Best Foods to Eat and Avoid During Your Period

Written by Jillian Lai Mei Siew on Tue, 23 January 2024

Key Highlights

  • Period cramps, or dysmenorrhea, are primarily caused by the uterine muscle contracting to help shed the uterine lining.
  • Eating certain foods can help alleviate period cramps by reducing inflammation and providing essential nutrients that support muscle relaxation and pain relief during menstruation.
  • During periods, it's beneficial to consume foods rich in magnesium, like leafy greens and nuts, as well as those containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and flaxseeds, to help alleviate cramps and ease discomfort.
  • To minimize period discomfort, it's advisable to avoid excessive caffeine and salt intake, as well as sugary and processed foods, which can exacerbate bloating and inflammation during menstruation.
  • A balanced meal plan during periods may include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and sources of essential fatty acids like chia seeds to help manage symptoms and promote overall well-being.
  • During menstruation, it's essential to focus on nutrients like iron to address potential blood loss, magnesium for muscle relaxation, and omega-3 fatty acids for reducing inflammation, all of which can help alleviate period discomfort.

Eating the right foods during your period, including leafy green vegetables, fruits, ginger, and dark chocolate, can help ease symptoms. On the other hand, certain foods like spicy foods, salty foods, and caffeine may make these symptoms more severe. 

Every month, women around the world experience a natural physiological process known as menstruation. While the monthly cycle is important for female reproductive health, it can also come with various physical and emotional challenges. During this time, understanding what to eat during periods can significantly impact on how you feel, nourish your body, ease discomfort, and maintain overall well-being.

In this blog, we'll explain how your diet can impact your menstrual health by focusing on foods that can assist you during your menstrual cycle. Let's discuss what to eat during periods to promote comfort and vitality throughout your cycle.

What Causes Period Cramps?

Period cramps, also known as dysmenorrhea, occur due to the contraction of the uterine muscles during menstruation. The uterus contracts to shed its lining, allowing the menstrual blood to flow out.

Prostaglandins, hormone-like substances that play a role in inflammation and pain, trigger these contractions. Elevated levels of prostaglandins can cause stronger and more painful uterine contractions, leading to cramps.

The contractions can temporarily reduce blood flow to the uterus, which can result in oxygen deprivation and pain, affecting the comfort of menstrual flow. Additionally, prostaglandins can also affect other organs, leading to symptoms like nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.

what causes period cramps

To reduce period cramps and discomfort, one way is to pay attention to what to eat during periods. This is crucial because your diet can significantly impact your body's response to menstruation, affecting the severity of cramps and overall comfort during this time. Not all women experience severe cramps, as individual hormone levels and sensitivities to prostaglandins vary. Managing period cramps can involve lifestyle changes, pain relievers, hormonal birth control, or other medical interventions to alleviate pain and discomfort.

Can diet help ease menstrual cramp pain?

Yes, diet can play a significant role in easing menstrual cramp pain. Incorporating certain foods and making dietary choices can help alleviate discomfort. Consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, may help reduce inflammation and ease cramps. Additionally, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins and minerals that support overall reproductive health.

Maintaining proper hydration is crucial, as dehydration can exacerbate cramps. Herbal teas like chamomile or peppermint may have soothing effects. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake is advisable, as they can contribute to dehydration and exacerbate cramping. Including magnesium-rich foods like bananas and dark chocolate may also be beneficial, as magnesium helps relax muscles and ease tension. Overall, adopting a balanced and nutritious diet can contribute to managing menstrual cramp pain.

What causes food cravings during a period?

During a woman's menstrual cycle, hormonal fluctuations, particularly changes in estrogen and progesterone levels, can contribute to food cravings. The premenstrual phase is characterized by an increase in progesterone, which may lead to a drop in blood sugar levels. This drop can trigger cravings for carbohydrates and sweets as the body seeks to restore energy levels. Additionally, hormonal changes can affect neurotransmitters like serotonin, which plays a role in mood regulation. Cravings for comfort foods may arise as a way to alleviate mood swings or emotional symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, these hormonal and neurotransmitter fluctuations are believed to influence the brain's reward and pleasure centers, contributing to the desire for specific foods during menstruation. It's important to note that individual variations exist, and not all women experience the same cravings or intensity during their periods.

How to Manage craving during your periods?

Managing cravings during your period can be challenging, but adopting some strategies can help. Firstly, focus on a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables to stabilize blood sugar levels. Incorporate iron-rich foods like lean meats and leafy greens to address potential deficiencies. Drinking plenty of water can also alleviate cravings and reduce bloating.

Consider incorporating healthy snacks, such as nuts or yogurt, to satisfy cravings without compromising nutritional goals. Engaging in regular exercise can positively impact mood and reduce cravings by releasing endorphins. Additionally, herbal teas like peppermint or chamomile may help soothe cravings and alleviate discomfort.

Listening to your body and allowing yourself occasional treats in moderation can be a sustainable approach. If cravings persist or become overwhelming, consulting with a healthcare professional can provide personalized advice for managing hormonal fluctuations during your menstrual cycle.

What are the Nutrients to Focus on During Period?

