If premenstrual bloating steals the comfort from your pants-fit and the sunshine from your moods, dietary changes may help. About 75 percent of women experience premenstrual syndrome, says the University of Maryland Medical Center, and water retention is a common symptom. While the specific cause remains unknown, hormonal shifts and lifestyle habits contribute. In addition to sufficient sleep and routine exercise, a healthy diet -- based on particular foods -- could help prevent or minimize bloating.
Non-Gaseous Vegetables and Fruits
Fruits and vegetables can help reduce bloating by supplying water, which allows your body to flush excess fluid. The fiber they provide guards against constipation, which can worsen your symptoms. If you're prone to gassiness, Joy Bauer, a registered dietitian in New York City, recommends limiting gas-producing foods, such as brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage and beans, while PMS is at its peak. Because they are tougher for the body to process, these vegetables can trigger gas and worsen abdominal swelling. Nutritious, water-rich alternatives include berries, citrus fruits, melons, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Low-Fat Milk and Yogurt
Unless you're lactose intolerant, which can cause or worsen bloating, low-fat milk and yogurt may do your premenstrual abdomen good. Calcium-rich foods can help minimize PMS symptoms overall, says the University of Maryland Medical Center, and dairy products are top providers. Avoid high-fat dairy products, such as whole milk, which contain fats that stimulate inflammation. Rather than eating high-fat ice cream, make a smoothie with low-fat milk or yogurt and fresh or frozen fruit. Nondairy, calcium-rich alternatives include fortified soy, rice and almond milk.
A bloating-reducing diet is rich in whole grains, says the Mayo Clinic. Whole grains are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals and provide nutritious alternatives to refined foods, which can worsen PMS. Swap enriched breads, pastas and cereals in your diet for 100-percent whole-grain alternatives. Nutritious examples include old-fashioned oatmeal, 100-percent whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta and brown rice. If the munchies strike, snack on air-popped popcorn, seasoned with herbs and spices. Salty and fried snack foods can increase bloating.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide a variety of essential nutrients, including noninflammatory fats. They also make for useful alternatives to saturated and trans fat sources, such as fried chips, shortening and margarine, which worsen PMS. Rather than buttering your whole-grain toast, use almond or peanut butter. Instead of candy, snack on mixed nuts, roasted seeds or a natural trail mix. Flaxseeds provide the benefits of omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation. Omega-3s may make PMS symptoms more bearable.
August McLaughlin is a health and sexuality writer, podcast host and author of “Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment” (Amberjack Publishing, 2018). Her articles appear in DAME Magazine, Cosmopolitan.com, the Huffington Post and more, and she loves connecting with readers through her blog and social media. augustmclaughlin.com