PMS and Dieting
Do you usually get cranky during the week prior to your period?
Do your breasts feel tender, your body bloated? Are you tired, irritable, not at your best just before menstruating every month? If any or all of these symptoms plague you on a monthly basis, you probably suffer from the common disorder known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS). But you don’t have to feel all alone in your woes. Up to nine out of ten menstruating women undergo noteworthy psychological and physical changes during the week before their periods. And 10 to 20 percent suffer from symptoms that are severe and serious enough to interfere with their day-to-day lives.
The basis for PMS is hormonal, and the treatment is usually lifestyle change. Studies indicate that women who follow wellbalanced diets and exercise regularly have less trouble with PMS than those who maintain less healthful living patterns. This program can help to reduce the symptoms of PMS for those who suffer from:
• Fatigue- eating regular meals and avoiding high sugar intakes can help to even out blood sugar levels, combatting the low blood sugar associated with PMS.
• Bloating-moderating salt/sodium intake can help reduce water retention in those who are sodium sensitive.
• Breast tenderness-avoiding or minimizing caffeine can help those with breast tissue enzymes overly sensitive to this chemical.
• Moodiness and depression-adequate intakes of carbohydrate and vitamin B6 (from food sources) can reduce hormonally induced mood swings.
Chronic dieting can contribute to PMS symptoms, especially the psychological side effects. It is important for women to understand that the body’s caloric needs change during the monthly cycle. Your body actually needs more calories during ovulation (midcycle) and during the week before you menstruate. This is because your metabolic rate speeds up premenstrually. This can pick up your appetite, which is why food cravings-commonly a desire for carbohydrates-tend to occur during the week before menstruation. Dieters should realize that during the premenstrual period they are struggling against a natural hormone-induced elevation in the body’s metabolism. This means there is a natural increase in appetite for food in general, starches and sweets in particular, and specifically chocolate for some. Fighting the body’s urges often leads to binge eating, depression, and feelings of frustration and guilt.
So what is the best advice for PMS sufferers and weight-watching women with monthly cravings?
• Watch out for too much sugar, salt, and caffeine.
• Be sure to obtain adequate vitamins (notably B6) and other essential nutrients.
• Don’t diet!
Learn to respect your monthly cycles and to respect your body’s wisdom. If you crave sweets premenstrually, indulge with a high- carbohydrate, low-fat snack such as one or two fig bars, a cup of frozen low-fat yogurt, or a moderate serving of something chocolate. Instead of ignoring your body’s natural demands or overindulging in both fatty foods and guilty feelings.
If you find that you are sensitive to caffeine at certain times of the month-or any time-you may want to avoid all sources of caffeine. A moderate daily intake for people who are not sensitive to caffeine is around 200 milligrams. It is best to avoid potent sources of caffeine, such as alertness tablets and diet pills.