During your period, it's crucial to know what to eat during periods to support your overall well-being. Understanding the right nutrients to prioritize can make a significant difference in how you feel during this time. Here are the essential nutrients to pay attention to:

  • Iron: Iron is important because menstrual bleeding can lead to iron loss. It's necessary for the production of red blood cells and to prevent iron-deficiency anemia, which can cause fatigue and weakness. Incorporating foods that are rich in iron is essential, especially foods that reduce cramp.
  • Calcium: Some people may experience calcium loss during menstruation. Calcium is essential for maintaining strong muscles and bones. Including foods rich in calcium, like dairy products or fortified alternatives, can also contribute to reducing menstrual pain and promoting overall well-being.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium helps alleviate muscle cramps and tension that can occur during your menstrual cycle. It's one of the essential foods that reduce cramp.
  • Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is essential for regulating mood and reducing premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation and ease menstrual discomfort.
  • Fiber: Fiber aids in digestive comfort and prevents constipation during menstruation.
  • Hydration: Drinking plenty of water is essential to stay well-hydrated during your menstrual cycle, helping manage bloating and water retention.
  • Zinc: Zinc supports the immune system and overall health. Including foods rich in zinc in your diet can help support your immune system and alleviate cramps, making them foods that reduce cramps.
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants reduce inflammation and support the immune system.
  • Protein: Protein plays a crucial role in maintaining overall health and supporting the process of tissue repair.

Best Foods To Eat On Your Period

Eating the right foods during your menstrual cycle can help alleviate some of the discomfort and symptoms that many women experience. Now, let's dive into what to eat during periods to make this phase of your cycle more comfortable.

What to Eat During Periods 

1. Bananas 

Bananas are a good source of potassium, which can help reduce water retention and bloating commonly experienced during menstruation. They also provide energy and contain vitamin B6, which may help with mood swings. Bananas are among the foods that reduce cramps. Bananas are not only rich in potassium but also contain vitamin B6, which plays a crucial role in serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to mood regulation, making bananas an excellent choice for managing mood swings during menstruation. Additionally, the natural sugars in bananas provide a quick energy boost, helping combat fatigue that may accompany your period.

2. Avocado

Avocado is another excellent choice for your period. It's rich in healthy fats, particularly monounsaturated fats, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy. Avocado also contains fiber, vitamins (like vitamin K and folate), and minerals like potassium and magnesium. These nutrients can support overall well-being and help alleviate some of the discomforts associated with menstruation. The monounsaturated fats in avocados not only stabilize blood sugar levels but also contribute to heart health. These fats are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, potentially aiding in reducing menstrual discomfort. Avocado's high fiber content promotes a feeling of fullness, assisting in managing cravings and preventing overeating during your period.

3. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of potassium, which can help reduce water retention and bloating commonly experienced during menstruation. They also provide energy and contain vitamin B6, which may help with mood swings. Sweet potatoes contain not only potassium but also a significant amount of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is crucial for keeping your skin and vision healthy. The complex carbohydrates in sweet potatoes provide a sustained release of energy, helping regulate blood sugar levels and preventing mood swings during periods.

4. Lemons

 Lemons are high in vitamin C, which can boost your immune system and may help combat fatigue and mood swings. Adding lemon to water can also promote hydration. In addition to their high vitamin C content, lemons are known for their alkalizing effect on the body. Balancing the body's pH levels may contribute to reducing inflammation and discomfort associated with menstruation.

5. Oranges

Oranges, like lemons, are rich in vitamin C and can help boost your immune system. They're also a good source of natural sugars for quick energy. Oranges are not only rich in vitamin C but also provide a good amount of fiber, aiding in digestive health. The natural sugars in oranges offer a quick energy boost, while the citrus flavor can be refreshing and uplifting during your period.

6. Berries

Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants, vitamins (like vitamin C), and fiber. Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and alleviate period-related discomfort, while vitamin C supports the immune system. The fiber in berries aids in digestive health and can help prevent constipation, a common issue during menstruation. Berries are also the best comfort food for periods. Beyond their antioxidant properties, berries contain flavonoids that may help relax blood vessels and reduce menstrual cramps. Including a variety of berries in your diet can enhance the overall anti-inflammatory benefits.

7. Watermelon

Watermelon is hydrating and contains vitamins A and C, which can help reduce period-related bloating and discomfort. Watermelon is among the best period comfort food. In addition to hydration and vitamins A and C, watermelon also contains citrulline, an amino acid that may help relax blood vessels, potentially reducing the severity of menstrual cramps.

8. Almonds

Almonds are a nutrient-rich option during your period. They provide healthy fats, protein, fiber, and essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, and iron. These nutrients can help maintain stable energy levels, reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks, and combat fatigue during your period. The magnesium in almonds may also help alleviate muscle cramps and mood swings. Almonds are among the foods that reduce cramps. Along with their nutrient richness, almonds also contain tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin. This can contribute to improved mood and emotional well-being during menstruation.

9. Broccoli

Broccoli is a source of iron, which is essential during menstruation to prevent anemia and fatigue, making it a valuable food for period pain relief. It also contains fiber and vitamins to support overall health. Rich in iron, broccoli also provides a substantial amount of vitamin K, essential for blood clotting. Ensuring adequate vitamin K intake can be beneficial in managing menstrual flow.

