If you wish you didn't have to bother with a monthly period, you're not alone. In fact, more than 30 percent of women in a recent survey said they'd rather go to the dentist than deal with menstrual woes. But Bahar Takhtehchian, SHAPE's Editor-at-Large, has some easy strategies that can help make the "monthly curse" more bearable. Turns out what you eat (and avoid) can play a big role in determining how you feel.
GENERAL INFO ABOUT PERIODS AND PMS
WHAT TO EAT: Calcium
WHY: Several studies show calcium eases PMS-related symptoms. Taking calcium only during PMS time would likely help symptoms, but at SHAPE, we recommend daily intake for prevention of osteoporosis and good general health.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Low-fat yogurt, milk, low-fat cheese, broccoli, kale, collard greens
WHAT TO EAT: Magnesium
WHY: Studies have shown that the mineral magnesium, found naturally in food and in supplements, can help relieve PMS. In fact, magnesium was found to significantly improve PMS mood changes in one study. In another study, magnesium was found to significantly reduce weight gain, swelling of the hands and legs, breast tenderness, and abdominal bloating.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Spinach, beans, tofu, and peanuts. Not only are these foods good for cramps, but they may help reduce bloating in menstruating women
WHAT TO EAT: Unrefined grains
WHY: Unrefined grains can increase levels of serotonin, which boosts your mood and help ward off PMS-related irritability.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Whole-wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice. Bonus: whole grains are filled with fiber, so you will stay satisfied for longer and will be less likely to graze and take in extra calories throughout the day. Afterall, gaining weight is definitely likely to put you in a bad mood, so watch your waistline!
WHAT TO EAT: Omega-3 fatty acids
WHY: Omega 3s work to reduce inflammation that can cause pain. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: They are necessary for human health but the body can' t make them -- you have to get them through food. Besides helping with pain relief during your period, they're also key in reducing your risk of heart disease. Because omega 3s reduce inflammation, they may help lower your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Flaxseed oil, walnuts, salmon, and sardines
WHAT TO EAT: VITAMIN A AND D-RICH FOODS
WHY: As if PMS wasn't bad enough, your period can wreak havoc on your skin. As you probably know all too well, breakouts begin to attack before and during your period. The good news? Foods rich in Vitamins A and D can help you steer clear of acne and oily skin.
WHERE TO FIND IT: Cantaloupe, raw carrots, cooked sweet potatoes, spinach, and enriched milk and cereal
WHAT TO EAT: VITAMIN B-RICH FOODS