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Your menstrual cycle will always come once a month, but no two periods are quite the same. Some are heavier than others. Others are a little more moody, while still more might have those diet-smashing cravings kick in at odd hours.
If you’ve ever had a particularly troublesome period, you already know this to be true. Periods can be exceptionally variable, even if you’re just looking at a single individual’s cycle. That’s why companies like Intimina made menstrual cups that are designed with both comfort and varied flows in mind.
It’s normal to be concerned (and a little curious) about changes in your cycle. You might even be wondering what could cause a period to become worse. Though hormonal changes can be partly to blame, your diet can make a huge impact on how light, heavy, comfortable, or painful your period can get.
There’s plenty of truth to the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Scientists have revealed that certain foods can trigger prolonged periods, also known as menostaxis. Others can cause extremely heavy, uncomfortable periods—or menorrhagia, as doctors would call it.
Food can fuel your body, or it can cause harm. To help yourself “go with the flow,” you might want to avoid these foods linked to problematic periods.
Dairy is a mixed bag when it comes to your menstrual cycle. The calcium found in dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt can help your period pain lessen. However, dairy products also have compounds that stimulate prostaglandins—the hormones that cause menstrual cramps.
If you notice that your cramping has been kicked up a notch, it’s a good idea to get a hot pad and look into other sources of calcium and vitamin D.
Your parents weren’t lying when they said that sugar is bad for your teeth, and unfortunately, it’s also pretty terrible for period symptoms too. Sugar causes your insulin levels to spike and crash, which leads to serious mood swings, cravings, as well as that aggravating drowsiness that usually comes along with heavier cycles.
To make matters worse, sugary foods have a tendency of containing other ingredients that encourage inflammation and bloating. That’s why you may feel crampy and irritable after indulging in bags of Skittles during your period.
We all know that sugar isn’t really that good for you, but other sweet items aren’t much better, either. Believe it or not, several dietitians and doctors pointed out that eating honey has been linked to heavier periods in many women.
Women who have been dealing with prolonged or heavy periods might want to skip out on their morning tea with honey. For once, you might actually want to stick to stevia when you’re trying to sweeten up your food.
High-Sodium, Processed Foods
It’s no secret that processed foods are pretty terrible for you, especially when it comes to inflammation and bloating. This is particularly true when it comes to foods that have an exceptionally high level of sodium associated with them like popcorn, tortilla chips, or even buffalo wings.
Having too much salt tends to become very apparent in women who suffer from heavy water weight gain during that time of the month. In fact, it’s the leading cause of bloating and water retention. In other words, it’s better to save those chips for a night that doesn’t involve an Intimina menstrual cup.
Grains and Oats
Grains are one of the most common food ingredients out there. They’re in pasta, bread, cakes, pies, and just about every other thing you could eat for lunch on the go. Unfortunately, they tend to have several problems that make them very unfriendly to menstruating women.
White breads and other heavily processed grains exacerbate bloating in most women. Women who are sensitive to foods that trigger menorrhagia may also find that their flows worsen with increased grain intake. This is even true with whole grains and oats.
To make matters worse, grains are also known for being excessively high in carbohydrates. A spike in carbs can trigger food cravings, which leads to permanent weight gain. Insulin crashes from high carbohydrate intakes can also cause that groggy, drowsy feeling you hate.
Overall, it’s a good idea to avoid grains if you’re on your period.
There’s something so soothing about being able to sink your teeth into an enchilada or a chocolate cake during that time of the month, isn’t there? Well, you might want to think twice about eating fatty foods during your menstrual cycle.
Several studies showed that eating foods that are high in saturated fats is directly linked to higher rates of cramping, gas, and discomfort. By cutting out saturated fat for those five days or so, you will be able to feel a lot better. Plus, they’re not very good for you even when you’re not on your period.
If you’re like many women who have particularly bad PMS symptoms, you probably have turned to a glass of red wine to help take the edge off your mood swings. Though it may seem to work at first, alcohol is still a depressant, which means that you will often feel worse after your tipsy feeling wears off.
The extremely temporary relief, followed by a comedown, is not the only reason why alcohol is bad for your period. Alcohol slows your digestive process, which exacerbates the sluggish, heavy feeling women get while they’re bloated. In some cases, alcohol can also cause heavier periods.
Sodas and Energy Drinks
What you drink is definitely part of your diet—and in many cases, can be the reason why you’re having such a hard time during your period. Soda can be one of the worst things to ingest during your menses, especially if you have a very wide range of PMS symptoms that continue through the last leg of your cycle.
Soda typically has a lot of sugar, which leads to cravings, mood swings, blood sugar issues, as well as stomach problems in certain people. The sugar alone, though, isn’t the only issue that soda tends to have. Many women also find carbonated beverages, even those that have no sugar, to worsen their bloat.
If you make the mistake of drinking energy drinks during your period, you can also get dehydrated. The high levels of caffeine and B vitamins give you a double-whammy in the diuretic department. Less water in your system means more cramping, as well as more breakouts.
Women who yearn for a “pick me up” in the morning probably already noticed that a cup of coffee might make their periods heavier throughout the day. Caffeine is known for constricting blood vessels, which in turn, can cause shorter menstrual cycles. That sounds great, until you realize that there are side effects that come with the short cycle perk.
The blood vessel constriction, mixed with the diuretic effects caffeine is known to have, can cause a lot of cramping. To make things worse, the stimulant aspect of caffeine also means that you’re at a higher risk for PMS symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
With all the emphasis on avoiding processed foods and carbs, you might be shocked to find out that red meat has also been linked to worsening period symptoms. Several compounds found in red meat are known for increasing period pain, inflammation, as well as a general sense of malaise.
There has also been anecdotal evidence that suggests red meat consumption could lead to a heavier menstrual flow. If you love your steak and don’t want to give it up, investing in a cup designed for a heavier flow like the ones from Intimina’s Lily cups line can help. You can get one for 20 percent off during their sale until February 2nd, or in your nearest Target or CVS store!