When it comes to dealing with endocrine ups and downs, it pays to chop and change what you’re eating.
‘Do your body a favour during weeks one and four of your cycle (week one begins on the day you start your period) and try to cut out caffeine and alcohol,’ says nutritionist Akcelina Cvijetic. ‘They both encourage inflammation and stress throughout your internal systems, which can make cramping, bloating, breast tenderness and irritability worse. Stock up on avocados and oily fish – they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help reduce inflammation, pain and breast tenderness. Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and rocket contain magnesium, which, when combined with calcium-rich foods like tahini and yoghurt, can have a calming effect on your nervous system, helping to ease cramping. Introduce cucumber,
AVOCADOS ARE RICH IN OMEGA-3 AND CAN HELP REDUCE PAIN AND BREAST TENDERNESS
fennel and celery into your diet, as these are excellent for alleviating water retention.’
Find yourself polishing off bowls of pasta and knocking back bar after bar of Dairy Milk during your period? There’s no shame in that – your progesterone and oestrogen levels have tanked, causing major bouts of fatigue. So you end up craving energyboosting foods, and there’s nothing like carbs and sugar for an instant energy hit. If you’ve got the willpower, do try to swerve the sugar bombs, though – they’ll play havoc with your blood sugar levels and just heighten the cravings. Opt for energising foods like nuts, eggs and oranges (for more, see page 56). The oestrogen and progesterone imbalance also creates a dip in the happy hormone serotonin. ‘Low levels of serotonin have been linked with increased cravings for sweet foods and carbohydrates, too,’ adds Cvijetic. ‘Hence why chocolate becomes a PMS staple. It’s worth trying foods rich in tryptophan – like turkey, hummus and bananas – as this is a precursor of serotonin and thus can help heighten your mood and reduce your sugar cravings.’ Go bananas.