Junk Food: How Does It Affect Your Menstrual Health?

Written by Rama Manikumar on Tue, 05 September 2023

Key Highlights

  • Period cravings are common and one often succumbs to junk food to satisfy them
  • The side effects of junk food on menstrual health are many
  • Read more about how junk food affects menstrual and overall health
  • Find healthier alternatives to junk food during your periods so you minimize the side effects

Ladies, we all know how challenging it can be to deal with food cravings during period days. At a time when our bodies start to feel like being on a rollercoaster ride – from raging hormones to excruciating cramps, it's not uncommon for us to reach for our favorite comfort foods like chocolate brownies, fries, pizza, and ice cream!

However, did you know that some of these foods can actually worsen period cramps and other menstrual issues like PCOS in women? To help alleviate period symptoms, it's important to be mindful of what we eat. This means avoiding foods to avoid while on period such as processed foods and sugary drinks.

Instead, we should focus on the best period craving foods that are nutrient-rich and can help support our bodies during this time. Some of these foods include bananas, almonds, and dark chocolate, which are all best snacks for period cravings.

It's also essential to be aware of the worst foods to eat on your period, especially junk food with low calories, that may lack essential nutrients. These unhealthy eating habits can impact our overall menstrual health and well-being.

Let's make a conscious effort to choose the best snacks for period cravings and prioritize our health during this time. By incorporating healthy food choices into our diets, we can nourish our bodies and ease the discomfort that often comes with periods.

Need more convincing? Let us take a look at the effects of eating junk food and how it affects your menstrual health.

How junk food affects your period

How junk food affects your period

Hormones haywire

Food cravings during period are common, but indulging in junk food like that gooey chocolate bar or milkshake can wreak havoc on your body. Not only are they high in sugar, calories, and fat, but they offer little to no nutritional benefits. In fact, junk is perhaps the worst food to eat during your period, as it can cause hormonal imbalances, leading to cramps, pain, mood swings, and irritability.

Irregular menses

Your diet must contain an adequate amount of nutrients to support the proper functioning of hormones. Studies have shown that high and frequent consumption of junk food can result in longer periods by up to 7 days.

Girls who ate a balanced diet had significantly shorter periods than those who regularly consumed junk food.

PCOS in women

Period problems like dysmenorrhea and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are common in premenopausal women and can significantly affect physical and mental well-being.

Constantly consuming junk food on your period puts you at greater risk of these conditions. Moreover, studies have shown that junk food can increase the incidence of PCOS in women.

Foods to avoid while on period

While it may be immensely satisfying to eat junk food on period, this can seriously affect your menstrual and overall health. Eating healthy is crucial during periods, and you must know what foods to avoid during period cramps.

High-calorie junk food, such as chocolate bars or milkshakes, is perhaps the worst food to eat on your period. It is common knowledge that your diet must contain an adequate amount of nutrients to function correctly.

A hormonal imbalance during your periods will put you at risk of cramps, pain, mood swings, and irritability.

Foods to avoid while on period

Say no to sugar

  • Eating foods that contain high amounts of refined sugar can cause or worsen inflammation in the body. · Foods high in refined sugar should be high on your list of foods to avoid during your period.
  • During your period, your body is already prone to inflammation. Having a high-sugar diet can worsen inflammation and put you at risk of cramps, bloating, and period pains.

Stay away from Fast Foods

  • Fast food like burgers, fries, pizzas, and ice creams provide little to no nutritional benefit. These foods feature in every list of foods to avoid while on period.
  • Vitamins and minerals are essential to the body for the proper production and release of hormones.
  • A lack of these nutrients can leave you moody, fatigued, and irritated throughout your period days.

Go Easy on the Sodium, the Crampy Culprit

  • French fries might seem tempting, but they should be on the list of foods to avoid while on period. Such foods contain high amounts of sodium, and a high sodium intake during your period can lead to bloating and cramping.
  • Sodium promotes water retention and increases your blood pressure, leading to bloating, cramps, and an overall feeling of lethargy during your periods.
  • Say no to sodium-rich junk food for a cramp-free period!

Alternatives to your favorite Junk Foods

Are you tired of feeling bloated, irritable, and fatigued during your period? Do you constantly give in to your food cravings during your period, only to regret it later? Well, it's time to take charge of your period health and make healthier food choices!

Junk food loaded with refined sugar, sodium, and unhealthy fats are the worst foods to eat on your period. They can worsen inflammation, lead to cramps and bloating, and cause nutrient deficiencies. As a result, you may experience longer periods, excessive bleeding, and mood swings.

But how do you deal with your period cravings? Good news! There are many alternatives to your favorite foods.

Read on to find out about some alternatives to your favorite foods that you can include in your list of diet and healthy food!

