The Best Food To Eat On Your Period
The Debrief: We got a nutrition expert to tell us exactly what we should be eating instead of that entire block of cheese (in our hands, like an apple)
A female user on Reddit recently documented everything she ate the two days leading up to, and including, her period and it's so heartening, especially if you're the sort of person who once bought a frozen chocolate cake and ate it frozen out of the box like a sandwich. I am. That's me.
Anyway, the afternoon of the Day Of Reckoning includes ice cream for lunch, two bowls of cereal (also for lunch), handfuls of chocolate chips (again, lunchtime) and that's before we've even got into dinner. A quick whip-round at The Debrief office, as well as the comments below the Reddit post ('Anyone else craving cinnamon toast crunch now?') show that this woman is not alone. Far from alone. Some replies included: 'An entire loaf of bread', 'A large giant Toblerone in one go', 'There was a girl at school who never used to eat the school food and always went to the local Chinese. But she never finished her food. She’d wrap it up in it’s box and place it in the bin. I got it out of the bin and ate it'. And there's a real guilt associated with the binges, considering they're usually really gross and end up with you feeling crap about yourself.
'I am a fairly fit 24-year-old woman who leads a healthy lifestyle, but my period - my period changes me. If you're with me, if you, too, transform into a ravenous beast with the phases of the moon - this post is for you,' says the redditor.
But should we really be that guilty for giving in to what our bodies are loudly commanding us to eat? And if not, what should you be eating instead? According to Jo Travers The Harley Street Nutritionist, eating right can actually reduce the food-beast rearing up when you're least expecting it (because you forgot your period was about to start). 'Eating a good balance of nutrients regularly throughout the day is they key to avoiding cravings in the first place,' she explains. 'Don't attempt a crash diet around your period (or ever actually) as the cravings will drive you crazy.'
Unfortunately, ice cream doesn't feature in her recommended list of period-friendly craving-busting foods. These usual suspects do, though:
Red meat, pulses and dark green leafy vegetables: No, a beefy bean salad isn't quite as good as a bin full of chinese food, but if you make a chilli con carne with spinach and beef then you're laughing all the way to your hot water bottle on the sofa. 'This is good because it has a high iron content; Iron is stored in the blood, which women lose a lot of during menstruation, so these losses need to be replaced. Iron deficiency can lead to anaemia, which is relatively common in women,' says Jo.
Fruits, veg, oats: 'Fruits, veg and oats have a high soluble fibre content that helps with constipation, which can sometimes happen during periods,' Jo says. A mate of mine used to swear by a bowl of porridge with blueberries and chopped apple as a Period Breakfast. While it didn't always work in terms of beating the cravings - it definitely helped with her stomach. Which would be constipated one moment, going hell-for-leather the next.
Fluid. Water, water, water, water, water and more water. 'Water retention is common during periods and actually drinking more can help with this,' Jo says and considering the amount of times I have to remove my rings during my period because of RFE (Rapid Finger Expansion), I can attest to the fact that shitloads of water really, really helps.
Whole grains: Having a cheese toastie? Make it a wholegrain bread cheese toastie. 'Low-GI carbohydrates provide plenty of energy and help maintain blood glucose levels, which ought to stave off cravings,' Jo adds. It'll stave off cravings for more cheese toasties, basically.
Oily fish, nuts & seeds: Everything down there is inflamed and going batshit, so eating foods with a high Omega 3 content will help soothe it all and sort out the inflammations (Omega 3 is an anti-inflammatory). 'High Omega 3 content: Anti inflammatory properties. 'Period pains are caused by contractions passing through the uterus and the rise of inflammatory chemicals called leukotrienes,' Jo says. 'Omega 3 oils are anti-inflammatory so might help with this. They are found in oily fish, walnuts, linseeds and vegetable oils.' WALNUT WHIPS AHOY.
And finally, is to OK to eat your own body weight in chocolate? Well, obviously not. You'd die. But it's OK to find yourself in a choco-coma once in a while: 'It's OK to indulge cravings sometimes,' says Jo. 'But if it becomes a habit, then it's not helpful, particularly if you crave unhealthy food!' Two days a month is fine, guys. Fine. Now go forth and chomp.
Like this? You might also be interested in:
Follow Stevie on Twitter: @5tevieM
At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating