It’s true that when we get PMS, we start to really crave a lot of food. I know that when my period is near, I have to eat cheese and red meat. My body aches for them, and I consume them ferociously in heavy quantities. When my period actually strikes, I don’t stop eating. I have to drink lots of healthy tea to replace all the liquid I’m losing from my body, and need snacks close by. Since my body is so affected by the food I eat, especially close to my period, I wondered what does the food we eat actually do to our periods. The following is one of 3 articles describing food’s effect on your period!
First, we’ll look at what will be covered overall holistically:
- Food and beverages that make your period heavier
- Food that regulates your period
- Chocolate’s effect on periods
- Food you should eat to reduce period pain
- Food that worsen your period cramps
- Healthy food to eat during your period
- Food that helps reduce bloating
- Food that helps keep your skin clear from pimples during your period
The following article is part one of “Food’s Effect on Your Period” and dives deep into this special realm! It contains everything you need to know about food that makes your period heavier, as well as food that regulates your period! Let’s begin!
Food and Beverages That Make Your Period Heavier
We all secretly pray for periods that aren’t too heavy. Very heavy periods mean we’ll be changing our menstrual cups, sanitary pads and tampons more regularly (unless you have the Venus Cup which provides one of the largest capacities available on the market today). It’s uncomfortable and messy, and usually when we bleed a lot, we can feel faint and in pain, and even simple walking seems to be an arduous task.
However, without us even being aware, these foods actually make our periods heavier:
There’s no getting around it – coffee is a stimulant. I know when I drink a cup of “java,” I’m suddenly more alert, I talk more (at a quicker rate), I focus quickly on things, but my heart starts to beat faster – it really affects me. Now, the caffeine found in coffee actually stimulates estrogen (female hormone) which makes you bleed more. Although it can help alleviate some of the pain, it sure creates more blood loss!
All honey is not equal, and if you are going to use honey to sweeten your dishes and beverages, at least use natural raw honey that has so many benefits for the body. However, this delicious food substance that unnaturally almost never spoils, raises the temperature within our bodies and so causes our periods to be heavier.
3. Dairy Products
This is an interesting one. I know I crave so much cheese when I have my period, I’ll literally stock my fridge with gorgonzola, camembert, Emmenthal (my favorite), mozzarella, halloumi cheese, and more! The problem lies in the fats that are present in the dairy products – they’re saturated and cause inflammation. They make you bleed more AND worsen cramps – it’s just not worth it at the end of the day – no matter how good that pizza with extra cheese looks!
Also, take a look at this!
Chocolate is absolutely delicious, and there was a time when it was more valuable than gold – only royalty could afford it. What is a woman without chocolate – especially around the time of her period? Alas, this too triggers blood flow. If you can’t resist the taste of chocolate during your monthly cycle, at least divulge in high quality dark chocolate which is actually good for you!
Beetroot is a very nutritious root vegetable, and when cooked properly can taste really delicious! It’s stacked with folic acid, fiber, potassium, iron, vitamins and calcium, and its color is a rich maroon, reminiscent of the color of our periods, ironically. What actually happens when you swallow beetroot, is that it increases blood flow, therefore increasing the amount of blood loss. If this is a worry to you, lay off the beetroot salad until your period stops.
Food that regulates your period
Not knowing when your body decides to menstruate can be particularly bothersome. I remember starting an internship at one of the biggest high-end fashion magazines in the world, only to have someone come over to me and tell me that I had started menstruating – I was wearing white flared pants at the time! It can really be embarrassing, so it helps to know that there is food out there that can help regulate it, food such as:
Cinnamon has many positive effects on the body. It enhances many dishes and beverages, helps to lower blood sugar levels, and is great for diabetics. It warms up the body from within and increases blood flow, thus bringing your body into a healthier state to begin menstruating.
Personally, I love parsley, as it makes any dish I cook look like it was prepared in Jamie Oliver’s kitchen! I love how it looks, and tastes! This green and healthy herb increases blood flow within the body helping to regulate your period. Use it to garnish dishes, eat it cooked or boiled (it can be added to stews and curries), or even sip down a few cups of parsley tea every day.
Ooooh, how I love ginger! I add it to my herbal teas and eat copious amounts of it alongside my rainbow sushi rolls! It’s great to ingest when experiencing the flu, or when you have indigestion. It has vitamin C and magnesium inside it which helps with contractions of the uterus, which, in effect, helps to initiate your period.
4. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera has been known to soothe and treat the human body both externally and internally for a long time. This plant is found in skin creams, gels and beverages, and the great thing is it really helps to control and manage your hormones, and this helps regulate your periods. Try a teaspoon of raw honey with fresh aloe vera gel at the same time every day – but be aware that honey makes you bleed more, so if you’re a heavy bleeder try ingesting a bit of aloe vera every day on its own in a smoothie mixed with ginger and sweet pineapple.
Pineapple is fantastic! It contains bromelain which is an enzyme that helps shed the lining of the uterus which can essentially kickstart your period. Once ingested, this tropical fruit (which has its origins in South America) will increase the production of blood cells (both red and white), which helps with blood flow. In the mood for pizza? Make it a vegan Hawaiian (as stated earlier – dairy (cheese) isn’t really healthy to consume during your period!).
6. Unripe Papaya
Papaya has to be one of my favorite fruits in the world! The fleshy “meat” of this fruit is sweet and delicious, and contains an enzyme called papain which aids digestion – especially constipation and bloating. However, it is commonly known that if you want to regulate your period, you should eat it unripe. This helps the uterus muscles contract, which in effect releases blood and tissues from the vagina. It’s important to note that you should never consume large amounts of unripe papaya as it can often hurt the stomach.
Turmeric has a good reputation for being one of the major players in lowering inflammation in the body, aiding good health, and helping to regulate periods. Many people advise you to add it to milk, however milk can increase inflammation. Therefore, it’s best to add it to herbal tea, such as parsley tea, with raw honey. Just be aware that turmeric on its own can taste very bitter, and you only need to add a quarter (or less) of a teaspoon of it to your tea. Additionally, the magic of turmeric truly appears when black pepper is added to the mix. Like I said – add raw honey and lots of it, otherwise this concoction will taste more like a witch’s potion that a remedy!
Well, it’s good to know which food to avoid if you don’t want a very heavy period, and thank goodness there is food out there that helps regulate women like me, who never know when their period may strike. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, this is only part one of “Food’s Effect on Your Period.” Part 2 and 3 will follow shortly where you’ll learn all about food you should eat to reduce period pain, food that helps reduce bloating, and more!