Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) affects most menstruators at least some point in their lives.
You may notice that you never used to have any PMS but now do. Or you may notice that you used to have it and now don’t. Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle.
The thing is: we don’t have specific bloodwork for PMS. 4 people could have the exact same blood markers of hormones and other routine parameters but have completely different premenstrual experiences. There are conditions and life situations that can contribute to PMS but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things you can do to support your luteal phase (second half of your cycle), especially the days leading up to your period.
Here are a few evidence-backed considerations for you:
- Add in more plant foods for fibre. Plant foods have fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and water. We need all of those to support the changes happening in the second half of the cycle. These nutrients keep our digestion running well, make us feel satiated, and provide resources for healthy mood and hormone metabolism.
- Add in some (~10g or more) soy protein. Soy has been ostracized a bunch but it’s actually a great food. It has phytoestrogens and is high in protein. Adding in soy in the week leading up to your period can actually help decrease PMS. This can be soy milk, tofu, edamame, tempeh, or another form of soy.
- Make sure to eat some carbohydrates. We live in a time where carbs have been labelled as bad. But the thing is: as people with menstrual cycles, we NEED carbs, especially in the second half of the cycle for our brains and our muscles and our thyroid and our adrenals (and everything!). Opt for starchy veggies, fruits, whole grain carbs like quinoa and brown rice, and plant-based proteins that have carbs like lentils and beans.
- Swap out some of your red meat with plant protein. Red meat can be inflammatory and is high in saturated fats. And lentils, beans, and chickpeas are high in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and protein that help support our physiology a bit better from a PMS perspective.
- Add in omega-3s. Our diets in general are a bit lacking in omega-3s which help with our nervous system, resolution of inflammatory processes and a variety of other processes. A supplement might be the easiest way to get these in.
- Add in nuts and seeds. We need healthy fats for our cell membranes and for healthy hormones during the luteal phase. Plus nuts and seeds have fibre, protein, and minerals that will support digestion and other processes in the body as well.
- The over-arching rule of food adequacy applies here as well. We need adequate protein, carbs, and fats (and other nutrients like calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and more) in order to have a peaceful luteal phase. Our metabolism actually revs up in this part of the cycle so your increased appetite is for a reason. That being said, some people eat more because they’re stressed out and/or not sleeping well and/or not eating foods that help with satiety and/or skipping meals and/or pushing themselves hard because they’re bodies are a bit slower (which is a natural shift during this time), so keep an eye out for those patterns in your life.
- Eat the chocolate! Chocolate cravings seem to be quelled only with chocolate 😉 Still practice moderation, though.
As always, if you need or want support, reach out to a healthcare professional who can guide you better. My next wellness post will be on PMS and hydration where we’ll cover water, tea, alcohol, and caffeine. Stay tuned!