How To Avoid Feeling Like The Michelin Man On Your Period

Because you’d rather swim than sink.

There’s not a woman alive who hasn’t at some stage thought, “Being female sucks!”

Whether it’s after hobbling home from a night out in stiletto heels, discovering a family of pimples have erupted on your face thanks to wearing greasy foundation all day, or having a Marilyn moment in your fave floaty dress on a windy day, we’ve all lamented our gender at some point. So it goes without saying we’re usually moaning about how unfair our female-ness is during Auntie Flo’s monthly visit.

Whether it’s cramps, cravings, or the many emotional stages of getting your period, it seems as though Mother Nature makes us pay for not getting pregnant in the most cruel of ways. Perhaps the most nightmarish of all, is the inevitable bloat that has the ability to morph us into walking, talking Michelin men. Want to wear that slinky new number you got on sale last week? Forget it, unless you’re happy to feel like a heifer. Or walk around with you dress half-zipped.

However, there are ways to make yourself feel less like the Titanic taking water, according to dietician and nutritionist, Dr Gabrielle Maston, who asserts once you know the three main causes for the dreaded period bloat, you can drastically cut back on it…

1. Hormones

The number one reason for period-related bloating is the major fluctuation of hormones, namely estrogen and progesterone, that occurs around the week before you begin bleeding. Unfortunately, you can’t control this. However, you can use a tried-and-tested trick to work out if it’s hormones alone, or other contributing factors that are causing you to puff up.

“It’s helpful to keep a food diary so you can track changes in your eating and activities patterns,” says Maston.

“If you maintain healthy eating and exercise before your period and during, know that it’s hormones that are making you feel that way, and it will pass. However, if your food diary indicates otherwise, you may want to readjust what you’re doing.”

In particular, stay away from high sodium foods which cause the body to retain water in the lead up to your period. The worst offenders include soy sauce (sorry, sushi lovers), bacon and cured meats like salami, and salty snacks like pretzels and chips.

2. Binge eating

Unfortunately, this is the period habit that makes us feel the worst, even though we trick ourselves into believing otherwise. As we all know, menstruation tends to come with a recipe for a bad mood, particularly if you experience PMS. This means you’ll often go for comfort foods like chocolate, wine, cheese, and chips, which promote the production of feelgood hormone seretonin thanks to their high carbohydrate content. But Maston states this is a no-no if you want to avoid the bloat.

“These energy rich foods might make you feel better at time, but can also leave you feeling guilty, full and bloated. Aim to be eat plenty of vegetables and drink lots of water when you’re feeling bloated. Light, easy, digestible food might help you feel better overall.”

The best anti-bloat foods to reach for include dark leafy greens, water-rich vegetables like cucumber and celery, and low GI carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa.

3. Lack of exercise

When you have your period and are cramping like you’re in a phantom labour, the last thing you want to do is exercise. However, Maston insists this is actually the ideal time to do just that.

“During your period, exercise typically drops off, which can exacerbate bloating symptoms. To beat it, plan to do a low impact movement session, like a leisurely walk or swim. You don’t have to smash yourself at the gym, but the extra movement might help you feel better.”

Just be sure to double your water intake when you exercise or you’ll risk dehydration, which will only cause your body to retain more water.

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