Two of Australia’s leading dietitians have revealed what you should be eating on your period to help to manage cramps and curb cravings, and why it’s the week before your menstrual cycle hits that is often the worst week of the month for women.
Susie Burrell and Leanne Ward, from Sydney and Brisbane, are the hosts of The Nutrition Couch podcast, which looks at everything from food and diet trends to general advice about how you can improve your health.
In their latest episode, the pair discussed period health and how you should eat and train around your time of the month.
Two of Australia’s leading dietitians have revealed what you should be eating on your period to help to manage cramps and curb cravings (Leanne Ward and Susie Burrell pictured)
The best foods to eat on your period
* Dark chocolate
The pair agreed that it’s the week ahead of bleeding that is often the worst for women, and this is when you need to take charge of your health.
‘The five to 10 days before your period starts – often called the mid to late luteal phase – is when you might start feeling cramps and typical indicators of PMS,’ Leanne said on the podcast.
‘This is because progesterone and estrogen interplay and wreak metabolic havoc on the body.’
During that time, Leanne said you should think about upping your zinc, Omega-3 and magnesium levels.
You can do this by eating lots of meat, salmon, shellfish, legumes, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, dairy, wholegrains and eggs.
‘Load up your diet with these sorts of foods in the week leading up to your period and you’ll find that within three cycles, your PMS symptoms can become quite significantly reduced,’ Leanne said.
She warned that you shouldn’t expect to see the full benefits straight away.
But within three monthly cycles you should start to notice some reduction in pain from cramps.
Leanne (pictured) said that it’s the week ahead of bleeding that is often the worst for women, and this is when you need to take charge of your health
The dietitians recommend upping your wholegrains (pictured), meat, salmon and leafy greens in the week leading up to your period
Alongside eating more meat, legumes and wholegrains, the dietitians said it is fine to give yourself a bit of a break from training in the week before and during your period.
‘In those first few days leading up to our period, our core temperature is raised so we’re a lot hotter, we sweat more and this can make exercise more difficult because we have a harder time cooling our body,’ Leanne said.
‘In terms of females working out, we can’t access stored carbohydrates as well in the days leading up which makes it really hard to hit those higher-intensity workouts or big lifts.’
Susie said there is actually a scientific reason for cravings during our time of the month, and this is because we actually need between 120 and 200 calories more during this time.
‘I don’t give clients permission to go and eat a block of chocolate just because they’re craving it, but I do acknowledge that that desire is real and the body does need extra calories,’ she said.
‘It’s not a time to be overly restrictive with your diet. Indulge, but buy portion-controlled treats like individual chocolates or ice creams.’
Finally, the pair (pictured) said things like vegetable juices can go a long way to making you feel better when you’re on your period, as they can help with the fluid retention
Finally, the pair said things like vegetable juices can go a long way to making you feel better when you’re on your period.
They work wonders at getting rid of some of the fluid retention we are so prone to carrying.
‘My favourite trick when it comes to fluid retention is to drink a really rich vegetable juice, like a beetroot, celery or carrot,’ Susie said.
‘These have an incredibly high load of potassium that can help to rid your body of that fluid and make you feel a bit lighter, particularly if you have an event coming up.’
The pair concluded by saying you should always consult your GP or health professional if you think there is something that ‘isn’t normal’ about your period, whether it’s unbearable pain or a heavy flow.
You can follow The Nutrition Couch podcast on Instagram here.