PMS: Foods That Fight It

French fries, ice cream, and lots of Reeses Peanut Butter cups--when these items fill up your cart at the check-out counter, there’s only one reason behind it: you’re on your period. I personally have a HUGE sweet tooth, and when I start to crave chocolate covered almonds beyond my usual cravings, I usually can tell Mother Nature is coming. What is it that makes us women suddenly want to consume a whole bag of sour cream and onion chips with a side of chocolate chip ice cream? Why can’t we crave healthier foods, like carrots and ranch dressing? The answer is simple—hormones.

Your hormones are fluctuating big time throughout your cycle. The stress hormone, cortisol, spikes during this time of the month while your feel good hormone called serotonin decreases. Because of this fluctuation, your body craves food that will help release more “feel good” hormone, such as sugars and fats. By eating sugary and fatty foods, your cortisol levels drop while your serotonin levels raise, making you feel a bit more relaxed. Low blood sugar is another culprit to our chocolate cravings, which also make us want to reach for the candy bowl.

What can you do to prevent such a spike in your candy and junk food cravings? Load up on fiber and protein two weeks prior to the start of your period and back off of the refined carbs and caffeine, such as sodas, cookies, that fourth of coffee, and processed snacks.  Here are a few great snack ideas to feel 100% during that terrible time of the month.

Seeds and nuts: the magnesium in the seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, can aide in those wicked hangover-like headaches you may be feeling. Many nuts are rich in omega fatty acids, which help stabilize your blood sugar, preventing you from that sugar crash later in the day.

Dark chocolate: as long as you are able to portion control, dark chocolate is great in elevating your mood and packing in some antioxidants. A square of 60% of cacao or higher will do the trick.

Bananas: Many women have problems sleeping around the time of their period. Bananas contain melatonin, a hormone that aides in sleeping. Snack on one of these with a tablespoon of nut butter before bed to sleep soundly.

Fiber-filled vegetables: You would think the fiber rich vegetables would just make you more bloated, but it turns out these bad boys help relief bloating and gas by keeping you regular. Steam up some broccoli to add to your next meal.

Pineapple: This juicy fruit has many health benefits, and combating period pain is one of them. The bromelain in the pineapple helps ease muscle inflammation, which may ease any cramping that occurs. The manganese in the pineapple is also great in preventing discomfort.