Not only do periods sneak up on you without warning, but menstruation can also sap all of your energy and motivation to do nothing but nap 24/7. And who has time for that?
Despite the cultural cliche that PMS-ing women need ice cream and other sugary cravings to cope with their period pain and mood swings, it’s actually not a pint of rocky road that will help put some pep in your step during your period. So we spoke with experts to see what foods they recommend noshing during your period.
Instead of grabbing for the nearest trans fat, munch on these expert-approved foods to rev up your energy.
Did you know that iron deficiency is reported as being the most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S.? And that women, especially those with heavy periods, are most at risk? That’s because bleeding reduces the amount of iron in our bodies, so it’s important to eat iron-rich foods when you’re menstruating to avoid anemia, a condition that can cause extreme fatigue and loss of energy.
“Many women tend to have low iron levels anyway, so adding your menstrual cycle on top of that is just a terrible combination,” San Antonio-based certified nutrition coach and personal trainer Hope Pedraza told HelloGiggles. “When it’s that time of the month, try eating foods high in iron like legumes, organic meat, wild fish, dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, which are all great sources of iron.”
Pedraza also pointed out that many foods rich in iron also contain high levels of magnesium, a nutrient that has been shown to reduce PSM and other period symptoms.
When it comes to eating during your period, salmon and other fatty fishes are basically a super food. Nutritionist Claire Martin RD explained to HelloGiggles, “Fish, especially salmon or cod, are high in omega 3 and healthy fatty acids which can help reduce period related inflammation, improve blood sugar and regulate your hormones. Studies show that women who regularly consume fish or take fish oil supplements experience less menstrual pain. Fish is [also a] great source of iron, vitamin b12, and magnesium, and a healthy protein source.”
When your body and hormones are feeling out of whack, chocolate is a girl’s best friend, says wellness expert Caleb Backe of Maple Holistics. However, skip candy bars filled with refined sugar and opt for some dark chocolate instead.
“This healthy alternative is a loaded with antioxidants and is proven to lower levels of cortisol, the brain’s major stress hormone,” Backe told HelloGiggles.
Pro-tip: Dip strawberries in dark chocolate for an indulgent (but still relatively healthy!) treat.
Okay, okay, water is not a food per se. But San Diego-based nutritionist Adalise Jacob recommends upping your water intake during your period to help ward off bloating and the low-energy blahs:
“During our menstrual cycles, many women experience water retention and subsequently bloating,” Jacob explained to HelloGiggles. “It sounds counterintuitive, but drinking more water can help ease bloating and cramps during your period because it pushes the water through your system and out via urine. You’ll also feel more energized if you are hydrated.”