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Updated 31 July 2013

Beat PMS with diet

It's that time of the month again and you are feeling grumpy and miserable. Does the answer lie in what you eat?

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It's that time of the month again and you are feeling grumpy and miserable. Does the answer lie in what you eat?


Step 1: Understanding the relationship between Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and food

About 80% of women experience some features of PMS. Fortunately, only a minority (estimated at 10%) of women have severe enough PMS symptoms to impact their work, relationships or lifestyle in a significant way.

Proper diet, exercise and lifestyle changes can help symptoms before resorting to over-the-counter or prescription medications. Most women can control their PMS symptoms successfully so that they do not interfere with their leading healthy and productive lives.

Step 2: Adopting new healthy habits

  • Make dietary changes (see Step 3).
  • Exercise regularly. Exercise can help relieve some of the symptoms of PMS. Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes should be done three to five times a week. Swimming, walking and dancing are "low-impact" aerobic activities. They avoid the muscle and joint pounding of more "high-impact" exercises like jogging and skipping. Benefits include cardiovascular fitness, muscle tone, weight control or reduction, decrease in fluid retention and increase in self-esteem.
  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars.
  • Increase intake of complex carbohydrates, magnesium and zinc, vitamins A, E and B6.
  • Do daily relaxation and breathing exercises to reduce stress.

If there is no relief of symptoms and PMS significantly interferes with functioning, medication may be necessary.

Step 3: Understanding the basic principles of a diet to reduce symptoms of PMS

  • Never skip meals. To maintain your blood sugar levels, it is better to eat small amounts more often.
  • When you are premenstrual, your calorie requirements increase by 500 calories a day.
  • Eat two snacks per day in addition to your usual three meals.
  • Eat protein at both lunch and supper.
  • Reduce fat and sugar consumption.
  • Drink eight glasses of water a day.
  • Make sure you eat at least three portions of fruit and vegetables (preferably green leafy ones) every day.
  • Avoid eating large amounts of refined sugar (sweets, cakes and biscuits).
  • Rather stick to dried or fresh fruit.
  • Keep salt consumption to a minimum as salt makes your body water-retentive.
  • Make sure you eat a diet rich in magnesium, zinc and chromium, essential fatty acids and vitamins B, C and E. Eat fish at least twice during this time.
  • Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates (for example, pasta and rice).
  • Avoid caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, cola drinks and chocolate.

 
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