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Menstruation and Your Diet

Updated: Jul 19

by: Betsy Stenard, Winthrop University Student


Many women know cravings all too well. The weeks leading up to and during menstruation are often categorized with moodiness, cramping, and cravings like your favorite Ben and Jerry’s, chocolate chip cookies, or salty potato chips. Our bodies tend to need a few extra calories in this timeframe because of the extra work our body is doing so eating a snack that sounds especially good to your body this week, instead of depriving yourself, will often lead to your body functioning at a good energy level with adequate calories. If you find yourself falling into binge-like eating behavior during this time, and continuously eat these calorie dense foods past the point of fullness, this may be more than just cravings and you should discuss this with your doctor and a registered dietitian.


With this in mind, it is important to remember that our bodies craving something is a signal that it needs more of a certain nutrient, certain vitamins, more carbs, protein, or fat, or just more food.

Eating a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, omega-3’s, and lean meats is crucial in supporting a healthy period. Including these foods in your diet as consistently as possible, not just when actively menstruating is key.


Vitamins B6, B1, E, and D are known for supporting healthy periods with minimal cramps. These are all found naturally in nuts and seeds, legumes, lean protein and sunshine; however supplementation can be an option if you find yourself falling short in your regular diet. Discuss supplementation with your doctor or RD before diving into tons of supplements - you can easily go over the RDA (recommended daily allowance) which can be harmful to the body and can lead to various side effects.


Regular exercise is known to have a positive impact on periods. Exercising helps our bodies regulate our hormones which can help to counteract mood swings and cramps in a more long term way, in addition to being good for our circulatory system. Oftentimes we make the mistake of labeling exercise as something that must be high intensity and draining, however moving your body whether that be walking, stretching, or weight training all contribute to healthy hormones and overall healthy lifestyle.



References:

Exercise, diet & periods. The Women's. https://www.thewomens.org.au/health-information/periods/healthy-periods/exercise-diet-periods/. Accessed June 8, 2022.


Ferguson S. 16 Foods to Eat (and some to avoid) During Your Period. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/what-to-eat-during-period. Published July 16, 2019. Accessed June 8, 2022.


Rochelle Embling PhD Researcher in Psychology, Aimee Pink Research fellow, Laura Wilkinson Lecturer in Psychology, Menna Price lecturer in Psychology. Food variety is important for our health – but the definition of a 'balanced diet' is often murky. The Conversation. https://theconversation.com/food-variety-is-important-for-our-health-but-the-definition-of-a-balanced-diet-is-often-murky-149126. Published December 14, 2021. Accessed June 9, 2022.




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