No woman has an easy time during her monthly periods. However, half the problems we face during our periods can be solved by eating the right food. Food can counter muscle pain, blood loss, and water retention.
To avoid feeling miserable, there are certain foods to avoid while on your period. Painful cramps, depressive moods, and bloating can make your period the worst thing that’s ever happened to you, but food plays a significant role.
What Not To Eat In Periods
Although these foods are never the best choice for your health, they are almost poisonous during that time of the month. These are some of the foods to avoid while on your period.
Dairy products are high in fats and therefore have the same effects as fatty meats.
Of course, this also goes for cheeses and cream.
This might come as a surprise to you, but dairy products like milk, cream, and cheese are some foods to avoid during periods. They are high in arachidonic acid, which can act as a trigger for menstrual cramps.
Additionally, thanks to the inclusion of artificial hormones in milk, dairy products are touted to be a major cause of hormonal adult acne in women.
So if you have been suffering from conditions like PCOS, endometriosis, etc., we would highly recommend you discuss dairy consumption with your doctor.
Tip: Opt for buttermilk and toned milk—both of which are recommended period food.
When cooking, try to avoid cheesy or creamy dishes, and if you need a scoop of ice cream, look for a non-dairy gelato without added sugars.
Processed foods are a quick and easy choice, but they can make you feel even worse. For instance, canned foods and chips contain large amounts of sodium, which can cause discomfort and bloat.
Frozen foods, fast foods, bacon, pickles, canned soups, papad, etc., come with unknown ingredients and preservatives that aren’t the best foods during your period. They can interfere with hormones and amplify PMS discomfort. Processed foods are also a huge source of sodium, which is a major cause of bloating and water retention and is best avoided during and a few days before your period.
Since we are constantly exposed to a lot of varieties of foods, it is hard to determine if a particular food is processed or not. But to make things easier, here’s a great tip – always read the ingredients on the package; if there are more than five ingredients mentioned, it would be better to avoid buying it, as it is more than likely to be processed.
Tip: Have homemade meals, lots of salads and veggies, and heart and tummy-warming foods like khichadi and porridge.
Choose wholesome foods and healthy snacks, such as a handful of unsalted nuts.
Caffeinated Foods and Beverages
Caffeine is a stimulant that occurs naturally in plants, such as tea, coffee, and cocoa beans. It’s also added to various diet products and beverages. While caffeine affects people differently, it can contribute to irregular periods.
Caffeine can also worsen agitated moods, sleep difficulties, and menstrual pain. To avoid these risks, limit your intake of energy drinks, coffee, black tea, soft drinks, chocolate, and coffee-flavored sweets.
Turn down the volume of coffee—one of the leading drinks you need to avoid during your period. This helps because caffeine is a stimulant, leading to a fluctuation in your hormones, which you want to avoid during your period. It increases blood pressure and heart rate leading to tension and anxiety attacks and worsening the PMS symptoms. Caffeine also decreases your body’s ability to absorb iron, which affects your energy levels and could increase PMS symptoms.
Tip: Have green tea, tomato, and carrot juice, or any soup instead. These are some of the foods to eat during a period to avoid cramps.
High Sugar Food
It’s OK to have sugar in moderation, but overeating can cause a spike in energy followed by a crash. This can worsen your mood. If you tend to feel moody, depressed, or anxious during your period, watching your sugar intake can help regulate your mood.
It is also advisable to avoid consuming too many high sugar foods like candy bars, soda, or confectionaries during your menstrual period. This is because eating high-sugar food will cause a blood sugar level spike that will soon crash.
When your blood sugar level crashes abruptly after a spike, it leaves you feeling irritated, cranky, and lethargic.
Salt increases water retention. Foods you should avoid are fast food and of packaged variety which is both high in salt.
“Spinach and fenugreek also lead to water retention,”
Canned soups, bacon, chips are some foods to avoid during periods high in salt. The hormone responsible for menstruation already causes water retention, and a high salt diet will cause a gassy, bloating feeling. If you are someone who feels particularly sluggish, lazy, and generally uncomfortable around your period, then you must take a good hard look at the amount of salt you consume.
Tip: Instead, opt for simple dal-chawal with yogurt or toss up a salad. Be mindful of what you’re eating and eat in moderation—especially when you’re on your period.
Any form of alcohol increases pre-menstrual depression. The thing is, alcohol can act as a blood thinner, increasing your flow and causing more discomfort.
Please go virgin when it comes to alcoholic drinks while on your period (yes, even if you had a tough day). While alcohol may reduce cramps temporarily, there are too many adverse effects for you to ignore—despite the temporary relief it may give you. It can cause your period to become irregular and increase estrogen levels in the body, worsening period symptoms.
Estrogen is one of the two main female sex hormones responsible for keeping a regular menstrual cycle. It also keeps the cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check and is therefore extremely important for a problem-free period. Just one more consequence if you’re not convinced: its diuretic nature increases your water retention levels. This means that there is an excess of fluid build-up in your body, which makes you appear more bloated.
Tip: Try a watered-down lassi or some coconut water; it will keep you hydrated and are recommended period foods.
Refined grains, like all processed foods, lose much of their nutrient content. This causes them to interfere with blood sugar and regular appetite control. Both factors are concerns during your period. Choose whole grains over white bread, pasta, cereal, rice, crackers, cakes, and cookies.
Red meat is high in fat and can stimulate the release of cramps, causing prostaglandins. Instead, you can opt for fish and lean cuts of poultry and meat during your periods. Keep your diet light and balanced during your periods.
Kidney beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, and all legumes cause bloating. Keep them off your plate to keep discomfort to a minimum.
High-fat foods have a substantial effect on hormone activity in the body. Like trans fats, saturated fats can contribute to period pain and inflammation. Avoid heavy meats and dairy to keep your fat intake down, which also regulates estrogen levels.