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July 30th, 2009 No Comments


Recently, reader Stephanie asked which foods she can incorporate into her diet while she’s on her period to help her beat the bloat and sluggishness that often accompany that time of the month.

Eating during your period is tricky. I always crave carbs and sweets, but eating too much of those things while on my period never fails to make me feel worse. Rather than trying to eliminate foods, focus on adding more of the following types of foods to ensure you feel great while you’re on the rag (sorry menfolk, this post isn’t totally relevant to you, although the foods below are healthy for everyone!):

  • Food with calcium.

Dairy products obviously contain calcium, but if you don’t eat dairy, try dark leafy greens, like kale or spinach. You can pretty much incorporate greens into every meal: spinach in a breakfast green monster, salad for lunch, and sauteed greens for dinner.

  • Complex carbs.

Your brain is telling you to reach for that cookie, but your crampy belly will thank you if you have a piece of sprouted or whole grain bread with an indulgent topping, like honey and almond butter, or PB & dark chocolate chips, instead.

  • Foods with magnesium.

Foods rich in magnesium, like beans, tofu, and nuts, are thought to reduce bloating in menstruating women. Shoot for at least 200mg per day.

  • Foods rich in vitamin E.

A great source of vitamin E is avocado. You can whip up some guac or just slice one up and go to town! I love raw avocado as a snack.

  • Foods full of vitamin B6.

This powerhouse of a vitamin aids in the metabloism of proteins and red blood cells, and has even been shown to relieve symptoms of depression. Potatoes and bananas are great sources of this vitamin. Snack on a banana and nuts to get your magnesium and B6 fix.

  • Foods with iron.

Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency among women. Make sure you’re getting enough by consuming lots of dark greens, beans, and nuts. Red meat and eggs also contain iron, but it’s a myth that they’re the only good sources of it.

  • Foods containing vitamin C and zinc.

Red berries, kiwi, and bell peppers have plenty of C, as do broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. Add them to oatmeal, cereal, or salads. Top a sweet potato with pumpkin seeds, wilted spinach, a small handful of nuts, and a sprinkle of goat cheese for a delicious meal that incorporates many of the items on this list.

  • Water, water, water.

Getting dehydrated is the easiest way to feel horrible when you’re on your period.

  • Avoid salt.

I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but not only can salt interfere with the absoption of certain minerals, it also causes more bloating at a time when that’s the last thing you want.

Is anyone seeing a pattern? The same types of foods are the answer to lots of problems (lack of energy, out-of-control hunger, period woes). In my responses to your questions, you’re seeing the same types of foods again and again: greens, beans, nuts, fruit, whole grains, etc. This isn’t a secret, but… regardless of what issues you’re having, those foods seem to be the cure! They offer hands-down the most nutritional bang for your calorie (and monetary!) buck. Stock your kitchen with those and it will be hard to go wrong.