5 Kinds of Food to Eat When You're Struggling With PMS

woman with PMS with crampsYou're bloated. Eating peanut butter chips for breakfast. And thinking about biting off the head of the next person who talks to you, except that means you'd have to move off the couch. Call this a stereotype of PMS if you want, but it's also so freaking true.

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That said, "PMS is not normal," says Alisa Vitti, a functional nutritionist, founder and CEO of FLOLiving.com, and best-sellling author of WomanCode. "If you have PMS, you have a hormone imbalance, and the first step is to use food to both manage symptoms short-term and also help address the root causes of this long-term."

Back away from the jar of Nutella. Here, the five best PMS-fighting foods to try.

1. Dark chocolate. Nearly half of all women crave chocolate right before their period starts. (And the other half basically crave it all the time.) True, chocolate's high fat content and calories cause your brain to release dopamine, a feel-good chemical associated with rewards. But Vitti likes it for a more practical benefit: Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, which reduces bloating. (You're welcome.)

2. Sweet potatoes. Although they have a hint of natural sweetness, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, meaning they release sugar sloooowly into your bloodstream. And that can keep both your energy and your mood stable, Vitti notes. (Whew.) Another bonus: Sweet potatoes also fill you up enough to keep you from bingeing on unhealthy carbs.

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3. Sunflower seeds. These nutty little seeds are super-high in vitamin B-6 -- which your body craves pre-period "to make more progesterone to bring your estrogen/progesterone ratio back into balance," Vitti says. Progesterone, FYI, is a natural sleep aid and diuretic. It also fights against anxiety and helps stimulate your metabolism.

4. Water with lemon. How easy is this? Sipping water with lemon, whether iced or warm, "helps the liver flush excess estrogen and keep your skin clear," says Vitti. You might want to swap it out for your beloved coffee, too. Even drinking one cup of joe can increase your estrogen levels. And since we're already the bearer of bad news, chew on this: High-fat, high-carb foods will have a similar estrogen-lifting effect.

5. Fermented veggies. Bet you didn't see this one coming! The pre- and probiotics from fermented vegetables, like kimchi and sauerkraut, "maximize estrogen metabolism and boost your mood," explains Vitti.

Not sure how to eat kimchi or sauerkraut? Try alongside your scrambled eggs, adding to a sandwich or salad, or eating a couple tablespoons (the ideal portion) right from the jar. Who knows -- maybe it'll even taste good with chocolate!

 

Image via iStock.com/AndreyPopov

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