The fine art of menstruation nutrition

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Many individuals crave French  fries doused in salt and brownies  double decked with fudge and  studded with chocolate chips when  their body is ravaged by the crimson  horror. Instinctual wisdom preaches  that when you feel poorly, junk food  comforts the soul. Yet, nutritionists  agree, healthy food can soothe some  menstrual symptoms.

Periods can usher in mood  swings, headache, full-body aches,  bloating, diarrhea, cramps and  fatigue. “A lot of these symptoms  are related to fluctuations in the  hormones, however what we eat can  certainly affect those symptoms,”  nutritionist Louanne Howard said.

She advises that women  minimize their salt intake five days  before their period and during their  period. Salt causes fluid retention, which  can lead to more bloating. Other foods  to stay away from include processed  foods and sweets. Howard encourages  women to satiate their sweet cravings  with fruit or whole grains before they  beeline it to the candy counter.

Drinking coffee and other  caffeinated beverages can make already  irritated stomachs more upset and  bloated. Indian Chai tea and green tea  are good alternatives to a cup of joe.

Foods to indulge in include  calcium-rich foods, fruits and starchy  vegetables like peas, avocados and  sweet potatoes as well as legumes. If  your inner chocoholic comes out during  the red scare, chocolate milk or low-fat  chocolate frozen yogurt are good ways  to keep the cravings at bay. Howard  also suggests eating small pieces of  antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.

When falling off the roof – a period  euphemism used by 1950s dames – it  is important to munch on high-iron  foods because blood loss equals iron  loss. Howard recommends eating iron fortified cereals, leafy greens, legumes  and nuts.

Some natural foods to fight  cramps include fresh dill; sesame seeds;  pumpkin seeds; pineapple, which can  relax muscles; parsley and bananas  which can comfort aches and pains;  celery, which fights bloating; and  hummus, which can uplift moods and  improve sleep.

As always, exercise and drinking  lots of water are a must during this time  “period.”

“It is very important to pay  attention to your diet,” Howard said.  “It is difficult because you are dealing  with these other symptoms. Getting  enough sleep and exercise and eating a  balanced diet will help you navigate  your period.”

The Period Tracker app for the  iPhone is a handy tool to help women  track their period cycles and lengths.  The period tracker lite is free and a  more deluxe version is available for  $1.99. The app calculates period  start dates and lengths as well as  when its user is the most fertile  and ovulating. It also allows users  to enter their symptoms, mood and  weight on each day of their period.  Charts and logs keep track of period  length, symptoms, moods, body  temperature and body weight from  period to period. Who knew that  Aunt Flo could be so quantified? She  is a predictable dame.

See recipe below for a chocolate  fix.  Information for this article was taken from and

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