How To Have An Awesome Period (Part 1)
This is the first installment of a two part series that will teach you how to have an awesome period.
I know what you’re thinking… how on earth can you possibly make your period enjoyable? Your period is actually a sacred time in your cycle. It’s when the right and left hemispheres of your brain are more connected because the membrane between them thins. This allows you to tap into your intuition more, which is why it’s such a shame that so many women dread this time of the month.
This might sound crazy right now, but it is possible to have an awesome period once you learn to honor your cyclical nature and apply some simple nutrition + lifestyle habits.
It turns out there’s a lot you can do to avoid the hormonal imbalances that cause PMS because believe it or not PMS is not normal. It is common but does not need to be your reality every month. It’s a sign from your body that there is an imbalance.
Here are the first 3 ways, plus specific actions you can start taking right now to actually enjoy your period.
Reduce Inflammatory Foods
Inflammatory foods are foods that are potentially irritating to your digestive system, which can then cause inflammation that impacts your entire body and wellbeing. Inflammation increases production of certain prostaglandins, or pro-inflammatory hormones, that are released to constrict the blood vessels in the uterus in order to make its muscle layer contract–meaning they cause cramps and can also cause headaches, back pain, and digestive distress.
The big 3 inflammatory foods that you want to avoid are gluten (found in all wheat products, breads, pastas, cake/desserts, etc.) dairy (milk, cream, cheese, yogurt) and sugar (found in almost everything in a package).
Another life-changing elimination you can make is caffeine. Hear me out. Caffeine causes your adrenals to release a stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is not bad, we need it, but too much of it causes more stress and can lead to blood sugar imbalances and feelings of anxiety. If you struggle with anxiety and/or cravings, it’s worth experimenting with after you’ve eliminated gluten, dairy, and sugar.
Nourish Your Body + Gut
While eliminating inflammatory foods is important, adding in nourishing foods that are also gut supportive is just as essential for having an awesome period. The first type of foods we want to focus on is anti-inflammatory foods. Remember those pro-inflammatory prostaglandins? We can help reduce those and increase anti-inflammatory prostaglandins through food.
The most effective anti-inflammatory food is those that contain omega 3 fatty acids. Why? These fats help our bodies make anti-inflammatory hormones, and help balance out our omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Omega-3 rich foods like wild caught salmon, chia seeds and flaxseeds, and grass-fed butter are great sources to incorporate into your meals.
There are also two anti-inflammatory roots that have been shown to reduce inflammation and even improve cramps. Sign me up!
The first one is turmeric, which comes in root, powdered, and liquid form. You can use 2-3 tsp of the powdered spice in your meals and get around 300-500mg of powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. If you’re consuming the fresh turmeric root, that equates to about 3-4g and about 5ml of liquid turmeric extract.
Ginger is the other root and is known for helping to reduce nausea but is actually extremely effective for cramps. It’s also great for balancing blood sugar, which can really help improve mood during your period. Consuming 2g of ginger root had been shown to be effective for pain and cramps. Celery ginger juice is a great way to consume ginger and not only help reduce cramps but support your adrenal glands as well.
Gut supportive foods such as fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, beet kvass, raw apple cider vinegar) and bone broth are also really helpful this time of the month and leading up to it. Digestive distress is common during your period and by proactively eating these foods regularly, you can help minimize this.
Manage Your Stress
Stress easily has the biggest impact on hormone balance, which plays a huge role in PMS and having an awesome period. For example, if you have a lot of stress and this keeps you from ovulating, then you may have lower progesterone that month and cause estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance leads to a lot of unwanted symptoms.
Common symptoms of estrogen dominance:
- Increased PMS symptoms
- Mood swings
- Breast tenderness and/or fibrocystic breasts
- Weight gain around hips and thighs
- Menstrual migraines or headaches, especially right around your period
- Irritability or depressed mood
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Acne (especially cystic)
You can also have low estrogen such as:
- Vaginal dryness
- Mood swings
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Breast tenderness
- Irritability or depressed mood
Excessive stress can also lead to anxiety. It really can be the root of a lot of health issues, period health included. There are a lot of ways to address stress and the best thing to do is to experiment to find what works for you, but below are some ideas.
Top 3 Ways To Reduce Stress:
1. Create a routine. Your adrenal glands (release stress hormone) love a routine. If you can go to bed and wake around the same hours this is one really powerful way to reduce stress and balance hormones.
2. Prioritize reflection. Sometimes we don’t even know something is bothering us or that we have a solution to a problem until we take a minute to sit down and think about it. My favorite form: journaling! Journaling is like whispering to yourself and listening at the same time and can be very therapeutic.
3. Take a deep breath. Breathing is the fastest and cheapest way to get your body to immediately relax. When in doubt (or feeling super overwhelming) take a deep breath. You can consider using an app like Breathe2Relax.
That’s it for now. Look out for the last two tips (plus a bonus) in part 2!