By UnCrampMe Team

10 Foods to Help With Period Cramps, According to Experts

The next time that you experience period cramps, you may not need to grab that bottle of UnCrampMe!

As a complement to your UnCrampMe supplement, there are some foods that can help with period cramps. According to dietitians, these are the best foods to grab during your next grocery shopping trip if you want to be prepared for menstruation.

Key Takeaways

  • Eating healthy fruits and vegetables along with whole grains and lean protein can decrease period cramping while also replenishing lost nutrients like iron.
  • According to Lisa Richards, CNC, inflammation contributes to period cramping and pain. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods may be beneficial.
  • It’s important to stay hydrated during your period as well. You can use an electrolyte replenishment product to enhance hydration.
  • Resist those cravings for unhealthy food when you’re experiencing PMS or your period. Sugary foods and foods high in fat can increase inflammation and make your pain worse.

Can Certain Foods Help Ease Painful Period Cramps? We Asked the Experts

According to Catherine Rall, a Registered Dietitian, “When your uterine lining breaks down during menstruation, it releases large amounts of prostaglandins, some of which end up in your bloodstream. These are the compounds that lead to cramping and other uncomfortable symptoms, primarily because they trigger an inflammatory response in the body.”

When you consume a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins and nutrients, inflammation can decrease. There’s not necessarily one miracle food that will alleviate all of your symptoms, but incorporating as many healthy foods into your diet may help you reduce inflammation and decrease cramping during menstruation.

Rall also adds, “There’s a huge variety of anti-inflammatory foods out there, and most of them are great for your health in other ways, too. Things like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts.”

Let’s take a look at the top 10 foods that may help you manage your period cramps and pain.

10 Foods That May Help Manage Period Cramps and Pain

1. Salmon and other Omega-3 Fatty Fish

Fish is such a healthy food. Salmon and other varieties that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can be eaten a few times per week and may have the potential to decrease inflammation and pain. Salmon is also rich in vitamin D and B6. According to a study by Taylor and Francis Onlinehigh doses of vitamin D can have a profound impact on reducing menstrual pain.

2. Leafy Greens

Spinach and other leafy greens are extremely rich in iron. Iron levels decrease in most women who are experiencing a heavy period. When your iron levels are low, this can lead to worsening fatigue during your period and even afterwards.

Make yourself a big salad of leafy greens with other healthy vegetables and lean protein. You can also sauté some kale or spinach as a side dish for your dinner.

3. Bananas

Bananas contain high levels of vitamin B6 along with potassium. Both of these nutrients can help relieve bloating and cramping during your period. Plant-based foods, such as bananas, can decrease inflammation. According to Lisa Richards, CNC, “the inflammation that results from a woman being on her period contributes to cramping and pain. Intermittent fasting reduces inflammatory markers and therefore may reduce the amount, extent, and duration of period cramps and bloating.” If you’re not up for a fast, sticking to a simple smoothie with banana as its base can be beneficial for reducing your discomfort.

4. Oats

Oats are not only nutritious, but they also contain a good deal of fiber. That fiber can help with any GI issues that you may experience during your period, which often come along with cramping. You can enjoy a bowl of oatmeal first thing in the morning or consider putting a scoop of oats into a smoothie.

5. Eggs

Eggs contain nutrients such as vitamins B6, D, and E, all of which can reduce cramping, pain and inflammation. Eggs are also very high in protein, which can help you keep your energy up during menstruation.

6. Ginger

Ginger is such an amazing remedy for so many different ailments. It can help with the nausea that accompanies pain, as well as soothe any other GI ailments you’re experiencing. Ginger also contains salicylic acid, which prevents your nerves from making prostaglandins. This can lead to decreased pain and discomfort. Just be careful when using ginger if you have a known sensitivity to salicylates.

7. Dark Chocolate

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you twice to head to the pantry for a chunk of dark chocolate. A high-quality dark chocolate contains magnesium, which is extremely soothing and relaxing for cramping. Just stay away from high-sugar candy and junk foods that can increase inflammation in the body.

8. Peanuts/Peanut Butter

Also high in magnesium and possessing cramp-busting power, peanuts and peanut butter are excellent foods to keep around during your period. As long as you don’t have an allergy to peanuts, add a scoop to a bowl of oatmeal, use peanut butter powder in your smoothies or snack on a handful of plain, lightly salted peanuts.

