Food

Women's Health (UK) - - FOOD AWARDS -

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.

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