's physical performance, cognitive function, mood, and overall quality of life.
Additional studies have shown iron intake to help with PMS symptoms. So, try incorporating iron during PMS and during your period. Some ways to do this are by eating things like beans, spinach, dark chocolate (oh yes, girl!) or enriched breads or cereals. These are plant-based sources of iron, which are non-heme (meaning plant based) so you want to be sure to eat more of these due to their decreased bioavailability. Animal iron sources such as meat are better absorbed by the body.
What To Eat On Your Period For Cramps
Bananas can help with cramping & bloating- very very common things we deal with on our periods. This is due to the fact that they contain vitamin b6 and also potassium. So, grab yourself maybe some whole grain toast (bonus points if its enriched with iron!) slather it with some peanut butter and top with a sliced banana.
Well I’m so glad we mentioned PB because it’s the next on my list! Peanut butter also contains vitamin b6, but also magnesium. These two together has been shown to reduce those PMS symptoms we feel like moodiness and cramping.
Magnesium can also regulate serotonin, that feel good hormone, which is low during our periods.
I would recommend eating this during your period, but also when you're PMS-ing. The fats in the peanut butter will be really great for you since our estrogen levels, remember, are low initially and therefore insulin sensitivity is, too. So the mono & poly unsaturated fats found in peanut butter may help to stabilize your blood sugars.
Best Tea For Menstrual Cramps
Grab yourself a cup of tea, girlfriend! Chamomile has been used to treat PMS relief because of therapeutic properties such as anti-inflammatory effects, anti-spasmodic effects, and also bonus points for it's anti-anxiety effects!
Foods To Prevent Period Pain Before It Starts
Choose Sources Of Calcium & Vitamin D Together
Higher intakes of vitamin D have been linked to lower PMS symptoms. Specifically, you want to look for sources of calcium & vitamin d together. Calcium & vitamin D together also help to strengthen our bones in addition to preventing- not just treating, PMS.
During your period remember estrogen levels are low, and low estrogen levels can contribute to bone loss. Now this drop in estrogen is normal, but it’s still important to give your body the calcium and vitamin D it needs.
Dairy products are a really great source of calcium and vitamin D. Heck, make yourself that turmeric golden milk with milk and BOOM, ya got a period powerhouse there!
Or you can take some salmon (high in vitamin D) and pair it with spinach which will give you the calcium you’re looking for. Plus, remember we talked about earlier spinach also has non-heme iron. BOOM. Another period powerhouse. I have a delicious recipe for a spinach blueberry salad that you could throw the salmon on top of- divine! There is actually come cottage cheese in the salad, too (don’t knock it till you try it!) which would be a double whammy for the calcium and vitamin D.
My Final Thoughts On The Best Foods To Eat On Your Period
So, gorgeous humans, there you have it, 7 ideas for what to eat on your period!.Personal, I really DO love this topic and could research on it for DAYS.
My final words of advice are to listen to your own body. Use these tip as a form of gentle nutrition, not a diet prescription. Obviously every single body is different and you are the expert of yours!
If your period comes are you're like "The last thing I feel like eating is a banana and peanut butter" Don't! Satisfaction and honoring what our bodies DO want is huge, too. Nutrition isn't everything. That can cause stress, anxiety, etc. which, honestly, can be WORSE for our health than the "health benefits" of the "healthy" foods you're eating. Remember that!
Let me know in the comments what foods you’ll plan to eat on your next period and also let me know if you like the topic of periods and women's health!