Periods are like a battle for a woman with her own body. Women often experience an array of emotions and at times, deal with ‘symptoms’. Some might feel absolutely normal and some might go through excruciating pain. It depends on an individual’s body. To get rid of their discomfort, some women tend to turn towards food, which makes it natural to wonder what to eat during periods.
But does food really make a difference while you are on your period?
“What you eat impacts your body and mind whether or not you’re on your period,” says Dr. Payal Chaudhary, Consultant Obstetrician-Gynecologist at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital in Delhi.
“As healthcare providers, we often suggest staying away from processed foods like biscuits, fried foods and chips as these are high in calories and may make you feel lethargic. In comparison, home cooked food and fruits give you appropriate nutrients in the right proportions and keep your energy levels high throughout.”
“But yes, women do sometimes feel the need to eat differently during their periods, which is a personal choice.”
What food should be eaten during periods?
If you feel bloating or nausea, consider these fruits to eat during your periods:
- Melons and Watermelons
These are good summer fruits to eat during periods. They help you stay hydrated and may even make you feel less bloated.
- Oranges and Lemons
Citrus fruits like oranges contain a lot of fiber, while lemons will help with spells of nausea.
What to eat during periods: Indian Foods
“There is no need to specifically change your diet while you are menstruating. If you want to make a few changes, make sure you include these Indian foods in your meals.”
- Vegetables such as Spinach (palak), Cabbage (patta gobhi) and Beetroot (chukandar), are a must because of their rich iron and fibre content.
- Nuts such as Almonds (badam), Walnuts (akhrot)are rich in omega 3s and help you feel less bloated. These are more fulfilling than any other snacking options.
What food helps with period pains?
“Period pains and cramps cannot be completely eliminated by eating certain food items as they are a part of the cycle. But you can definitely take measures in order to get relief,” says Dr. Payal.
It is recommended to walk around or exercise when you experience cramps. Some women may use electric heating pads as the heat helps relieve pain. Others may resort to medicines when they don’t get any relief with these methods.
When it comes to pain killers to get rid of period cramps, a majority have been misinformed. “A lot of women are asked to avoid taking pain killers during periods but it is actually okay as long as you’re not allergic to them.” says Dr. Payal.
“Of course they need to be taken in moderation and over dosage should be avoided.”
“In very severe cases, wherein you may be restricted to the bed or require injectable pain killers, you should consult your Gynecologist and undergo a thorough evaluation. You may be put on cyclical hormonal pills which would relieve the pain in most cases.”
What Not to Eat During Periods?
“We discourage women from eating deep fried, processed foods or foods high in salt content in general. The same would apply during periods.”
“This is because hormones present in the body causes bloating and eating such food items can cause the symptoms to worsen.” emphasizes Dr. Payal.
What should you drink during periods?
Keeping your body hydrated is a must irrespective of periods. But during menstruation, it becomes more important to hydrate yourself as you may feel fatigued.
“Other than water, you can take chamomile tea as it works as a pain-killer due to its compounds. It helps in the relief from menstrual cramps and bloating,” emphasized Dr. Payal.
Myths about Foods during Periods
Many women crave chocolates, ice creams and coffee during periods but eating them in moderation is the key.
Here’s a list of questions women frequently ask about what to eat during periods.
Question: “Can we eat curd during periods?”
Yes. You can. Curd acts as a pain reliever during periods. It is a rich source of calcium and thus, helps in relaxing the muscles that eventually reduces cramps.
Question: Should we avoid raw fruits during periods?
Uncooked foods like vegetables, fruits, seeds or nuts have nutrients that can be easily absorbed and can be eaten. Make sure these are washed thoroughly before consumption.
Women are so worried about the ‘foods to avoid during periods’ that they forget what should be eaten during periods.
Dr. Payal suggests, “Instead of looking for ‘what not to eat during periods’ you should eat a well balanced proper diet in appropriate proportions that can help you manage your health all the time and not just while you are menstruating.”
This article was written in April 2020 with editorial inputs from Dr. Payal Chaudhary, Consultant, Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sitaram Bhartia Hospital.
Dr. Payal Chaudhary, MBBS, Lady Harding Medical College, New Delhi (2000), MD Lady Harding Medical College, New Delhi (2005), Observership Minimally-Invasive Surgery, Magee Women Hospital, Pittsburgh
Come in for a complimentary consultation with Dr. Payal. Please call on +91 9871001458 to schedule a free consultation.