Who ever said they love periods? No one ever… For any guys reading this, I’m sorry to say but it’s just as important for you to hear what we go through, because it’s not fun and you’re lucky for not going through it.
Not only do periods make you feel yuk, they give you even MORE excuses not to do things like workout. And who needs more excuses!? We definitely have enough. Every girl reacts differently, some of us bloat and are in agony most of the night. Some of us get spots. Some of us feel lethargic. And some of us get emotional and cry at the smallest things. I can put my hand up to every single one of those 🙋🏻
A lot of us unlucky lot go through the same feelings when it’s time of the month. And we can’t deny that we all start to think “hmmm, what kind of sugary goodness will I munch during this time”. And the crazy thing is we “crave” it before, during and after our periods – haha any excuse, right? We all seem to blame it on our hormones and the fact that we “need” it 😏🙊 It’s not necessarily the case though.
However, we are right in thinking that we need an energy boost when we’re due on. That’s because we have a drop in blood sugar levels and that’s why we crave certain sugary, carby, comfort foods. Once we’ve indulged in all the sugary treats that raise our blood sugar, this is then followed by a sharp blood sugar drop. Hence the roller coaster of feelings starting from irritability, anxiety, and finishing it off with more sugar cravings to “comfort” us.
There’s a feel-good chemical in our brains called serotonin which is low during PMS. (Seriously, the things our bodies go through!) But that’s another reason why we crave carbs and sugars.
Sorry to break it to you girls – believe me I was just as gutted when I found this out. But it is not actual chocolate, crisps or other sugary foods our bodies want. That is purely our brains being cheeky and interpreting the signals our body is sending us.
We can beat it though! There are loads of other foods to eat that are just as delicious, fills you up and doesn’t mess up achieving your goals. And most importantly, makes you feel good. I know we’re all different, for some of us periods aren’t as bad, some of us using certain contraceptives react better or worse, and some of us may have a hormone imbalance like PCOS which can make it harder in many ways. But it’s all about having the knowledge on what foods and techniques you can use to make this dreaded time a little bit easier.
The advice I can personally give you to ease the pain ever so slightly, is to cuddle a pillow in between your legs up against your tummy when you sleep. For me it’s so comforting and it really helps as you can put pressure any time you get pains and it somewhat disappears quicker! Another one is to use a hot water bottle. You can’t go wrong. Applying heat to your tummy to ease the menstrual pain is advice that women have passed on through generations. But now scientists have proven that it’s right. (Women have always been right, haven’t people learnt yet?!) Scientists say that by placing a warm water bottle on the abdomen can not only ease menstrual cramping but can also relive pain caused by cystitis.
Anyway, those are my 2 tips. Keep scrolling to get advice from our expert nutritionist Louise has prepared a free Ultimate Period Survival Guide to help you with choosing other food options and activities to reduce your cravings. Here’s hoping we can have a pain free period – one day!
Your Ultimate Period Survival Guide
Us girls tend to food binge, indulge in sugary, carby foods, and get emotional and angry at the smallest things when it’s time of the month. Don’t worry though!
Here are a few things that can reduce your cravings, help with your mood swings and just help you find your calm through this horrible time!
- Eat smaller mini meals throughout the day to help balance blood sugar levels and keeps cravings from becoming binges.
- Choose complex carbs which take longer for your body to break down and absorb, making you fuller for longer! Eat more whole-grains, legumes, fruit, and starchy veggies.
- Go for protein. By including protein at every meal or snack you help balance blood sugar imbalances and slow the digestive process to keep from feeling hungry. Choose protein options like eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, even peanut butter. Try not to eat the whole pot though!
- Maintain magnesium intake. Research shows we often get low levels of magnesium during PMS. Peanut butter, almonds, cashews, brown rice, sunflower seeds, and most beans are great sources of magnesium. It should be noted that chocolate is also rich in magnesium (which may further explain the cravings). If you have to have chocolate, try to make it a small piece of high-quality, dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate. Have some chocolate and peanut butter cups handy in the freezer or fridge but stick to one or 2!
- Relax and take a deep breath. Cravings can worsen in times of stress. By learning relaxation techniques and practicing them whenever you feel anxious or stressed, you can lessen cravings.
- Lack of sun can reduce serotonin levels further, which leads to increased appetite and cravings. Get outdoors in the sun in to raise serotonin levels. That’s if the British weather is on our side.
- Do a workout! Going for a long walk or doing some exercise helps relieve period-related annoyingness like anxiety, fatigue and headaches.
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All this said if you’re really just not feeling it, don’t beat yourself up for not going all out when you’re working out. Even just a gentle stroll counts as exercise, and it may help you feel better. Your best bet is to do some light and easy movement that helps reduce inflammation via blood flow. That’s why I find our Yoga videos really helpful as it also helps with deep breathing in the parts of your body that need a little bit of love.
Remember if you feel terrible, it’s all right to take a day or two off!