A period can trigger bloating, cramps, pain and gastric trouble. What you eat will impact how you feel...

The monthly period cycle can trigger different symptoms—bloating, irritability, an upset tummy and cramps. One way to dodge the uneasiness and pain is by eating mindfully. We asked nutritionists to share their diet diary for chummy days so you can take some tips and not let the red tide take you down.

The symptoms
During your period, as the uterus contracts to expel its lining, the release of prostaglandins (which make up the lining) are responsible for discomfort, cramps, bloating, and irritability.
Every woman shows different symptoms and there’s no one rule that fits all. Some breeze through their periods, while others have no choice but to pop pain killers and reach out for their trusted friend—the hot water bottle—for relief.
“During my periods, I stick to eating rice-based meals, be it dal-chawal, dahi-idli or kheer,” says Lovneet Batra, clinical nutritionist, Delhi. She adds: “It helps me stay energetic without feeling bloated.” She begins her day with ajwain water, one tablespoon of cold pressed coconut oil and a banana to ease her discomfort. Shweta Bhatia, Mumbai-based sports nutritionist, on the other hand, maintains a regular low carb diet through the year. 

Check yourself
First of all, “Make sure you are not deficient in vitamin D and calcium as deficiency increases menstrual pain,” advises Batra. She also recommends loading up on magnesium rich foods, such as rajma, chickpeas, green, and almonds to reduce discomfort. A fresh home-cooked meal made in ghee also helps. You could also feel uncomfortable if your diet consists of raw and high fibre food. 

Curb your cravings
Stay away from junk food and sugary desserts, even though you may crave them the most. “These can make you more irritable, worsen acne (if you’re prone) and induce more cravings,” says Bhatia. Batra advises to avoid biscuits and chips. “These hardly ever induce satiety and make you crave more sugar and salt, she says.” Instead when hungry focus on eating wholesome balanced meals.  “Which means paneer parantha, dal-rice, dahi-idli should be your go-to foods rather than chips, biscuits, burgers, or chicken nuggets, she adds. In case you have a sweet tooth, Batra recommends keeping clear of dishes with refined flour and dairy—such as rasgulla, kheer and phirni

Beat the Bloat
Raw salads and uncooked vegetables can cause bloating. To cut this down, “focus on eating soft vegetables cooked in ghee, advises Batra.” Half of the menstruating population gets cramps while one in seven women suffer from severe pain. Batra has a homemade recipe for the discomfort: Boil a glass of water with 2 teaspoons of ajwain (carrom seeds). After two boils, add 1 teaspoon of jaggery and consume the beverage hot. In case of excessive pain, ensure that you’re not on a fat-free diet and consult a gynaecologist.

Conditions apply
Hormonal conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) can cause heavy bleeding and make your periods erratic. In case of a delayed period, it leads your uterine lining to build up causing a heavy period. “Focus on eating a plant-based food such as a bowl of lentils, amaranth, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds, suggests Batra. If you have PCOS, avoid excessive caffeine, alcohol, refined flour or maida, and processed packed food,” she adds. Make a habit of reading the labels carefully to spot any unrecognisable ingredients. A regular period cycle is a sign of healthy hormonal activity, an intricate co-dependency that regulates several functions of your body. So feed it the right things!

Image used for representational purposes only.

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