I’d pass out from the dying cramps, but I’ve learned to eat my way out of PMS.

PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, describes the many annoying symptoms that a woman may have to endure in the lead up to her period.

In fact, more than 150 symptoms of PMS have been identified, including physical symptoms (think breast tenderness and headaches) and physiological symptoms (mood swings, fatigue, and anger).


PT Lucy Gornall had incredibly painful menstrual cramps that made her pass outCredit: Lucy Gornall
The pill helped her PMS symptoms, but when she stopped taking it, they came back, but she has since learned to use nutrition to relieve them.


The pill helped her PMS symptoms, but when she stopped taking it, they came back, but she has since learned to use nutrition to relieve them.Credit: Lucy Gornall

According to the National Association for Premenstrual Syndromes (NAPS), up to 30 percent of women experience moderate to severe PMS.

Around 800,000 women in the UK suffer from severe PMS.

If you’ve ever tried to tackle PMS, including very mild PMS, you may have started taking the birth control pill, used hot water bottles, taken acetaminophen, or even tried to sleep.

But have you ever thought about the role your diet plays?

“From headaches and lack of energy to cramps and irritability, the symptoms of PMS are long-lasting and varied, affecting up to 85% of women,” says Shona Wilkinson, principal nutritionist at ethical nutrition and supplement brand DR .VEGAN.

“While many factors must be considered to manage symptoms, nutritional intake should be high on the list.”

I started menstruating at the age of 14. During my teenage years I passed out every month from the pain of PMS cramps.

The pill helped eradicate these pains and for 11 years I had no PMS.

Then after the pill, as my cycle settled into a rhythm, my PMS symptoms found their rhythm as well.

Unbearable menstrual cramps manifested for about half a day, at which point I started bleeding, and my head ached.

In the days leading up to my period, I felt like I’d been hit by a bus; the exhaustion was extreme, and to make matters worse, my sleep was virtually non-existent for about five days.

Oh, and of course, there are the blemishes, the greasy forehead, the sore breasts, and the random crying outbursts that became annoying.

However, several lifestyle adjustments, including some dietary changes and supplements, meant that my PMS has definitely eased.

It’s not gone, but it’s not a patch on what it used to be either.

Here are the changes I’ve made, plus some other expert tips that might help you take control of your PMS, once and for all…

I take a vitamin B supplement for general control of PMS

“Simple changes like adding an PMS supplement rich in B vitamins to your daily routine can help alleviate common PMS symptoms,” says Shona.

“Vitamins B2 and B3 help regulate hormonal fluctuations that lead to oily skin and puffiness, while vitamin B6 helps the body turn food into fuel, regulates the nervous system, and aids in the creation of hormones that improve mood. mood, such as serotonin and dopamine. ”

I turn up my iron for energy

Women tend to be more prone to low iron levels since iron is lost during menstrual bleeding.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but chicken liver is packed with iron.

Usually in the lead up to my period, I cook some chicken livers with onions.

“Iron helps regulate our mood through its involvement in the creation of serotonin, also known as ‘the happy hormone,’ so an increase in iron can help calm some of the less physical signs of PMS, such as low mood and lethargy,” says Shona.

“It’s also particularly important to eat some iron-rich foods after a particularly heavy flow to help combat blood loss from the body.”

Don’t you like liver?

Shona recommends including other iron-rich foods before and during your period, such as lentils, quinoa, or nuts. Red meat also contains high levels of iron.

I eat oily fish three times a week to improve my mood.

Sardines, mackerel, salmon… are just some of the fish I usually eat.

Whether it’s a coincidence or not, my mood is certainly less erratic than it was before during my period.

“Omega 3s have been shown to help with the production and availability of serotonin, and people with an omega 3 deficiency may be at greater risk of developing mental health problems,” explains Shona.

“Hormones like serotonin and dopamine play important roles in regulating our mood and helping us feel positive about the day and what it might offer.

“As levels of the hormone estrogen drop during PMS, serotonin and dopamine levels drop as well, which could explain why more than 50 percent of women feel depressed before their period.”

Shona adds: “Omega 3 is classified as an essential nutrient, which means that it cannot be produced by the body and must come from your diet or from an Omega 3 supplement.

“Great food sources of omega 3s include oily fish if it’s not plant-based, or nuts, seeds, and olive oil if it is.”

I take zinc to keep my skin calmer

Period spots can be a real plague. But, studies have shown how essential zinc is for the normal functioning of the skin.

I started taking a zinc supplement a while back and while I still get little pimples, the horrible, brutally large pimples seem to have faded into the background.

Shona says that zinc is also great for brain health.

“Zinc is an essential mineral involved in a number of brain chemical reactions.

“We need zinc to regulate the release of neurotransmitters, including serotonin and dopamine.

“Low zinc levels can lead to increased risk of anxiety and depression, among other problems.”

A zinc supplement is helpful, as are other zinc-rich foods, including shellfish, seeds, and nuts.

I don’t go a day without magnesium for constipation

“Magnesium is required for more than 300 biomechanical reactions in the body, including the release and uptake of serotonin by the brain,” says Shona.

Which could be another reason my mood isn’t as crazy as it used to be.

I also find that magnesium before bed can help overcome PMS constipation that makes me feel very uncomfortable before my period.

A supplement can help. Like food sources.

“Nuts, legumes, seeds, and whole grains are good sources of magnesium. Try to include some in your daily diet and give your brain the help it might need when struggling with PMS symptoms,” says Shona.

Chasteberry can help hormones

“One of the lesser-known but effective treatments for PMS symptoms is chasteberry, the fruit of the chaste tree,” reveals Shona.

“Chasteberry has been used as a treatment for PMS symptoms for years and works by rebalancing hormones to negate common symptoms like mood swings and breast discomfort.”

Chasteberry can be found in PMS supplement capsules and can even be drunk as a tea.

Fill up on calcium to help bloating

Research has found that calcium could help alleviate water retention, as well as other symptoms of PMS, such as anxiety.

“Examples of calcium-rich foods include leafy greens like kale, spinach, navy beans, chickpeas, lentils, kiwi, almonds, fortified plant milks, and soy foods like tofu and the tempeh,” says Shona.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s not always easy to eat the right foods, as PMS can make us want to eat more junk food.

“As blood sugar levels drop during PMS, cravings for high-sugar foods tend to increase, which, in turn, can exacerbate PMS symptoms such as constipation, gas and fatigue,” says Shona.

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Although controlling your food choices is important to help alleviate PMS, try to avoid stressing yourself out further by being too rigid.

But, if you notice positive PMS changes like I do, you may not want to eat sugary and unhealthy foods during your period anymore!

Lucy now has her PMS symptoms largely under control thanks to diet and supplements.


Lucy now has her PMS symptoms largely under control thanks to diet and supplements.Credit: Lucy Gornall

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