Ugh, it’s that time of the month again. But while some (hugely lucky) women manage to power on through their period, for the rest of us those tell-tale stomach cramps mark the start of the mood dips, mediocre nights’ sleep and generally just feeling a bit meh.
But, while we’ll never be massive fans of mother nature’s monthly gift, there are some simple ways to make those period-tinged days that little more bearable.
Curb the cravings
Need. More. Chocolate!!! Sound familiar? It’s fair to say that a woman’s appetite usually increases particularly during the second half of the menstrual cycle. But while it’s tempting to stockpile the Green & Blacks, healthier carbs could satisfy your hunger pangs without the calorific consequences.
“The most crucial dietary change you can make is to keep your blood-sugar levels steady,” explains Dr Marilyn Glenville, Nutritionist and author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar. “The higher your sugar intake the more severe your symptoms are likely to be. And you could get caught in a vicious cycle in that the more your blood sugar fluctuates the stronger sugar/food cravings you have and the more your blood sugar fluctuates.”
Dr Glenville advises cutting out sugar completely. “Avoid sweet foods such as chocolate and refined foods such as white flour and watch out for hidden sugars by reading labels,” she says.
If you’re struggling to keep those chocolate cravings in check Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at SuperfoodUK.com recommends incorporating snacks containing protein and complex carbohydrates into your diet. “Try eating a boiled egg with some vegetable sticks or some oat cakes with nut butters,” she explains.
To break the have-period-need-chocolate cycle psychologist Corinne Sweet, advisor for anti-snacking device Slissie, suggests identifying your behaviours and making a decision to stop them. “It is entirely possible to retrain yourself to break old, bad habits and adopt new, positive ones, to help you curb your food cravings,” she says. “Replace them with a positive strategy for curbing old habit patterns. This may take effort and time, as we often hang on to what is familiar, but if you stick to it, you will soon be reaping the rewards for a little thoughtful decision-making, retraining and application of willpower.”
Step away from the sofa
Sure the temptation is to spend the day under the duvet or curled around a hot water, but actually your slothenly ways are not gonna help. Switching off Netflix and doing some micro-bouts of exercise can have a real impact on both your mood and your pain levels. “Regular exercise, as long as it is not too intense, is important as it lowers cortisol production, explains Shona. “Exercise also increases the levels of those feel good brain chemicals called endorphins, which can improve your mood.”
Beat the bloat
When surfing the crimson wave, your stomach will likely feel more bloated than usual. Marilyn suggests cutting down your salt intake could help reduce bloating and water retention. “Don’t be tempted to limit your intake of fluids, which can actually increase bloating,” she says. “Your body will think it needs to conserve water, which exacerbates the problem. Water is a natural diuretic and it should be drunk as frequently as possible, particularly when you are retaining water,” she continues.
Take some time-out
Having told you to switch off Netflix, we’re now gonna tell you to put it back on. Because taking a bit of ‘you time’ to do whatever you want can be good for your wellbeing. “Set aside regular time to do something that you love and that makes you feel good: reading a good book, watching your favourite television programme, going for a massage, or having a long bath. Doing things that we love naturally lowers our stress hormones,” says Shona.
Come on we can manage a few booze-free days while aunt Flo is on a visit. Alcohol is a depressant, which could worsen PMS symptoms and dealing with a hangover when you’re hormonal is so not the one. Plus alcohol causes dehydration and makes us to want to to purge on salty, fatty, foods, which we’ve already established are out right now.
Swap your morning English breakfast for a cup of green tea. “Green tea is an excellent healthy mood booster,” explains Shona. “It contains some caffeine, which gives you a bit of a lift, but also contains the amino acid theanine. Theanine can have a relaxing effect and may help to relieve anxiety and mental stress, potentially by increasing your levels of serotonin, dopamine (responsible for reward and pleasure), and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA, which has a relaxant effect),”
Sure, it might be the last thing you feel like doing, but orgasms cause a surge in the feel good hormone oxytocin. This can help ease PMS and cramps and give your mood a boost too. Winning! (PS As long as you and your partner are cool with it, period sex is totally safe and enjoyable!)
Have an early night (to sleep this time *winky face emoji*)
The National Sleep Foundation says 30% of women complain about a lack of sleep while menstruating, probably because the core temperature can rise by almost half a degree after ovulation, which can make you feel less sleepy. Feeling tired and cranky is not the way to power through your period, so shut down social media and snuggle down for some much needed Zzzs. “To help you feel relaxed and ready for bed try to include plenty of magnesium-rich foods in your diet such as, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, fish and leafy green vegetables,” explains Cassandra. “I’d also recommend taking KalmAssure Magnesium Powder, by Natures Plus (£24.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk). This is a naturally chelated magnesium which is very easy to absorb and easily delivered to the tissues.”
What are your best tips for having a happier period? Share them with us @YahooStyleUK