You’d be hard-pressed to find a menstruator who hasn’t experienced the emotional and physical turmoil that is PMS.
Unfortunately, due to mainstream media and film, the societal perception of PMS—especially in the United States—has become one of mockery and shame. But the real shame is how these stereotypical assumptions and jokes reinforce gender bias, which perpetuates the false narrative that a period is a sign of weakness.
We’re here to tell you, it is not.
Yet, like most menstruators, we aren’t strangers to the sometimes disruptive symptoms that accompany our menstrual cycles. Our Moon Bites, Moon Seeds, and Moon Mylks help to address many of the issues brought on by PMS, but there is more you can do: conscious eating and intentional supplementation—through food sources—can aid the body to rid itself of many infamous PMS-related symptoms.
What is PMS?
PMS is an acronym for Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. It varies from person to person, but generally entails symptoms such as mood swings, acne, starchy carbohydrate and sugar cravings, irritability, exhaustion, bloating, low self-esteem, and anxiety. The list is by no means exhaustive and each experience is quite unique.
PMS typically occurs during Phase 2—also known as the Luteal Phase—of our cycles, between ovulation and menstruation. Exposure to chemical-laden products, stress-induced cortisol roller coasters, and nutrient-deficient diets are among the most common hormone disruptive triggers menstruators experience. These triggers can cause higher levels of estrogen to be present during this phase, when progesterone should, in fact, be greater in concentration.
One of the best things you can do for your body is to address the key micronutrients that may have been compromised from years of exposure to hormone disruptors. Then, find the foods that contain these micronutrients, to naturally help your body replenish its stores.
There is a reason many reach for dark chocolate during Phase 2 of the menstrual cycle. It’s rich in magnesium, which is a common deficiency among menstruators. Magnesium is a nerve and muscle relaxant and can lower stress, anxiety, and improve the frequency of bowel movements, as well as reduce fluid retention, which causes bloating. So, go ahead and enjoy dark chocolate to up your magnesium, just make sure it is at least 70% cacao and that you can pronounce all of the ingredients.
Wild caught salmon is a fantastic source of Omega 3s and Vitamin D3, both of which are needed to prevent excess accumulation of estrogen during your cycle. Omega 3s are known to help with mood consistency, as well as cramp prevention.
Sweet potatoes and almonds are great dietary additions as they contain dense levels of Vitamin E. Vitamin E helps protect the body from inflammation—think less breast tenderness—and has other antioxidant benefits. This is why we love to include almonds in our Moon Products.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful cleansers of excess estrogen. It is found in its highest quantities in dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chard and in citrus fruits. Did you know that these immune-boosting foods also had these PMS healing properties?
Let’s not forget about calcium. And don’t look to cow’s milk for it (but that is a whole other conversation, which we hope to cover in another post). In fact, kale, broccoli, figs, and sardines are all good sources of this micronutrient. Calcium is a key healer of hormonal acne as well as fatigue and depression that is often caused by excess estrogen.
This list might feel overwhelming, but don’t despair! You can start by adding one or two of these foods into your diet each week. If you’re eating a lot of these foods already, try timing their consumption when you’re in Phase 2 of your menstrual cycle. Of course, integrate them slowly and find what works best for you and your symptoms.
PMS may be common, but it is not inevitable.