Best Period Craving Foods

  • Dark chocolate is a great alternative for cookies, brownies, or any other dessert of your preference, being rich in antioxidants vitamins and minerals.
  • Frozen or refrigerated Greek yogurt is a great alternative to ice cream since it provides similar satisfaction in terms of taste and also provides essential nutrients. Top with berries and nuts for a protein-packed treat.
  • Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and are a healthy substitute for French fries.
  • Are burgers or sandwiches your comfort foods? Try using multigrain bread instead of regular bread/buns. What's the benefit? Multigrain bread is high in fiber and antioxidants. Apart from this, they contain adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Try multigrain bread sandwiches for a wholesome period!

Best period craving foods

Best Snacks for Period Cravings

  • Popcorn is a great snack that is rich in fiber and antioxidants and is a great substitute for those calorie-laden chips.
  • Nuts like almonds and walnuts are also great snacks that are high in protein and healthy fats, helping to keep you full and satisfied.

Best snacks for period cravings


By now you know that giving in to period cravings with junk food can have negative effects on your menstrual health, such as excessive bleeding, longer periods, mood swings, and nutrient deficiencies.

But don't worry, we have some great alternatives to your favorite junk foods that won't compromise your health! Opting for healthier alternatives like dark chocolate, Greek yogurt, sweet potato fries, popcorn, and multigrain bread can provide similar satisfaction while also promoting better period health.

By avoiding foods that can worsen period cramps, such as processed and fried foods, and making small changes to unhealthy eating habits, you can take control of your menstrual health and feel your best during your period.

Remember, the best period foods and snacks are the ones that nourish your body and support your menstrual health. So, ditch the worst foods to eat on your period, and junk food with low calories that do more harm than good. Start now!


Frequently Asked Questions

Junk food can negatively impact your menstrual cycle in several ways, including delaying or irregular periods, heavier bleeding, and more severe cramping. It can also worsen symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a common hormonal disorder that affects menstruating women.Avoid junk food with low calories and high amounts of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats that can exacerbate period cramps and negatively affect your overall health. To maintain a healthy menstrual cycle, it's important to make healthy food choices, especially during your period. Opt for nutritious foods like dark chocolate, frozen Greek yogurt, sweet potato fries, and multigrain bread sandwiches to satisfy your food cravings during your period.

Foods can have a significant impact on menstrual cycles. Certain foods can help alleviate menstrual symptoms, while others can exacerbate them. Women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) are particularly affected by their diet, as excess weight can worsen symptoms.When experiencing food cravings during period, it's best to choose nutrient-dense foods that provide the necessary vitamins and minerals, such as leafy greens, fruits, and lean proteins. Foods to avoid during period cramps include caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods high in sugar and salt. Worst foods to eat on your period include fried foods, dairy, and red meat, which can increase inflammation and exacerbate cramps. Opt for food with low calories, such as air-popped popcorn or dark chocolate, as an occasional treat. Unhealthy eating habits, including consuming too few calories or skipping meals, can also affect menstrual cycles.

Food craving during periods are quite common and often related to hormonal fluctuations.During the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate, leading to changes in appetite and mood, making way for unhealthy eating habits, in turn. When estrogen levels drop, the brain produces more serotonin, a feel-good hormone that can lead to cravings for carbohydrates and sugary foods.However, indulging in junk food during periods can worsen symptoms of PMS, cause inflammation, and lead to nutrient deficiencies. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives like fruits, nuts, and dark chocolate. Incorporating more fiber and protein in your diet can also help regulate hormones and reduce cravings.

Eating fast food during your period can indeed make cramps worse. In fact, giving in to fast food cravings during period, is one of the worst things to do. Fast foods are the worst foods to eat on your period because they are often high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats, which can contribute to inflammation and bloating, making your cramps feel more intense. Additionally, fast food should figure high in the list of foods to avoid while on period because it is typically low in nutrients, which can exacerbate symptoms of conditions like PCOS in women. Instead, it's best to opt for healthier options such as fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. Incorporating these foods into your diet can help reduce inflammation, boost energy levels, and support overall menstrual health.

To enhance general wellbeing throughout periods, it's crucial that you eat a balanced and nourishing diet. Consuming iron-rich plant-based meals, such as tofu, lentils, and dark leafy greens, will help restore any iron levels that may have been depleted during menstruation. Menstrual cramps can be eased by eating foods high in calcium, such as leafy greens and fortified plant-based milks. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts all contain omega-3 fatty acids that may reduce inflammation and mood swings. Consuming complex carbs, including those found in whole grains and legumes, can also stabilise energy levels and reduce cravings. It's important to drink plenty of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated. Just keep in mind that everyone has different tastes and nutritional requirements, so it's better to pay attention to your body and make adjustments.

Read More: What to eat and what not to eat on your period?


Rama Manikumar

Rama is a nutritionist and a lifestyle consultant. Having worked in the health industry for more than 20 years, her expertise in health and well-being brings a fresh and healthy approach to everyday habits- food and lifestyle. She walks the talk and delivers excellent quality nutrition, and helps develop habits that peak health & Well- being. Rama Holds a Batchelor’s degree in Biology; Extended/Specialized degree in Nutrition & Dietetics (Pennsylvania State Univ. USA).

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