PMS stands for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, and as you know, it can be a real beast. During this part of your cycle, estrogen and progesterone are on the decline which may leave you feeling irritable, fatigued, and just not so good. In addition to estrogen and progesterone decline, you will also have a drop in serotonin which is responsible for mood regulation. It’s common for PMS to be accompanied by intense cravings for high-calorie high carbohydrate foods. Luckily by a couple of days into your menstrual cycle, you are likely feeling better, but what’s the deal with PMS? Do you just have to deal with it?
While a certain amount of symptoms are considered normal and even healthy (because it lets you know your hormones are functioning) if you are truly miserable, changing up your nutrition strategy may help improve your symptoms. W
Tryptophan-Rich Protein Sources
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce more serotonin. Foods high in tryptophan are common high protein foods such as:
- Seeds (like pumpkin and sunflower)
- Cottage Cheese
You want to make sure you get a good dose of these foods at every single meal. We build WTE? Meal Plans (both custom plans and subscription plans) to have 100 grams of protein a day and around 25 grams per day. Not only will more protein help you fight those cravings but it will also help you get enough tryptophan.
Focusing on high-quality carbs will reduce your cravings for processed foods and sugar! The declining hormones leave you feeling wiped out and exhausted. Similar to not getting enough sleep, your body craves high-calorie quick energy sources to help give you more energy. The problem is that if you give into every single one of these cravings, you may end up on a blood sugar roller coast that lasts all day and leads to fat gain that sticks around even after your period has gone. So what is the solution? Focus on high-quality carbohydrates in moderate quantities.
- Brown Rice
- Sweet Potatoes
- Other whole grains
WTE? Meal Plans are carefully built to ensure steady energy throughout the day. Each day has around 130-150 grams of carbohydrates per day or about 30 per meal. This is considered “low carb” by conventional standards but isn’t so low carb (I’m looking at you obnoxious keto) that it further zaps you of energy. That’s perfect for fighting cravings and balancing energy levels which fights symptoms of PMS.
Healthy fats will also help to fight those cravings, but they will also help boost your production of hormones by providing the right building blocks. You want enough high quality healthy anti-inflammatory fats so that your body can build the hormones that catapult you out of PMS. HIgh-quality fats include but are not limited too:
- Brazil Nuts
- Other nuts
- Chia Seeds
- Grass-fed dairy products
- Grass-fed Meat
In our meal plans, we make sure that only healthy fat is included so you don’t have to think about it, just follow the grocery list! We regularly include all the foods listed above because variety is key to optimal nutrition (all the time, not just when you have PMS!)
Fats with GLA
Most omega six fatty acids (sunflower, soybean, safflower oil, etc.) are inflammatory by nature, except for one type of omega six fatty acids called gamma linoleic acid. This type of omega 6 is the exception to the omega 6 rule (why are there are always exceptions?) because it exerts an anti-inflammatory effect and studies have shown a profound impact on the reproductive system. Supplementing with GLA has been shown to reduce PMS symptoms in duration and length such as cramping, irritability, and fatigue by significant amounts. I usually recommend taking it in the second half of your cycle. Sources of GLA include hemp oil, borage oil, and spirulina. You can always pour some hemp oil on top of a salad or use it in place of extra virgin olive oil starting on day 14 of your cycle through the day you start your period.
As you can see, there is no magic bullet to getting rid of your PMS symptoms. However, a healthy high protein, moderate carb and fat diet can help ease symptoms significantly. Many of our subscribers report more normalized periods and lessened PMS symptoms after trying the meal plans for just 30 days. And, if you need more help do to conditions such as PCOS, irregular, or absent periods, the custom meal plan + nutrition coaching is always a great option. You’ll work with a Registered Dietitian to determine your goals and then they will build a plan that is customized to your needs. One powerful tool for balancing hormones I often work into custom meal plans is seed cycling.