Cravings, Crankiness and Cramps! This week, I want to talk about a little something we all go through every month, but so many of us struggle with… PMS! I don’t know about you girls, but when I get my period, I tend to get headaches, feel pretty grumpy, my stomach bloats up, and not to mention all. the. cravings! If you want to find out some of the ways that I like to fight my PMS blues that threaten to ruin my day and fitness progress, then read on!
1. Get moving!
Exercise is a natural mood enhancer, so it will do wonders for relieving the grumpiness that goes hand in hand with that time of the month. It can also help with the discomfort of cramping and water retention that causes bloating. Now, I know we all have different experiences around our period - some suffer more pain than others - so take this into consideration when deciding how to train during this time.
For many, a proper training session is totally out of the question, so just a gentle walk, stretch or some light yoga will be enough to lift your mood without your body experiencing too much discomfort! For some, a simple home session from one of my home workout programs may be just what you need. Others may be able to hit the gym and just modify the intensity of their training session by lifting lighter, decreasing their reps or sets, or simply doing a shorter session. Then there will be the lucky ones that can train as normal during their period! The key message is to do the level of intensity that suits you and your body!
2. Stay hydrated!
Whether you’re feeling bloated, suffering from a headache or suffering from cravings, being sure to keep your fluid levels up will help to decrease the water retention associated with bloating. Staying well hydrated can also keep those niggly headaches at bay. I like to add lemon or grapefruit to my water bottle to add flavor and nutrients.
3. Listen to your body!
Try to check in with yourself and pay attention to the kind of foods you’re craving. Many women feel that chocolate, chips or ice cream are essential to getting through that time of the month. The science tells us that these cravings are largely due to the drastic changes in our hormones; estrogen and progesterone. This is something we go through every month for a large portion of our lives - so it’s actually super important that we learn how to deal with these cravings without having monthly blowouts every single time!
Listen to what your body is craving, and try out different kinds of foods to satisfy those cravings. Things like berries, cinnamon or just a smidge of dark chocolate will satisfy those cravings (without undermining your progress), a lot better than a whole tub of ice cream or bag of potato chips, as you’ll be nourishing your body whilst crushing your sweet tooth!
4. Keep a diary!
It makes sense to jot down your period in your diary, simply so you can track when it is due. But there are many benefits to taking your period tracking to the next level, and it can be as simple as putting a few notes in your journal about your mood, energy levels, flow length, food cravings, etc. This will help you to learn to predict the challenges that go hand in hand with getting your period, and then come up with ways to deal with these challenges. It will also be useful in identifying any issues if you become unwell or your period changes. You can do this by hand in your journal or diary or use a handy app on your phone such as Glow or Clue. These are my favorites because they allow you to track your cravings, moods and symptoms.
5. Eat Well
This may be easier said than done when it’s that time of the month, but it is so worth it! Eating plenty of vegetables, whole grains and fruit and decreasing high salt foods, caffeine and alcohol will leave your body feeling less bloated. You will sleep better, plus your moods will level out and be more predictable. If you feel like you need guidance or advice on how to incorporate more plant foods into your diet, my regular and plant-based meal plans provide you with lots of delicious recipes that are healthy too! In particular, foods that are rich in magnesium and calcium can be helpful, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, nuts, seeds, beans and tofu.
You can also try these quick pick me ups to help keep the cramps at bay:
• Take a warm bath, add some relaxing lavender, peppermint or rose oil
• Snuggle up with a hot water bottle
• Make a warm cup of tea
• Burn your favorite candle or essential oil (once again lavender, peppermint and rose can be particularly helpful) PMS is real and PMS happens to a lot of us! It’s time us girls recognise that we go through a lot, and that there are ways to combat this! Try some of my tips the next time you’re feeling those symptoms. The tips will also be able to help you decide whether you should seek the advice of a health professional!