This one is not only for all the ladies out there, but also the gents. Because let’s face it, it’s part of everyone’s life whether you are female or male. Your mother, sister, girlfriend, grandmother, great grandmother, all went or currently are going through it. So what are we talking about? Premenstrual syndrome or the magical three little letters universally known and feared PMS.
But I am here today to welcome you to open that door wide and embrace it instead of treating it as yet another taboo topic. And this goes not only to the ladies, but also the men because we need your support here. Especially when we go through those roller coaster days.
And the first step to embracing PMS is by challenging the bad reputation that it gets. Here are some of my favorites:
-PMS is a weakness
-”It’s all in your head”
-”Oh, she’s being so moody so she must be on her days”
No, no, no!
Premenstrual syndrome is not a weakness or disease that plagues women, it is definitely NOT in our heads, and last but not least, let’s stop saying that if a woman is being moody/emotional, she MUST be on her days.
Now, let’s better understand what PMS is all about. Premenstrual syndrome happens due to a hormone imbalance that occurs in a woman’s body. There’s a shift in the production of estrogen and progesterone where estrogen increases in the body while progesterone decreases. This change can lead to the manifestation of the infamous PMS symptoms. It’s important to understand that chances are there’s not a single woman that experiences PMS like another woman. This, like almost everything when it comes to wellness, is an individual/personalized experience.
The most common symptoms known are the ones related to mood, right? We become more sensitive and cry while watching Moana for example. Errr, nope, that wasn’t me! We can also become more anxious, irritable, and susceptible to mood swings. PMS can also manifest itself in the shape and form of strong cravings (chocolate, hello!), weight gain, strong cramps, and our breasts can get super tender. Like it hurts to keep a bra on. And if you think you’ve got it all figured out and know exactly what to expect, well think again. Because guess what? Many women experience PMS differently every single month!
Although there’s no manual for women or men on what to expect when you’re not expecting, how you experience PMS is actually not completely out of your hands. And like everything in wellness, it all circles back to nutrition and lifestyle!
3 superstar foods
Let’s begin with the 3 types of foods that are important to include for the right support and nourishment especially during these days:
1. Leafy greens: These will be things like spinach, collard greens, and kale. I personally LOVE SPINACH! You can have so much fun with it in recipes and it’s an amazing source of magnesium. Which if you didn’t know, magnesium is a secret-weapon remedy to help with cramps. Add it to smoothies, baked goods, soups, salads, well you get the idea.
2. Healthy protein: Protein helps balancing your blood glucose levels which is a great way to support your mood and hormones. It is also amazing in helping manage those cravings that we get.
3. Healthy fats: Your famous healthy fats like avocado, salmon, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds all are ways to give a little extra love and balance to your hormones. And like protein, it also helps when it comes to managing those food cravings. Something that I personally like to always keep in my pantry are nut butters because when my cravings hit, they are my go-to.
3 types of foods to be mindful about
Remember how excessive inflammation in the body is responsible for triggering so many things like joint pain, acne, and weight gain? Well it can also make things a tad bit worse when it comes to PMS.
1. Refined sugars: This doesn’t only include sweets, dessert, and sugary drinks. It also includes refined starches like white flour. So maintaining a diet that mainly consists of refined carbs like white bread, white pasta, cookies, cakes, and even white rice, is a strong candidate for high levels of inflammation as well as a higher chance of an intensified PMS.
2. Foods that are sources of dairy and gluten. I’m not saying that your grilled cheese sandwich is the cause behind PMS. But these foods do tend to be pro inflammatory. And by no means am I suggesting that you have the same grilled cheese every day but instead with dairy free/vegan cheese and gluten-free bread. Because not everything that is vegan or gluten-free is healthy. In fact, many times these are extremely processed. Which guess what? They also increase inflammation.
3. Coffee: Last but not least, let’s talk about coffee. Despite coffee making it to the list, I am definitely on the coffee-lovers team. I love everything about the smell and flavor! But 2 observations here. The first one is that people rarely drink their coffee pure. They typically add sugar and cream or milk. And if it’s in a coffee shop, they might go for the caramel and chocolate syrup which opens up an entire other door filled with discussions. But you get the idea. What you add to your coffee is definitely something to be mindful about. Second, although coffee has tons of antioxidants, many women have reported that caffeine makes their PMS symptoms stronger. So it’s definitely something to be mindful about, especially around those days.
3 lifestyle tips to honor your body
Taking care of what you eat is not the only way to support the body while you are going through the different stages of your cycle. There are other very important components that can also really help.
1. Prioritize sleep: Especially during this phase, there’s a lot happening in your body. It can leave your energy levels completely drained and it’s important to pay attention. That’s why sleep becomes so important to help recover your energy for the next day.
2. Easy-going movement: It’s no secret that we feel pretty awful during those days. Some women might not even want to leave the house. Which is why during this phase of your cycle, include easy-going movements every day such as 30-minute walks, light yoga sequences, and even a little swimming. It’s a way to honor your body with movement and give you a little mood boost.
3. Tons of self-care: On our day-to-day, self-care is fundamental. And this is for women AND men. But during these days especially, carve out some time to do things that bring you joy as well as give your body and mind a little love. This can be anything from meditating, to getting a back massage, getting your nails/hair done, or even enjoy watching your favorite movie or show.
And to end this article, I wanted to say kudos to all women (and all the supportive lads). Although some days everything may seem completely upside down, we all manage to pull it together every single month. So love and embrace this part of you.