Your goal should be to eat small meals or snacks throughout the day in order to keep your calorie intake up. While fasting has its benefits, it may not be ideal during your period. According to Lisa Richards, CNC, “Because the female body is very sensitive to calorie restrictions, intermittently fasting may result in irregular periods due to hormonal shifts. This will clearly alleviate period cramps, but is not recommended as a method to manipulate periods.”

9. Berries

Strawberries, blueberries and blackberries all have very potent anti-inflammatory properties. They also have the ability to promote natural detoxification. This can help alleviate cramping during your period. Berries are truly a superfood. The contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can help balance your blood sugar levels throughout the day, boost your immune response and even protect against cancer. You can buy berries fresh or frozen. I recommend purchasing organic berries if it’s in your budget and they are accessible. Unfortunately, non-organic berries tend to be sprayed pretty heavily with pesticides.

10. Beans

If you’re looking for a healthy way to increase your iron intake, beans are an excellent source that won’t raise your cholesterol like red meat. Kidney beans, chickpeas, navy beans and black beans can all support healthy hormone production and decrease inflammation as well.

According to Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, “consuming foods that are naturally anti-inflammatory can significantly reduce period cramps and bloating. Foods like fruit, legumes, nuts, and vegetables provide plant compounds, phytonutrients, that work to reduce inflammation in the body, which removes stress from the uterus and surrounding muscles.”

What Foods Should You Avoid During Period Cramps?

While you may be craving one or more unhealthy foods during your period, this is an important time to really focus on what you’re putting into your body. Not only can a healthy diet help reduce cramping, but it can also decrease inflammation and help regulate your hormones.

There are some foods that you should avoid while on your period. This includes:

Foods High in Salt

Increased sodium intake will lead to water retention. Most women experience some degree of bloating during their period, so it’s best to avoid consuming too much salt. This can be very difficult to avoid, especially when traveling on your period because as we all know it can be hard eating healthy at the airport or on vacation.

Pro tip: pack high-protein snacks that are low in sugar, sodium and calories. These can include protein bars or yogurt packets.

Caffeine

Caffeine during your period can prevent proper hydration and increase your pain levels. It can also make your anxiety and mood swings worse if that’s something you experience during your period.

Candy and Sweets

Refined sugar leads to an increase in inflammation, which can make cramping worse. It can also make you feel lousy and tired.

Alcohol

Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, increase inflammation and decrease circulation in the body. All of these things can lead to bad period cramping. Not to mention, plenty of other health issues can come from regular alcohol consumption. An occasional glass of wine or drink is alright, but may skip it when you’re experiencing PMS or your period.

What Junk Food Can I Eat On My Period?

If you’re craving junk food on your period, think twice. It’s best to stay away from unhealthy takeout, processed foods and items that are high in refined sugar while you’re on your period. In fact, it’s beneficial to stay away from these foods all the time. If you’re looking for a tasty treat to help boost your mood while you’re on your period, there are some exceptions that you can make.

Junk Food Alternatives

There are a lot of different snack foods and options available these days. While you may be craving potato chips, consider one of the healthier versions that are out there. There are low-fat, whole-grain options that provide you with many more health benefits. Instead of dairy-based dips, consider a vegetable salsa.

Trail Mix

Try making your own trail mix that contains healthy nuts and seeds. It’s ok if you break up some small pieces of dark chocolate and add those in as well.

Frozen Yogurt

Skip the ice cream and opt for a small dish of frozen yogurt. It has less fat, often less sugar, and it contains beneficial probiotics that can help alleviate cramping. For a healthy boost, add a handful of blueberries or strawberries to the top of your dessert.

Will Eating Sweets Delay My Period?

Consuming a lot of sweets during the month can lead to increased inflammation in the body. This can end up causing hormone disruption that can delay your period. Catherine Rall explains, “There’s a huge variety of anti-inflammatory foods out there, and most of them are great for your health in other ways, too. Things like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, and nuts. I definitely recommend adding as many of these as you can to your diet all month long, and not just because they’ll help with menstrual cramps.”

Final Thoughts

Even if you’ve dealt with period cramps your entire life, there are still healthy changes that you can make as an adult that can naturally decrease this issue. Food can be used as medicine in many cases, and it’s a powerful tool to help you feel your best no matter what point in your cycle you're at.

If you are focusing on a healthy diet and lifestyle, consider adding in a supplement that can help further boost your health and wellbeing. I recommend checking out UnCrampMe as a potential product that can help ease your menstrual cramp pain. Formulated with probiotics, a prebiotic and cramp bark, UnCrampMe is a very safe and effective way to reduce your cramping without dealing with the unpleasant side effects of over-the-counter pain remedies.