What to Eat During Your Period

Foods that can help relieve menstruation side effects – and some to avoid during that time of the month.
Published May 4, 2022

Menstruation often brings with it a lengthy list of uncomfortable and downright painful side effects, from bloating and tiredness to cramps and nausea to headaches. While there are always over-the-counter pain relievers and hot water bottles, there is also relief to be found in the foods we eat. And we can also help prevent some symptoms from worsening by avoiding certain foods.

What to avoid on your period

Holistic health coach Virginia Gruhler recommends avoiding any inflammatory foods, as they might “make your period cramps worse and disrupt your hormones further.”

“This includes fried food, processed/packaged food, seed oils, fast food, refined white sugar, and white flour,” she says.

Registered dietitian Johna Burdeos, RD LC CNSC, adds to that list alcohol, which she says can worsen sleep, headaches, and digestive issues. She also recommends avoiding spicy foods and caffeine, both for their potential to cause digestive issues.

“If you have digestive issues during your period and drink coffee, see if cutting back helps,” she says.

What to eat during that time of the month

Once you’ve temporarily cut out the foods that might worsen your period symptoms, it’s important to usher in all the things that can help.

“Your menstrual cycle can deplete your body of iron stores and nutrients, so it’s important to refuel your body with the nutrients it needs,” Gruhler says.

“Grass-fed beef contains bioavailable heme iron to replenish iron stores, wild-caught salmon contains healthy fats and omega 3s, which is essential for hormone production and reduces inflammation. Dark chocolate has magnesium, which can help decrease cramping, and raw carrots can help your body detox used estrogen, which helps with period cramps and supports your liver.”

Burdeos also recommends iron- and omega 3-rich foods, but her number one food recommendation is actually water.

“Adequate hydration is always important, even more when you’re [on] your period,” she says. “Water can help ease headaches associated with periods and prevent water retention and bloating – you’re more likely to retain water if you’re dehydrated.”

The rest of Burdeos’s top foods to eat during your period include:

Dark leafy greens – for their iron content.

Omega 3 powerhouses like fish, nuts, and flax and chia seeds – to help with mood swings and depression.

Lean animal protein like chicken and fish and plant-based protein such as lentils and beans – also for iron.

Yogurt – for its beneficial bacteria that may also help with yeast infections.

Check out these easy WW recipes to incorporate these ingredients into your meals the next time your period comes calling: