My period gives me such bad cramps and bloating, and I can’t take it! I want to think of some natural ways to make it better instead of just taking a pill. Are there any foods I should be eating to make my period less painful?
It’s great that you want to think of more natural ways to get rid of your PMS symptoms. While there are foods out there that can relieve some cramping and bloating, or even prevent both of those things from happening, there unfortunately is not a magic food out there that will take the pain away as quickly and effectively as a pain reliever pill like Advil or Tylenol will. You can certainly adjust your diet to try to prevent PMS symptoms or to make them a little less painful, but keep in mind that no food is going to work the way medication does.
That said, I am all for natural alternatives, and so I reached out to a doctor for suggestions. My friend Dr. Sherry Ross from the site HelloFlo (a monthly period care package you need to check out) had a few really helpful ones. Dr. Ross suggests “drinking water, warm or hot, because it helps to relax the uterine muscles. Other water based foods that help with hydration include berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc), celery, cucumber, lettuce, and watermelon.” These foods keep you hydrated, and that in turn can help prevent cramping and reduce bloating.
Dealing with some annoying stomach issues from your period? Dr. Ross says, “Adding ginger to hot water is another useful remedy.” Ginger soothes stomach pain and bloating – so does peppermint. Peppermint tea is great for an upset stomach and it’s excellent for bloating.
What else should you focus on besides staying hydrated? Dr. Ross says, “Calcium rich foods and supplements reduce muscle cramps. Ideally, 1,000mg a day of calcium works best. Dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk), sunflower seeds, spinach, soybeans, kale, figs, almonds, sesame seeds, and tofu are excellent sources of calcium.”
Other helpful foods? Dr. Ross says “dark chocolate, flaxseed, cinnamon, and parsley” are all great. Some of my personal favorites are bananas (they help with cramping and are rich with potassium, which helps with bloating), pineapple (which can relax muscles), oatmeal (which can reduce cramping and also help with painful periods), and salmon (which has lots of helpful Vitamin D).
Remember: adding these foods to your diet won’t change everything. If you’re laying in bed, clutching your side and crying in pain, eating a banana and a stick of celery is not going to make you feel better in 20 minutes. If you are in serious pain, I highly suggest taking an over-the-counter pain medication, or going to see a doctor. That said, adding these foods to your diet can help more generally and there is no harm in trying them out! Good luck.