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Nutrition for PMS: Part I

Nutrition for PMS: Part I

Fatigue, acne, mood swings, bloating, cramping — these symptoms are uncomfortably familiar for the more than 3-in-4 women that experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS), as estimated by the Mayo Clinic.

PMS refers to recurring or cyclic symptoms, both physical and mental or emotional, that occur in the phase of a biological female’s cycle immediately before the onset of menstruation. There are more than 150 symptoms associated with PMS in medical literature. In additional to the few symptoms listed above, some of the most common PMS complaints include:

  • Breast tenderness

  • Weight gain

  • Poor sleep

  • Irritable bowel (constipation or diarrhea, or a combination thereof)

  • Anxiety, feeling depressed and/or irritability

  • Cravings

  • Headaches

Here are a few tips for helping to alleviate symptoms of PMS.

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Stay well-hydrated

As you likely know, hydration is important for nearly all bodily functions. Specific to PMS, if a person tends not to drink enough water, the body will retain more water to survive. This increases swelling and bloating.

Avoid sugar, alcohol, caffeine and excessive salt-intake

Hormone balancing and liver support can be key aspects when attempting to reduce or eliminate PMS symptoms. Although the most research exists to support avoiding or limiting alcohol intake to improve PMS symptoms, sugar, caffeine, and excessive salt all put more stress on the liver, which may worsen symptoms. The fact is, none of these foods are health building, and as the old adage goes, “When in doubt, keep it out!”

Include high-quality essential fats and adequate protein in your diet

Look for EFA and protein sources like oily fish, walnuts, and beef liver.

Choose your carbohydrate foods carefully!

Focus on root vegetables and winter squashes rather than refined grains or sugars.

Eat your greens!

Both the mint and cruciferous vegetable families are particularly beneficial for those with PMS.

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Indulge in delicious and comforting foods

Enjoy some foods that make you feel good, but are also beneficial, like berries and cacao.

When to seek professional support

You deserve to feel vibrant and well throughout your entire cycle. If PMS is holding you back from feeling your best, don’t hesitate to reach out for professional support. Despite North American norms, you don’t have to live with PMS! In addition to the dietary recommendations above, there are many lifestyle, supplemental, and other dietary treatment options available to get to the root of the issue and help you feel balanced again!


“Nutrition for PMS: Part II” will dive deeper into specific foods to support PMS. Look for the new article coming soon!

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