Are you PMS-ing so badly your husband is afraid to make eye contact as though you’re a wild animal, you hurt all over and look four-months pregnant from the bloating, your moods are more dysfunctional than Christian Grey in Fifty Shades Of Grey, and even your beloved dog is hiding away from you?
When your PMS terror threat level is severe, crazy sugar and/or savoury cravings can be incredibly hard to fight. But are there actually certain foods we can all eat to relieve the physical and emotional horror of PMS?
Research suggests up to 80 per cent of women experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), previously known as premenstrual tension (PMT). It occurs after the ovulation stage and lead-up to your period. And its oh-so-pleasant symptoms can include irritability, swollen and sore breasts, bloating, cramps, moodiness, acne, mood swings, migraines, food cravings, depression, fatigue, digestive upset and more. The struggle is real, ladies. Very real.
What on earth should we eat at this heinous time of the month? Sydney dietitian, nutritionist and author Susie Burrell, who specialises in treating people with hormonal disorders, says it’s true – hallelujah – there is some evidence some foods may lesson PMS symptoms.
“Herbal teas may reduce bloating; carb-rich foods such as sweet potato, brown rice, pasta and bananas may help to produce serotonin in the brain which may help with mood; and magnesium-rich foods, including nuts, leafy greens, avocados and legumes such as kidney beans appear to help in stress management and help reduce headaches,” Susie says.
So, should we all be on a special PMS diet? Yes and no, Susie says – it’s all about fuelling our bodies the right way.
“Most importantly, it comes down to eating really well at that time each month – whole foods, plenty of grains, seeds, nuts, leafy greens and fish to tick the nutritional boxes thought to help prevent and manage some of the symptoms of PMS,” she says.
“One of the most powerful things that can be done is limiting the intake of salty foods around this time as most women will gain 1-2kg of water weight which is why we often describe feeling bloated and puffy. High-salt foods such as pizza, Asian dishes, soy sauce, processed meats and fast food will only increase this fluid retention.”
Why do we crave just nutritional nasties with a bad bout of PMS? And is PMS a legit excuse to smash down a block of chocolate?
“The interesting thing about the menstrual cycle is that women actually need about 250-300 extra calories each day about a week before a period is due, which may somewhat explain the cravings for sweet, carb-rich foods that are experienced,” Susie says.
“Knowing this, we can then try and limit ourselves to one extra sweet treat or snack rather than a whole day’s worth. For example, if you are craving chocolate, rather than buy a whole block, buy a snack size and feel comfortable that you can eat a little more when your period is due. The key message here is manage your cravings rather than let them manage you.”
What do you think about the PMS diet? Or does eating your bodyweight in pasta help alleviate your PMS?
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