Cravings, Bloating, and Mood Swings (aka PMS) and How to Decrease Symptoms

Alright ladies, lets chat about something that is unpleasant, a little embarrassing, and a complete nuisance… Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).  Yes, I know, not the funnest topic, but the truth is that 95% of women within child-bearing years suffer from PMS symptoms, and it’s an important aspect of a women’s overall health and wellbeing…so here we go.  Symptoms of PMS include, but are not limited too:  

  • Bloating and/or weight gain
  • Decreased energy
  • Headaches
  • Cramps
  • Food cravings, typically sweet and/or salty cravings
  • Low sex drive
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings/irritability
  • Breast tenderness

If you are one of the lucky 5% that doesn’t have any of these symptoms before your special monthly visitor, then you have no need to read any further…but if you are like the 95% of us, then read on…

PMS is caused by a change in hormone levels during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle (a spike in progesterone and smaller spike in estrogen), in other words, your hormones cause unpleasant symptoms right before your period is about to start.  I know personally, I suffer from some of these symptoms; mostly notably food cravings, headaches, and irritability.  Interestingly, these symptoms have been more noticeable since having kids (oh, the things babies do to our bodies:).  The headaches and irritability are annoying, but food cravings are down right maddening if you are working toward weight loss goals.  

Although, there isn’t any magic pill that can make the symptoms go away completely, there are definitely things you can do that will help.  Here are a few simple natural remedies that you might want to try.

Monitor Your Cycle

There are multiple free apps available that can help you keep track of your cycle.  They will give you predicted ovulation and menstruation dates, allow you to take notes, and tell you when you are mostly likely to conceive (if that is something you are interested in).  I like to keep track for a few reasons: when I find myself getting irrationally irritable with my family (it happens), I can usually identify why, which helps me change my attitude.  No one wants to be the girl where everyone knows when it is “that time of month” due to her mood.  I also like tracking my cycle, so I am not taken off guard when it comes, and can plan accordingly.  The app I use is on the iPhone called Period Lite.

Increase your Calcium and Vitamin D Intake

Studies have shown that an increase in calcium and vitamin D can help decrease PMS symptoms.  Enjoy foods that are high in calcium such as; 

You may also want to consider a daily calcium supplement.  I take a daily Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc supplement.  

To get some additional vitamin D, get outside and absorb some sunlight, or include eggs (the entire egg – the yolk contains the nutrients), salmon, or a slice of your favorite cheese into your diet.  I don’t recommend taking a vitamin D supplement until consulting with your physician first.  Vitamin D can be a little bit of a tricky supplement, and I don’t recommend self prescribing.

Exercise

Isn’t it amazing how exercise seems to be the answer for everything :).  It really is the wonder pill.  Anyways, regular exercise can help decrease PMS symptoms.  I know a good sweat is always a good remedy for me when I am feeling hormonal and blah.  

De-Stress

Although stress isn’t known to cause PMS, it can make PMS symptoms worse…so find something that helps you relax.  Go for a walk, read a book, take a bath, schedule a massage or pedicure, etc.  It will make you feel better, and who doesn’t love a few quit moments alone (they are hard to come by as a mom).

Indulge

I know I crave sugar and chocolate around that time of month.  I used to try and ignore my cravings, which would work for a little while, sometimes even a few months at a time, but inevitably I would give in, and instead of indulging – I would binge.  Now I try to honor my cravings by indulging in a little bit of chocolate or sweets, it is a much healthier alternative to a sugar laden binge.  I recommend whipping up a batch of Dark Chocolate Flourless Fudge Brownies or keeping an emergency stash in the freezer.

 

How do you manage PMS symptoms?

Did your symptoms get worse after having kids?

 

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