PMS sucks. You know it, I know it, your partner knows it.
Sometimes I think it’s crazy that we can put people on the moon, control billions of dollars electronically, create an entire artificially intelligent universe – but as a human race still can’t hack the monthly discomfort that half the population faces for a majority of their lives.
Through my journey as someone who has been menstruating for nearly 15 years, I am here to tell you that PMS is not a prerequisite for a period. PMS symptoms are closely linked to changing levels of oestrogen, serotonin, and progesterone: oestrogen rises during the first half of the menstrual cycle and drops during the second half. In some women, serotonin levels stay mostly steady. But in women with PMS, serotonin drops as oestrogen drops. And what happens when serotonin drops? We can experience lower levels of happiness and sleep, and higher levels of hunger and irritability, and confused levels of sexual behaviour and mood swings. Sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?
Now, I am not here to take away from the fact that you may experience a horrid PMS, I have too in the past – but there have been certain mindful changes and behaviours in my life that I have carried on for years at a stretch, that have virtually rid me of all my PMS symptoms – to a point where I wake up one morning and boom, it’s shark week. I hope these can help you the same way they have helped me.
Here we go.
1. Consume Higher Protein
Protein can help reduce bloating, reduce cravings, and improve energy levels.
It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way – since we are predisposed to bloat, we feel annoyed/stressed and end up eating comfort food (which is very often carb heavy, cakes/cookies and the like) and end up retaining even more water (as carbs do that to the body).
Protein is food for your muscles, and when your muscles are happy, you are happy. Protein takes a long time for your body to digest and keeps you fuller for longer, thereby reducing cravings.
It also keeps you energetic and prevents those energy crashes.
2. Build Muscle
Strength training can improve your mood, make you feel empowered, and improve quality of life.
It increases the production of endorphins, the body's natural painkillers, thereby making you feel less crampy and uncomfortable.
Lifting is also super empowering, it makes you feel unstoppable – when you have something boosting your serotonin, its super helpful in this annoying time of the month. Overall ensuring that you stick to your lifting routine even when PMSing can improve the quality of your life.
3. Consume more Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish and through an Omega 3 supplement (get in touch with me if you want to know which is the best kind to consume) can help reduce inflammation and relieve menstrual cramps.
4. Do Seed Cycling
Seed cycling involves consuming specific seeds during different phases of the menstrual cycle to balance hormones and reduce menstrual symptoms.
During the first half of the cycle (the follicular phase), flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are consumed, while during the second half (the luteal phase), sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are consumed.
Flaxseeds contain lignans, which can help balance oestrogen levels, while sesame seeds contain lignans and vitamin E, which can help balance progesterone levels.
5. Consume the right amount of fat in your diet
Consuming healthy fats such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help reduce inflammation (that swollen dull ache feeling you get in your whole body). Foods high in healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish. Dietary fat controls the quality of your PMS and period. Fat is awesome, eat it and don’t be afraid of it.
6. Regulate stress levels
Stress can worsen menstrual cycle symptoms by increasing levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can disrupt hormonal balance.
Your clothes don’t fit the same way, you’re getting annoyed by your partner’s breathing, your boss seems like she has it out for you more than usual – and we fall into that trap of self-inflicted doom.
Very often when we experience bloating, brain fog, inflammation and irritation – basically not feeling like our normal selves – we tend to get even more stressed, and it becomes a vicious cycle.
Please do not expect these changes to come to behavioural or experiential fruition in one cycle. This is years of consistency and striving to change your habits.
This is what has worked for me and scores of my clients. It comes from appreciating that every human is different and that things take longer for some than others.
But I can promise you, that this is a great place to start.