8 Foods to Eat When You Have PMS

Adriana Velez | Apr 23, 2015 Food & Party

woman with pmsWhen I have PMS I have one thing on my mind: Chocolate. Lots of it, and it better be as dark as my mood. It seems to fill a primal need. But the truth is, there are other foods that will answer the savage hormonal call just as well if not better. Here's what you really should eat when you have PMS.

what to eat when you have pms

In her book Moody Bitches Dr. Julie Holland addresses the ideal PMS menu. "Eating carbs is known to boost serotonin levels, but try to stick with complex carbs like whole grains instead of sugary concoctions and avoid the insulin surge and crash of blood sugar levels that follow." She also points out that tryptophan helps create serotonin, which can help drag you out of your rising-progesterone/sinking-estrogen funk.


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  • Turkey Leg


    Image via Fanfo/Shutterstock

    We always think of turkey when we hear tryptophan, but it's actually the dark meat that has more of that good stuff. So skip the usual turkey breast, roast some turkey legs, and just gnaw on them, Renaissance festival-style. It's what feels most natural this time of the month, after all.

  • Bananas


    Image via Lukas Gojda/Shutterstock

    Bananas are also high in tryptophan, as well as magnesium, which helps your achy muscles. Plus they're so portable and delicious with Nutella. Wait, did I just say that? Actually, they're plenty sweet on their own.

  • Lentils


    Image via Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

    Lentils are another great food high in tryptophan. They also have iron, which is helpful this time of the month. Lentils release energy in your body slowly, to help keep your blood sugar levels from spiking.

  • Potatoes


    Image via cobraphotography/Shutterstock

    If you're jonesing for carbs, go for potatoes. Not only do they boost tryptophan, but your body will absorb the carbs more slowly than bread or cookies, and they'll give you a dose of Vitamins C and B6. 

  • Mackerel


    Image via Marina Onokhina/Shutterstock

    Omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish like mackerel can reduce your irritability and reactivity. You know, reactivity as in biting people's heads off? Crying in response to bad news? That reactivity. If you're not down with the oily fishes try fish oil supplements. But mackerel and bluefish are delicious grilled with lemons.

  • Pineapple


    Image via Merydolla/Shutterstock

    Feeling bloated? Diuretics like asparagas and pinapple can help with that. Who doesn't love an excuse to eat pineapple, anyway?

    More from The Stir: 6 Foods to Eat When You're Feeling Blue

  • Brown Rice


    Image via atibodyphoto/Shutterstock

    Magnesium and potassium can lower anxiety and reduce insomnia -- plus magnesium is a diuretic that can help with bloating. The bran in brown rice is super high in these helpful minerals.


  • Whole Milk Yogurt


    Image via Jane Rix/Shutterstock

    "Craving sugar during PMS is pretty common due to shifting hormones," says Stephanie Sacks, author of What the Fork Are You Eating and the blog, What the Fork Weekly. "Instead of going for the Hershey, Jelly Belly or Haribo set higher standards and suck down some sweet with high nutritional value, including much needed calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D." You'll find them all in whole milk yogurt.

  • Blackberry Parfait with Sesame Brittle Recipe


    Image via Leo Gong

    MAKES 4 SERVINGS • PREP TIME: 10 minutes • COOK TIME: 20 minutes


    1½ cups frozen blackberries

    1 teaspoon freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice

    1 teaspoon orange or lemon zest

    1½ teaspoons Grade B maple syrup

    ¼ teaspoon ground ginger


    1 scant teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

    3 tablespoons Grade B maple syrup

    2 tablespoons sesame seeds

    ⅛ teaspoon ground cardamon

    Pinch of sea salt

    2 cups organic plain Greek yogurt

    1 cups of fresh mixed berries

    To make the compote, combine the blackberries, orange juice, zest, syrup, and ginger in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture bubbles, pulls away from the sides of the pan, and becomes syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside.

    To make the brittle, preheat the oven to 375°F and turn the oven light on. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the oil on the parchment paper with a paper towel, covering the parchment with a thin, even film of oil.

    Put the maple syrup, sesame seeds, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl. Pour the mixture onto the oiled parchment paper, then tilt the pan to spread it evenly. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, staying close to the oven and keeping watch. The syrup will first become bubbly, then, after another 2 or 3 minutes, the sesame seeds will take on a nice golden color and the syrup will turn a deep amber color. At this point, remove the brittle from the oven and let it cool to room temperature.

    Using a thin metal spatula, lift the hardened brittle and break it into randomly sized pieces. (To make it easier to break into pieces, you can pop it into the freezer for about 5 minutes.) Use immediately or store in an airtight container.

    Fill each of 4 parfait glasses with 1 tablespoon of compote, then ¼ cup of yogurt, then fresh berries, 1 tablespoon of compote, then ¼ cup of yogurt, and top with a piece of the sesame brittle.

    VARIATIONS: If you have fresh blackberries, all the better. Just add 2 tablespoons of water to the recipe. If you don’t have blackberries, use blueberries, strawberries, and/or raspberries.

    Reprinted with permission from The Healthy Mind Cookbook Copyright © 2015 by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson, Ten Speed Press, a division of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA.

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