In fact, according to Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, MS, RD, CDN, author of The Better Period Food Solution, and a U by Kotex partner, the body actually needs different nutrients at varying points of the menstrual cycle. Beckerman calls this editing of your diet during particular menstrual-cycle phases "food cycling" and says it can help you better understand your body's rhythms.
"For example, during the menstrual phase, pump up iron-rich foods like beans and fish to combat fatigue and replenish period blood loss. During the luteal or premenstrual phase, you typically have low energy and may feel gloomy, so stock up on natural sweets like dark chocolate or dried fruit to boost feel-good hormones like dopamine and serotonin," she said.
Ready to tackle your PMS symptoms with some snacks? Keep scrolling for delicious ideas that will help kick cramps, fatigue, breast tenderness, and more to the curb.
Go ahead and put a dozen on your grocery list! As Beckerman explains, hard-boiled eggs are a great source of vitamin D, which is an important player in reproductive health, regulating your mood, and assisting your hormonal balance.
"Before your period arrives, it's normal to feel cranky because hormones, like estrogen and progesterone, start to plummet. These hormones inadvertently also lower vitamin D levels in the body, which can further worsen our mood," she said.
On top of its vitamin D supply, the food is packed with minerals and protein.
If you deal with mood swings or bloating around your period, it might be worth keeping a stock of probiotic-rich yogurt in your fridge. "Gut bacteria can often be disrupted by the rapidly changing hormone levels during periods, but probiotics in yogurt can help replenish and restore gut flora," Beckerman explained.
She suggests brands like Chobani, Siggi's, The Collaborative, and The White Moustache for dairy and dairy-free options.
"Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, which can reduce breast tenderness associated with PMS," Beckerman noted. The crunchy snack may also help soothe lower-back pain due to its linoleic acid content. Beckerman said they are great toppings for a salad, yogurt, or oatmeal.
Brussels Sprout Chips
Add this to your must-try air-fryer list. According to Beckerman, brussels sprouts contain a compound that can enhance metabolism and the breakdown of estrogen - a hormone that could lead to amplified PMS symptoms.
To make the veggie a snack, Beckerman recommends making brussels sprout chips in the oven or an air fryer. If you're not much of a cook, you can purchase brussels sprout puffs, like Vegan Rob's.
A beet might not be the first food that pops into your mind when you're hankering for a snack, but the veggie could be helpful in reducing inflammation in the body.
"Beets are high in arginine, an essential amino acid that fights inflammation," Beckerman said. "Your period is a natural inflammatory process as you shed your uterine lining. Thankfully, beets are rich in nitric oxide, which expands constricted blood vessels and helps bring nutrient-rich blood to the ovaries and uterus. This can ultimately help decrease inflammation and fight fatigue by replenishing the tissues with healthy and nutrient-dense blood."
For a quick snack without any cooking prep, Beckerman suggests ready-to-eat Love Beets and beet chips.
As for the foods that could potentially make your PMS symptoms worse? For starters, it's important to know that not everyone reacts to certain foods the same way. However, Beckerman does generally suggest avoiding an excess of refined sugar in order to keep your mood and energy up. Consuming too many salty snacks (think chips, pretzels, or nuts) could also contribute toward dehydration, which Beckerman notes could worsen cramps and headaches.
Remember, if you have any questions about your period or period symptoms, it's important to speak with a doctor. A dietitian can also help teach you which nutrients the body needs to function properly.