Diet Tips for PMS
By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD
There’s no doubting that PMS symptoms can make life miserable for sufferers – and have a major impact on any diet plan.
Feeling our waistbands tighten and seeing an increase on the scales once a month can severely affect our motivation and make us wonder why we’re even bothering. Fortunately, as this weight gain tends to be caused by an increase in fluid rather than fat, the effects are usually temporary.
More worrying though, is the impact Premenstrual Syndrome can have on our eating and exercising habits. Just one week’s worth of giving into carb cravings, comfort eating on fatty and sugary foods, and skipping exercise due to a lack of energy can potentially undo our successful dieting days. The result: we don’t lose any weight – or worse still, actually gain a little.
WLR comes to the rescue with top pms remedies and a fabulous diet plan with foods that help with pms, designed specifically for you to follow in the week before your period.
- Avoid the bathroom scales – constantly jumping on and off the scales in the run up to your period has the potential to make you feel depressed. Similarly, all those tight-fitting clothes you’ve just congratulated yourself on getting into, might not fit if you suffer with bloating so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle to get back into them for a few days – simply banish them to the back of the wardrobe for a week.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet – there’s no need to follow a ‘special’ diet to beat the symptoms of PMS. A diet that eases PMS also helps with weight loss and can reduce the risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Many women with PMS have been shown to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals, so it’s particularly important to eat plenty of nutrient-rich foods.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that a healthy diet eaten throughout the month may help to ease PMS symptoms in the long term so don’t just look at changing your diet in the run up to your period – make healthier eating habits a long-term habit.
- Eat regularly and include healthy snacks – skipping meals or eating erratically will cause a drop in blood sugar levels, making carb cravings even worse.
- Eat plenty of high-fibre, starchy foods with a low glycaemic index – it’s thought some women may be more sensitive to the effects of low blood sugar levels in the run up to their period. Opting for foods that release sugar into the blood slowly and steadily will help to prevent dips that can make symptoms such as irritability, cravings, poor concentration and tiredness even worse. Good choices include wholegrain cereals and breads, wholewheat pasta, brown rice and most fruit and vegetables. Better still, these foods also help to boost levels of serotonin in the brain.
- Fill up on foods rich in an amino acid called tryptophan, which the body uses to make serotonin. Good sources of tryptophan include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds.
- Eat more foods rich in vitamin B6 – much is written in the press about the benefits of taking vitamin B6 to help ease the symptoms of PMS, but to date, there’s still no conclusive proof that it works.
Health experts say that large doses can cause nerve damage so recommend having no more than 10mg vitamin B6 per day in the form of supplements, unless advised otherwise by a health professional.
It won’t do any harm to make sure your diet includes plenty of foods rich in this vitamin such as chicken, turkey, fish (especially oily fish), breakfast cereals, potatoes, bananas and nuts.
- Eat plenty of calcium-rich foods – according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists, some studies have shown that having 1,200mg of calcium each day helps to reduce certain symptoms. This is more than the amount recommended by UK health experts (700mg calcium per day), but it’s easy enough to achieve by eating more calcium-rich foods such as skimmed milk, low-fat yoghurt, reduced-fat cheeses, sardines, pulses, green leafy veg, oranges, nuts and seeds.
- Pack in the magnesium – many women with PMS have been found to be deficient in this mineral, while the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists suggests that magnesium may help to reduce bloating, breast tenderness and mood swings. Good sources include brown rice, wholewheat pasta, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.
- Cut back on salt – a high salt diet doesn’t just increase blood pressure. It makes fluid retention worse by encouraging the body to hold on to water. Flavour meals with garlic, herbs or spices rather than salt and eat fewer salty foods.
- Give coffee, tea and cola a miss – caffeine is a stimulant and can result in insomnia and poorer sleep patterns, especially if you drink it later in the day. Opt for herbal and fruit teas if you fancy something hot or sparking water with a little fruit juice if you want something fizzy.
- Fill up on foods that act as natural diuretics – parsley, onions, celery, cucumber, watercress, asparagus, tomatoes, carrots, melon and ciStart a Free Trial Todaytrus fruits are good choices and have the added bonus of being low in fat and calories. Also, consider drinking dandelion leaf tea (available from health food shops). It may help with fluid retention.
- Consider taking evening primrose oil (EPO) supplements to ease breast tenderness. Or opt for a supplement designed specifically for PMS – but check the vitamin B6 content and avoid anything that contains more than 10mg in a daily dose.
- Get plenty of exercise – being active helps increase levels of endorphins to give you a natural high.