PMS (ugh)

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This isn’t news to any of us, but Premenstrual Syndrome can definitely impact our fitness goals—it hits us with a double whammy…

  1. Food cravings that drive us towards carb & fat laden foods

2. Bad moods, lack of energy & bloating that encourage us to say “To hell with it!”

But a week’s worth of worth of indulging cravings, comfort eating and skipping exercise can overshadow the hard work we’ve put in hitting our numbers! The result: we don’t lose any weight—or worse still, actually gain a little.

So what can we do???

Here are a few ideas/ useful facts!

TRACK YOUR CYCLE

If you have a regular cycle, mark out the last week in your calendar so that you are mentally prepared for what is about to happen. SO many times we have been caught off guard asking:

Why do I feel like this?...Why am I so hungry... Why do I just want carbs? Why is my digestion off?

A few days later… oh that’s why…

(maybe you can identify lol…)

PLAN AHEAD & MANAGE STRESS

Knowing when Aunt Flow is coming to town can help you gameplan. Avoid planning stressful activities during this *special* times...anything that exacerbates stress fuels yearnings for high-calorie comfort foods. Prioritize stress management with the following tools:

Meditation and/ or deep breathing

Yoga

Get enough sleep & rest

Get a massage

Don’t over commit yourself

Make time for fun & relaxation

Connect with others or spend time alone!

Avoid becoming overly hungry, eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Skipping a meal will only make you more irritable as blood sugar levels plummet.

EAT PLENTY OF COMPLEX CARBS

Opt for foods that release glucose into the blood slowly and steadily to help prevent dips that can make symptoms such as irritability, cravings, poor concentration and tiredness even worse. When you feel the grumpies coming on, grab a snack high in complex carbs! Good choices include:

Whole grain cereals & breads, whole wheat pasta,oatmeal, brown rice. (Better still, these foods help boost serotonin in the brain & may help to reduce bloating, breast tenderness and mood swings

Most fruit and vegetables.

FILL UP ON FOODS RICH IN FATTY ACIDS

The body uses the amino acid called tryptophan to make serotonin, and fatty acids can have an anti-inflammatory effect. Good sources include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts and seeds.

AVOID SALT & DRINK PLENTY OF WATER

A high-salt diet makes fluid retention worse by encouraging the body to hold on to water. Flavor meals with garlic, herbs or spices rather than salt and eat fewer salty foods. Aim to drink ½ your body weight in oz’s of water (or more) to help flush the body out and reduce bloating (this may sound counter-intuitive, but a bloated body is holding on to too much water, likely because of too much salt).

TACKLE FOOD CRAVINGS WITH EXERCISE

Any physical activity, from swimming to running, that gets the heart going will raise serotonin and lower cortisol levels. It can be tough to keep to a regular workout schedule when you’re not feeling your best, but even a 10-minute walk will put a serious dent in your cravings (plus if you sweat a lot, you’ll get rid of water and feel less bloated)!

CONSIDER SUPPLEMENTS

Consider taking one or more of the following supplements (As always, tell your doctor about any supplements you're taking to avoid any possible drug interactions, and let her know if PMS is causing you a lot of problems).

A fish oil supplement

A daily multivitamin

100 milligrams of vitamin B-6 a day*

600 milligrams of calcium carbonate with vitamin D daily, along with at least one calcium-rich food serving

400 milligrams of magnesium oxide*

*Taking B-6 and magnesium at these levels may temper mood changes, and magnesium may reduce water retention.

OTHER TIPS:

  • Cut back on refined sugar, salt, caffeine (coffee, tea, and soft drinks), dairy, and alcohol. These are all inflammatory in the body and worsen PMS symptoms.

  • Increase fiber — fruit, veggies, legumes, seeds, and grains. Fiber can help with cravings, balance hormones and absorbs the excess estrogen in the gut- preventing it from going into the blood and causing inflammation.

  • Up your intake of broccoli and cauliflower. These veggies sweep out excess estrogen.

  • Make sure to include protein with each meal. Consuming protein — and snacking smartly — can help you beat cravings.