Do you find yourself feeling run down, moody and tired when you're on your period? Find out what to eat to feel better
Do you find yourself feeling run down, in pain and tired during your period? Or maybe your breasts become sore, you fly off the handle about small things or end up with a spotty chin just before you come on?
Most women suffer with their periods, but your diet can make all the difference. Knowing what to eat when you’re on your period will help you to carry on like normal – even though you’d rather be at home cuddled up on the sofa with a big bar of chocolate! Wouldn’t we all?!
Cutting out some foods that you might think will help you feel better (like junk food) will also make it easier to control those horrible period symptoms, including PMT, a sore tum, headaches and no energy.
From the fruit that can help keep your skin looking gorgeous, to the sweet treat that means a lighter flow and the nuts that will sort mood swings, we’ll tell you exactly what to eat and when so you’ll feel much better.
Click through our gallery now to find out which period-friendly foods you should add to your shopping basket…
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For energy and lighter periods
Lots of women under 50 aren’t getting enough iron, which means – among other things – they have less get up and go and their periods are often heavier. As iron travels through the blood, it’s even more important to eat iron-rich foods during your period as your levels dip even more. Red meat, spinach, good quality dark chocolate, hummus, dried apricots and sunflower seeds are all iron-rich and delicious.
Did you know? Taking an iron tablet with a glass of orange juice helps the body to absorb it better.
For mood swings
PMT doesn’t have to be the norm every month. Eating complex carbs like lentils encourages the brain to release good mood chemicals, so you’ll feel calmer and more relaxed. Try our tasty recipe for lentil and pancetta warm salad.
For period pain
Taking painkillers will definitely help with period pain, but so will adding oily fish like salmon to your plate. It’s packed with omega fats which scientists think may help reduce that horrible swelling which causes cramps. Avocado is great for veggies.
Did you know? Tinned salmon is just as good for you as fresh or frozen.
Calcium is thought to help with that rubbish hormonal feeling, so up your low-fat dairy to 4 portions a day – natural yoghurt, milk and cheese all count.
Hands up who’s woken up with a big spot on their chin just before their period starts? Instead of snacking on salty and sugary treats like crisps or biscuits which can make breakouts worse, munch on a mango. They act like a natural skin scrub from the inside, reducing redness and keeping skin free from bacteria. Clever, eh?
Did you know? Taking cod liver and evening primrose oil supplements can help with time of the month breakouts.
For sore breasts
Tender or sore breasts during your monthly cycle is very normal. Eating more foods that contain vitamin E (almonds, sunflower seeds, cooked spinach, olives and dried apricots) should make all the difference because it’s a powerful antioxidant that sorts out swelling.
For a swollen tummy
When your tummy swells just before you come on, it’s usually down to water retention caused by changes in your hormones. Salad, especially if it’s made with cucumber, helps your body flush the water through because it’s a natural diuretic that makes you go to the toilet more.
Did you know? Watermelon and artichoke are also natural diuretics.
For mood swings and period pain
A handful of brazil nuts will give your body lots of lovely magnesium – a lifesaver when your period is in full swing. Not only does magnesium calm you, but it also naturally relaxes your womb muscle to stop cramps.
Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water – sweating more, especially at night, can lead to horrible headaches. Keep a glass of water next to your bed.
Did you know? Your body temperature rises a little after ovulation. It then drops back to normal just before you start your period.
Your bowel slows down just before your period starts so you’ll probably struggle to go to the loo like usual. Stock up on fibre-filled foods like brown rice, lentils, jacket potato and wholemeal bread or pasta to keep you regular.
You might be craving junk food and a glass of wine, but sugary, salty foods and alcohol won’t make your period any better. Your blood sugar will just end up spiking then dropping so you’ll feel even worse. Scientists also think women get drunk more quickly when they’re on their period. The salt from junk food makes your body hold on to water too. Plus, greasy chips or burgers aren’t great for your skin.
Did you know? Sorbet or ice cream is the best thing to eat if you’re craving something naughty because it will satisfy your sweet tooth quickly.