It can be a vicious cycle—that menstrual cycle. It makes you feel sluggish and tired, craving terrible foods, keeping you from running and getting your workouts in. Or, heaven forbid, you’re on it come race day! There’s no magic pill to give you your energy back (or your happy-go-lucky disposition)…but you can eat foods to lessen the blow.
So. what are the best foods to eat during your period?
I asked nutritionist and Mother Runner of two Betsy Johnson. She says, first you need to make sure you’re eating ENOUGH to ward off cravings and feel energized (especially after a workout and at dinner since those treat temptations seem to haunt us after 9 p.m.). And, she tells us the best foods to eat during your period.
So here are the best foods to eat during your period:
Iron-rich foods top the list for Betsy as your body is obviously losing a lot of iron during your period. And being deficient in iron can make you feel terrible—foggy brain, tired, ornery. Foods like salmon and other fatty fish, beans like lentils, sunflower seeds, tofu, leafy greens and lean red meats have lots of iron. Check out Betsy’s delicious recipe
for flank steak with sweet potatoes and veggies for an iron kick.
We’re talking Greek yogurt, mozzarella cheese, cottage cheese, almonds, broccoli, and leafy greens. Why? Because research shows that calcium can be a natural way to reduce menstrual cramps. All these foods got it.
Other research shows that magnesium can reduce PMS headaches, cravings, and bad moods. You can take a supplement or incorporate treats like almonds, dark chocolate, popcorn, and pumpkin seeds into your diet. (These popcorn bars are delicious!). You can also take an Epsom salt bath (which benefits your tired muscles).
Related: Pantry-staple meals
Fiber keeps things moving so you feel less bloated. Plus, studies show it helps the body eliminate estrogen which is the culprit behind most of your bad feelings this time of the month. Add to your plate almonds (again!), apples, beans, berries, sweet potatoes, whole grains like quinoa, and chia seeds (yummy in a smoothie, on cereal, or in yogurt).
Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12.
A small Danish study found that putting these two together significantly lowered menstrual symptoms likely because of their power in reducing inflammation. The women in the study took supplements, but you an get your dose by eating eggs, flaxseeds, nuts, seafood, and yogurt.
Related: What to eat after a long run
1 billion people (ONE BILLION!) are deficient in Vitamin D. And Vitamin D is really important for a lot of things including regulating your period and boosting energy levels, bolstering mood, and fighting insomnia. I found out I was Vitamin D deficient and since taking it have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels and immunity to the illnesses my kids bring home. I take a supplement, but you can also get it from fish oils, fortified milk, and egg yolks.
Also, drink lots of water and stay away from fatty foods which can keep your estrogen levels high. Betsy also notes—hey, it’s okayto feel fatigued during your period. Eating better will help you feel better—but allow yourself this time to not feel 100% of a badass Mother Runner.
P.S. Here’s a sample PMS grocery list:
- Oily fish like salmon
- Beans like lentil or black
- Seeds like pumpkin, sunflower, flax or chia
- Leafy greens like spinach or kale
- Sweet potatoes
- Greek yogurt
- Mozzarella sticks
- Dark Chocolate
And be sure to check out this article on how to make sure you’re ready to whip up a healthy meal at the drop of a hat.