Five foods for a happier, healthier period
What does your diet look like whilst you’re on your period?
Perhaps PMS cravings are a common part of your cycle and you find that the way you eat changes completely whilst you’re bleeding.
Or maybe your meals don’t look all that different whatsoever.
Either way, there’s no denying that how you feed your body can have a real, tangible impact on how you experience your period. From pain levels and PMS, to tiredness and overall wellbeing, it’s well worth learning about the foods you could try when you’re menstruating to help you feel your best.
And luckily we’re here, like the modern equivalent of Fairy Godmothers, to tell you the five foods that can help you to have a healthier, happier period...
1. Boost energy with leafy greens
Iron. Iron. And more iron!
If there’s one diet switch-up that you make whilst on your period, opt for choosing more iron-rich foods. It’s natural for the body to be lower in this mineral due to blood loss during your period, which can cause fatigue and even dizziness.
Whilst you should always consult a medical professional if you feel as though you’re suffering, adding leafy greens into your diet is one way to boost your levels.
Why not try your hand at making kale chips, or add some spinach to your favourite pasta dish to up its green content?
2. Fight period pain with ginger
If you’ve not been told to drink ginger tea whilst on your period, do you even menstruate?!
But seriously, this recommendation does have some scientific backing. Ginger has been shown in numerous studies to help reduce period pains. In fact, one found that it was as effective as ibuprofen! Pretty impressive, right?
Don’t just take our word for it – here’s an explanation of why it’s so powerful:
Ginger contains an enzyme called zingibain which protects your body from inflammation. Zingibain helps in inhibiting the production of a pro-inflammatory chemical called prostaglandins. This is the same chemical that is responsible for the contraction of your uterus. Naturally, higher levels of prostaglandins cause more severe contractions which leads to debilitating cramps.
We love this veggie stir fry as one way to incorporate ginger into our diets.
3. Tackle PMS with dark chocolate
If you’ve got your period stereotype bingo card to hand, get ready to play!
Whilst it’s one of those foods that a lot of us crave whilst menstruating, darker versions can actually be great for the body too. It contains both iron and magnesium. As we mentioned earlier, the former is an important mineral if you want to combat dizziness and fatigue whilst bleeding. And the latter has been shown to reduce the severity of PMS symptoms.
Why not try strawberries dipped in dark chocolate if you want some added sweetness, along with the health benefits?
4. Combat tiredness with yeast extract
Whether you love it or hate it, yeast extract – whichever brand you choose – can be a brilliant addition to your diet whilst on your period.
This is mainly thanks to the fact that it's full of vitamin B12, which can help combat tiredness, a PMS symptom that many of us are all too familiar with. Plus, B12 can help with period discomfort more generally.
Slather it on toast or crumpets for a vitamin-rich breakfast.
5. Stay energised with tofu
…or any other lean protein source for that matter!
It’s important to ensure that your blood glucose levels are balanced whilst bleeding, not only to help boost energy levels, but also to combat “sugar crashes and cravings”. That’s why it’s so powerful to get the protein in, preferably adding one source into every meal.
We love blending silken tofu into our morning smoothies for added nutrition and a creamier flavour.
And overcome period headaches with water
Okay. You caught us. Not technically a food…
However, hydration is so important whilst on your period that we decided to deviate from the blog title slightly! Dehydration headaches are a common symptom of menstruation – but by boosting your fluid intake to at least 6-8 glasses a day, you can help to combat this.
Plus, as counterintuitive as it may sound, drinking more water could actually help to reduce bloating. It’s thought that this could be as it helps to improve kidney function. Whilst this one isn’t proven yet, more water certainly won’t do you any harm if you’re currently below the recommended amount!
If you struggle to get enough of the stuff, consider adding in a low-sugar cordial, a sprig of mint, or some sliced fruit to make your bottle more tempting.
Ultimately, try to focus on enjoying a balanced diet whilst on your period, to ensure that you’re getting all of the micro and macro nutrients that your body needs to be able to function at its best. And if at any point you feel as though you need more guidance, we always recommend having a chat with your GP.
Did you find this information helpful? Maybe you discovered a recipe that you're going to try next time you’re menstruating, or you've got a period-friendly snack of your own to share? Let us know in the comments or over on Instagram!
Where did we get our tasty insights from?
- Clue: Can your period cause anemia?
- Dental Research Journal: Comparison of anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects of Ginger powder and Ibuprofen in postsurgical pain model: A randomized, double-blind, case–control clinical trial
- Clue: Magnesium and the menstrual cycle
- Healthline: 9 Signs and Symptoms of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
- Medical News Today: What causes period fatigue and how to treat it
- Livestrong: How Taking B12 Can Make Menstruation More Comfortable
- Hapifull: What to Eat During Your Period to Feel Energised and Calm
- Women’sHealth: This Is Why You Get A Headache On Your Period—And How To Deal
- NHS: Water, drinks and your health
- Wuka: Period Bloating: 9 ways you can reduce it
- Health Shots: 3 reasons why you need to brew ginger tea to ease your PMS symptoms