“All the crampy ladies (all the crampy ladies)”

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In the immortal words of Beyoncé “My PMS is through the roof this week lads – my stomach is out to here, I’m an emotional wreck and all I want to do is sleep & eat chocolate”.

And that’s PMS for you.

“My PMS is through the roof this week lads – my stomach is out to here, I’m an emotional wreck and all I want to do is sleep & eat chocolate”.

I think we’ve all heard of pre-menstrual syndrome, and probably all suffered with it in some way or another at different times in our lives.
Not even Beyoncé herself is immune to it.
We often put it down to hormones or issues such as endometriosis or PCOS (poly-cycstic ovarian syndrome).
However, there is growing evidence that we can manage at least some of these symptoms with a combination of the correct diet and exercise.

But beware, there are some symptoms that may remain, such as:

  • Crying when you watch telly and anything about puppies/love/chocolate/nature/babies comes on
  • Rolling your eyes at the “Have a happy period” tampon ads – when was the last time you went roller-blading?
  • Feeling the rage against your partner just…. because

But in good news, here are some things that we can help with 😉

Nutrition:

Reduce salt
Too much salt in our diets can aggravate common PMS symptoms such as bloating, fluid retention & breast tenderness. This can be difficult during times of PMS as you may crave salt & sodium-rich foods. Some good ways to reduce salt intake are:

  • Make your own meals & snacks (rather than eating processed foods)
  • Eat little & often
  • Drink plenty of fluids

Reduce sugar intake
My PMS and DMS (during-menstrual syndrome) cravings are often for something sweet.

Premenstrual syndrome is caused by inflammation, oestrogen excess, and progesterone deficiency. Sugar affects all those things. Primarily, it creates inflammation, which impairs the healthy detoxification of oestrogen, and also the production of progesterone.
Sugar also causes food cravings, which can become a lot worse in the last week of our menstrual cycles. Women who reduce sugar intake, or eliminate it altogether may report significantly less PMS within just one to two cycles. For more about managing PMS with a sugar-free diet, check out this article.

Up the leafy greens
Studies show that magnesium can help reduce the bloating, cramps, and fluid retention that so many of us experience.
Dark leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, dark cabbages, and spinach are loaded with magnesium to alleviate these symptoms. Yum!

The fibre in these vegetables also helps move excess oestrogen through the intestinal tract.

Oestrogen dominance during the luteal phase (seconds half of your cycle, normally after ovulation) is often a cause of PMS symptoms. To keep things simple, you can steam your greens or sauté in a little butter or olive oil. Eat 2 servings of leafy greens per day during your luteal phase and 1-2 servings during your period for best results.

Limit caffeine and alcohol
As discussed already, PMS symptoms may include cramping, headaches, breast tenderness, bloating, mood swings, backaches, fatigue and irritability. All of these symptoms are likely to become more pronounced with caffeine consumption. Caffeine is a stimulant drug that increases blood pressure and heart rate.

In an attempt to overcome PMS fatigue, we may even consume more caffeine in order to boost energy.
Consequently, the increase of caffeine leads to tension, anxiety, trouble sleeping and amplified exhaustion.
In addition, caffeine can lead to dehydration and it also has an effect on our hormone balancing (due, but not limited to, increased cortisol).
So ease off the coffee and have more water or herbal teas to alleviate some of the suffering.

Alcohol can have a similarly dehydrating effect.
But it can also have a big impact on your mood. It’s best to abstain during before or during your period if you suffer with low moods or anxiety/depression related to your menstrual cycle.
Alcohol will just aggravate these.
And as with sugar, alcohol can also disrupt your hormone levels.

Exercise:

It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but you definitely shouldn’t avoid exercise when you are suffering from PMS or have your period.

There are lots of benefits to be had from exercise, including:

  • Enhanced blood circulation and less cramps
  • Mood booster
  • Naturally regulated menstrual cycle
  • Reduction in fatigue, headaches and general lethargy
  • Decreased stress levels

So get those endorphins flowing, get up off your backside and move.

So get those endorphins flowing, get up off your backside and move.

There seems to be some debate around what exercise is best during different phases of your cycle.
My advice – do what makes you feel good. If you hate cardio and you try to make yourself go for a run when you’re feeling crampy, tired and emotionally drained, the chances are that you ‘ll find an excuse to skip your workout.
Listen to your body and get used to your energy levels at different stages of your cycle.

You know what’s best for you.

For some inspiration, check out this blog post on Health.com.

I also follow a lady called Belinda Benn, who has some great content on females and exercise, hormones and exercising for different life stages & ages.
Check out her post about fatloss during different decades, and also remember some basics for exercising during different phases of your menstrual cycle:

  • Follicular Phase = Focus on Training Hard & Progress
  • Ovulation = Go For Personal Best
  • Luteal Phase = Reduce Exercise Intensity & Focus On Managing Carbs
  • Period = Reassess & Set Goals For the Coming Month

So now that you’re feeling super-inspired by all this good news, you can grab your roller-blades, stick the Best Of Beyoncé on your headphones, and get out there (regardless of whether you have to pack the tampons or not!)

Have A Happy Period!

*featured photo from https://www.floliving.com/fight-pms-food/

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