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Diet do's and don'ts for PMS

A woman drinks a glass of water at her kitchen counter

Aug. 24, 2021—For some women, the days before and during the beginning of their period can be very uncomfortable. Bloating. Depression. Aches and pains. Anxiety. Food cravings. Breast tenderness.

These are just a few of the physical and emotional symptoms caused by premenstrual syndrome (PMS). They can range from mildly annoying to seriously interfering with daily life.

That's no surprise to most women, but this might be: Did you know that what you do—and don't—eat and drink before your period may help ease PMS symptoms?

From the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and other experts, here are some tips to try in the two weeks leading up to your period:

DO choose complex carbs. A diet rich in complex carbohydrates may reduce mood symptoms and food cravings. Choose whole-grain versions of foods like bread, pasta and cereals. Other good options include brown rice, beans, barley and lentils.

DON'T overdo fat, salt and sugar. Cutting back on salt, for instance, can ease PMS symptoms like water retention and bloating.

DO go for calcium. It may help reduce symptoms like fatigue, cravings and depression. This essential mineral is not just in dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese. It's also found in kale, broccoli, fortified cereals, tofu prepared with calcium, canned sardines and almonds.

DON'T drink caffeine. You may feel less tense and have less breast soreness.

DO eat smaller, more frequent meals. Eating six small meals a day instead of three large ones can help smooth out your blood sugar levels.

DON'T drink alcohol. Because wine, beer, liquor and other alcoholic drinks are depressants, they can bring your mood down in the days before your period.

Every woman's body is different. So you might want to experiment to see what works for you. A few small changes may give you some relief from monthly PMS symptoms.

Looking for more ways to tackle your PMS symptoms? Learn more about lifestyle changes and medications that may help.

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