Let’s be real; having your period can be the worst. It can make wearing white pants scary, or like you want to eat everything in sight. While you’re probably aware there are certain foods you shouldn’t have during your period, you might not be listening to that advice because, well, sometimes the foods with the least nutrients just taste good — especially during your period.
But if you want those awful cramps and uncomfortable bloating to go away, eating foods that are nutrient-dense and healthy is your best option. “Our bodies are losing a lot of blood [during our periods]. Depending on flow and duration, this could be 30 to 80 mL of blood loss. Your body must replenish this blood to attempt to keep you in balance,” says director of Clinical Health Psychology and founder of Health Psychology & Wellness Center at Behavioral Associates Dr. Michele Barton in an interview with Bustle over email. “That is achieved through increased requirements of certain nutrients, and energy normally used in other ways. In addition, we are dealing with hormones going up and down, which is off-putting to us psychologically and physically.”
Yes, those cupcakes and pizza pies do sound amazing, but during this time, your body needs the right nutrients so you don’t feel even worse. Need more proof about what I’m talking about? Here are 11 things you shouldn’t have during your period.
1. Processed Foods That Contain Unknown Ingredients
As much as it pains me to say this, those cookies or frozen pizzas you love so much might only make your period worse. “Our bodies are already sensitive during this time. Introducing unknown substances into your digestive system is rarely a good idea, but certainly more discouraged during menstruation. Our bodies are already working overtime, it’s best not to add to this work when avoidable,” says Barton.
2. Foods That Cause Bloating
“You have hormones acting to provide that service already. Mainly avoid sodas or other carbonated beverages, and foods with high salt content. Some of the hormones responsible for menstruation cause water retention, and therefore bloating. Eating foods that usually cause a bloated or gassy feelings will amplify these effects on your body and further increase bloating and discomfort,” says Barton. These foods include frozen dinners, fast food, canned soups, and bacon.
3. Large Meals
“The signals that tell your brain your stomach is full are known to run on a slight delay. This means for most people, that they continue to eat after they are actually full. Under ‘normal’ circumstances this causes added stomach and abdominal expansion putting pressure on surrounding organs. This can create discomfort, amongst other issues. While you have your period, this can contribute to increased cramping, in addition to other unpleasant digestive issues,” says Barton. Before you get that second course, try to wait about 20 minutes to see if you’re still hungry. Also remember to try to eat slower than normal, this will prevent from overeating which could lead to you feeling uncomfortable.
4. Foods High In Fat
While red meat is a good source of iron, consuming fatty meats can actually make you feel worse during your period because it can lead to cramping, bloating, and acne. According to LIVESTRONG, foods with high fat normally has a strong influence on your hormones in your body. Avoid foods with fatty cut of beef, whole-milk dairy products, and burgers.
5. Fried Foods
Even though you may be craving fried food during your period, you need to be careful because it can give you major mood swings. According to Byrdie, you don’t want to eat foods that contain trans-fats or hydrogenated vegetable oil — they elevate estrogen levels.
6. Dairy Products
According to The Huffington Post, eating dairy can actually trigger menstrual cramps because they usually contain arachidonic acids which are cramp-inducing.
7. Refined Grains
According to POPSUGAR, refined grains contribute to bloating, while whole grains will keep your digestive track regular. While white rice, white flour, and white bread taste delicious, these types of foods don’t have that much nutrients left anyways.
8. Avoid High Carbohydrate Meals
“Eating the entire family sized portion of Linguini Carbonara is not going to end well. If you are ‘ravenous’ and nothing else will satisfy you, measure one cup of Carbonara and add a green leafy salad to help facilitate the digestion and help make you feel fuller faster too,” says Barton. This type of food can make you feel more irritable and tired than you already are during your period. Add more vegetables and fruit like oranges to your diet to help lessen your PMS symptoms.
9. Random Foods & Drinks When You’re Starving
If you wait till your starving to eat, you’re going to feel fuller faster, which can lead you feeling even more uncomfortable. Plus, you’re depriving your body from only getting nutrients to certain parts of the day. “If you eat smaller meals more frequently and of high nutritional quality during menstruation, you will stay satiated and reduce the intensity of cramping, while satisfying these feelings of hunger by giving your body what it is so desperately seeking,” says Barton.
10. Caffeinated Drinks
According to LIVESTRONG, caffeinated beverages that are consumed are linked to more intense PMS. While you may feel tired and irritable during this time, drinking caffeinated drinks can increase blood pressure and heart rate and it can lead to anxiety and tension which can make you feel more uncomfortable.
Say goodbye to that glass of wine you were thinking of having. While it might make the pain cramps go away, it can cause irregular menstrual cycles and may even increase levels of estrogen. According to FILLGAP NEWS, alcohol is a diuretic and it can cause you to retain water. Try to only limit yourself to one serving of alcohol per day while you’re on your period.
It can be hard enough dealing with getting a period once a month. Instead of allowing your menstrual cycle dictate how your day is going to go, make sure you’re trying to have a well-balanced diet during that week so you can manage your bloating and cramps that much better.