The monthly period cycle is something all women go through from menarche to menopause. We all experience varying degrees of common symptoms like cramps, bloating, indigestion, heavy breast, nausea, loss of appetite etc. For some, these symptoms are mild and for others these may be exaggerated. It is a part of our lives and we all have devised ways to deal with them. Food plays an important role in alleviating these symptoms to some extent.
First of all, a healthy lifestyle, 365 days a year, will help reduce the severity and may be even prevent acute period symptoms; so eat healthy and exercise daily. A healthy balanced diet with adequate hydration and nutrients is the strategy to follow during the periods.
Diet plan for healthy and comfortable periods must include:
1. Whole grains like whole wheat, oats and brown rice are a good choice. These provide fiber to prevent constipation and are also rich sources of B vitamins and antioxidants
2. Low-fat milk, preferably, dahi, lassi are a must. Indigestion is a problem so taking milk as dahi will help by adding probiotics and the calcium will help with the cramps. Lassi will add to hydration, which is of prime importance.
3. Healthy proteins from legumes, nuts, seeds, especially, flax and chia and salmon provide phytonutrients, omega-3 and help because proteins are needed to make up for the blood loss.
4. Lots of vegetables, especially the green leafy ones add fiber and provide iron to make up for blood loss. Vegetables also provide important antioxidants to keep the body stress-free.
5. Fruits add vitamins and antioxidants. Whole fruits are better than juices as the latter may lead to bloating because of excess sugar and no fiber. Juices like fresh lemon water and coconut water are good for hydration.
6. Healthy fats in limited quantities are essential. Avoiding fried foods to prevent aggravating indigestion.
(Also Read: 7 Effective Home Remedies For Irregular Periods)
So let's see what a day's sample diet plan can look like -
Ajwain/Jeera water: 1 tsp spice in 1-liter water, soaked overnight.
1 cup tea/ coffee
Oats/ Daliya with Dahi and a seasonal fruit. Sprinkle some flax seeds
Fruit + Lassi (either with black salt or plain - no sugar)
Brown Rice 1 cup / Chappati 2
Arhar Dal 1 bowl
Palak Sabzi 1 bowl
Dahi with Jeera 1 bowl
1 Whole Wheat Toast/ Makahana (Foxnuts) 1/2 cup
Soup/ Coconut water + 1 tsp Flaxseeds and 6-7 Almonds
Khichri with Vegetables -1 bowl / Quinoa Pulao 1 bowl + Mint and Coriander Chutney
Dahi / Hung Yogurt
- Eat at the same time daily. Finish your last meal by 9pm.
- Drink only one glass of water with the meal but have 2-3 liter in between.
- Chew your food well.
- Add flavor with spices like cinnamon, saunf, methi dana etc. to your food. Go easy on red chilies and garam masala. All spices help in digestion.
- Get a 30-minute walk or gentle stretches, it helps relieve cramps.
- Avoid foods laden with refined carbs, sugary drinks and fried foods.
- Skipping meals will make you feel drained out, eat every 2 hours if you find it difficult to eat in one go.
- Don't eat in your bed or reclining, the digestion is already stressed.
Research tells us that eating vegetables with adequate calcium and omega-3 content may help relieve menstrual symptoms. We also know that a daily healthy lifestyle will add up to relieve your symptoms from periods to menopause. Home remedies, which are natural ingredients based, are safe. Going salt free one day a week, especially when PMS sets in will help with the bloating.
Bottom line is that we need to hydrate well, eat iron, protein and calcium-rich foods to make up for the blood loss and stay comfortable every month.
Stay safe stay at home.
About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.