The PMS-Busting Checklist
PMS accounts for literally hundreds of symptoms; mood changes, food cravings (hello sugar & salt!), bloating, acne, headaches, breast pain, sleep disruption, fatigue….it goes on. Hormonal whackiness (which accounts for the latter) is usually due to a combination of the following
- Unbalanced diet & lack of exercise
- Nutrient deficiencies (B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, protein and fibre)
- Blood sugar dysregulation
- Unwanted exposure to toxins and synthetic hormones (cosmetics, the food supply, birth control).
In the end, if your hormones are happy – that “time of the month” does not have to be a curse. From one lady to another – here is my PMS-Busting Checklist:
1. Track your cycle & PMS symptoms
Being able to address the uncomfortable symptoms starts with getting to know your cycle better. Use your daybook, or phone to make notes – there are also several free apps for smartphones that are very helpful (Monthly Cycles, PinkPad, Kindara).
2. Balance Your Blood Sugar
It’s a vicious cycle for sure, but satisfying your food cravings with junk only makes it worse! Refined carbohydrates (aka added sugar and white flour), cause our blood sugar to continually spike and crash. Getting ahead of your cravings by doing a little planning and prep is key! Plan healthy breakfasts with protein and fibre (fruit & veggie smoothies, scrambled eggs and spinach, avocado on whole grain toast), and carry convenient but healthy snacks that you can munch on as needed (raw nuts & seeds with dark chocolate, fruit and nut butter, cut up veggies and hummous, hardboiled eggs, etc).
3. Nix the Caffeine
Caffeine consumption is known to worsen certain PMS symptoms; notably water retention, breast tenderness, anxiety, and digestive upset. If you suffer from the latter, I would strongly encourage you swap the coffee for an alternative in the week or two before your period. Try “Dandi-Blend” as a coffee substitute, or any caffeine-free herbal tea you like.
4. Get Moving (Outside)
Exercise & time spent in nature, are two of the best mood regulators around. Keep it simple, you don’t have to be a hero – a walk with a friend will do just fine. At minimum, 30 minutes, 3x/week is a place to start!
5. Go with the flow….a little more
Don’t fight how you feel tooth and nail. I know we like to joke about how “crazy” women are on account of our periods, but perhaps we need a different perspective and respect for ourselves. The pre-menstrual period is really a time of increased emotional awareness ~ so use it to tune into whatever has been mentally and emotionally bugging you – and let it out! Make time to do things that help you decompress – a hot bath, a chick-flick movie, a night out with girlfriends, a massage or yoga class – acknowledge what you need and go with it.
6. Stock your Cupboards
If you keep good food around, you will eat good food. Clean your cupboards of the junk, and replace it with nutritious goodies. Some of my staples include avocado, organic popcorn, nut butter, free-range eggs, whole grain crackers or ryvita bread, and of course lots of colourful fruits and veggies. Start chopping your veggies up soon after you buy them, if they are ready to go, you are much more likely to eat them!
7. See an ND!!
A Naturopathic Doctor, can help you gain a greater awareness for your menstrual cycle – and what imbalances are specifically contributing to your PMS symptoms. An ND can also recommend specific nutritional and herbal supplements appropriate for you.
8. Eat some Chocolate….
Yes, chocolate is good for your PMS – keep it dark (60% cocoa solids or more) and as unrefined as possible. Here is a recipe for chocolate pudding that is seriously life-changing, courtesy of Joyous Health.
Chocolate Avocado Pudding
Avocados are a very healthy source of monounsaturated fats – which help to keep our blood sugar stable by slowing down the rate at which sugars are absorbed. Avocados are also an excellent source of potassium, B vitamins, and fibre. The texture of this pudding is decadent – and it has just enough sweetness to satisfy! It is a snap to make – so the next time you are craving a chocolate/sugar fix – consider whipping this up.
1 large, or 2 small – ripe avocados
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or raw cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey or pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Unsweetened coconut milk or almond milk.
Optional garnishes: chopped nuts, fresh berries or dried fruit, a sprinkle of flaky sea salt, chili pepper etc.
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processer and blend until smooth. Add a little of bit of coconut/almond milk and blend to desired consistency.