10. Kale

Kale is another iron-rich leafy green that can help combat fatigue and replenish iron stores lost during your period. Apart from being an iron-rich leafy green, kale also contains lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that contribute to eye health. This is an additional advantage for those experiencing visual changes during their menstrual cycle.

11. Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate in moderation can be a mood booster due to its serotonin-boosting properties. It also contains magnesium, which can help relieve cramps. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that may have a mild diuretic effect. This can help in reducing water retention and bloating during menstruation.

12. Oats

Oats are rich in fiber and can help regulate blood sugar levels, reducing mood swings and cravings, making them a useful food for period pain relief. They also contain vitamin B. In addition to their fiber content, oats are a good source of selenium, a mineral that acts as an antioxidant and supports immune function. This can be particularly beneficial during a time when the body may be more susceptible to changes in immune response.

13. Pineapple

Pineapple contains bromelain, an enzyme with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce bloating and ease digestive discomfort. Beyond its bromelain content, pineapple is a good source of manganese, a trace mineral that plays a role in bone health and may contribute to alleviating menstrual discomfort associated with bone-related symptoms.

14. Quinoa

Quinoa is a nutritious grain that is high in protein, fiber, and essential minerals such as iron and magnesium. It can help maintain stable blood sugar levels, reduce fatigue, and support overall well-being during your period. Quinoa's protein content is especially beneficial for people who follow vegans who may have increased iron needs. Quinoa's high magnesium content can not only help with muscle cramps but also contributes to bone health. This dual benefit makes quinoa a valuable addition to your diet during menstruation.

15. Turmeric

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. It may help alleviate menstrual pain and discomfort when consumed regularly. Turmeric is among the foods that reduce cramps. Curcumin, found in turmeric, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may provide relief from inflammation and pain associated with menstrual cramps.

16. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are a source of omega-3 fatty acids and fiber, making them a great choice among foods to balance hormones during periods. These nutrients can help reduce inflammation and improve digestive health, which may be especially beneficial during menstruation. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds are a rich source of lignans, plant compounds that may have estrogen-like effects. These compounds can help balance hormone levels during menstruation.

17. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are high in omega-3s, fiber, and protein. They can help regulate blood sugar levels, provide energy, and support overall health. Chia seeds, rich in omega-3s, also contain phosphorus, a mineral important for bone health. Including chia seeds in your diet can contribute to overall skeletal well-being during your period.

18. Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat bread is a good source of complex carbohydrates, fiber, and essential nutrients like B vitamins and iron. These nutrients can help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide sustained energy throughout the day, which can be especially important during your period when energy levels may fluctuate. Additionally, the fiber in whole wheat bread can help maintain regular digestion. The B vitamins in whole wheat bread, particularly B6 and B12, play a crucial role in energy metabolism. Ensuring sufficient intake of these vitamins can help combat fatigue and support overall energy levels during menstruation.

19. Nuts

Nuts, including almonds, walnuts, and cashews, are nutrient-dense and provide healthy fats, protein, fiber, and essential minerals like magnesium and iron. These nutrients can help maintain energy levels, reduce cravings for unhealthy snacks, and combat fatigue during your period. The magnesium in nuts may also help alleviate muscle cramps and mood swings. Walnuts, in particular, are high in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid. This specific type of omega-3 may offer additional anti-inflammatory benefits during menstruation.

20. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a whole grain that is rich in dietary fiber and complex carbohydrates. It provides a steady release of energy and can help prevent blood sugar spikes and crashes, reducing mood swings and cravings. Brown rice also contains vitamins and minerals like magnesium and B vitamins, which can help alleviate menstrual symptoms. Beyond its fiber content, brown rice is a good source of manganese, a trace mineral that plays a role in the synthesis of fatty acids. This can help maintain hormonal balance during menstruation.

21. Leafy Green Vegetables

Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and Swiss chard are beneficial during menstruation due to their high iron content, which helps replenish the iron lost through menstrual bleeding. These greens also provide essential vitamins such as vitamin K, which supports blood clotting, and vitamin B6, known for alleviating mood swings and menstrual-related irritability. Additionally, the fiber in dark leafy greens aids in regulating digestion and managing bloating often associated with periods. Consuming these nutrient-rich greens can contribute to overall menstrual health by supporting iron levels, reducing discomfort, and promoting a well-balanced diet during this time.

21. Ginger

Ginger is often recommended for managing menstrual symptoms due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It can help alleviate menstrual cramps by reducing the production of prostaglandins, which are associated with pain and inflammation. Consuming ginger in various forms, such as ginger tea or supplements, may provide relief from bloating and discomfort during menstruation. Additionally, ginger's natural muscle relaxant properties can contribute to easing tension in the uterine muscles, promoting a more comfortable menstrual experience. While ginger is generally considered safe, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating it into your routine, especially if you have existing medical conditions or are taking medications. Overall, ginger can be a natural and effective way to manage menstrual symptoms for some individuals.

22. Turmeric

Turmeric is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate menstrual cramps and reduce overall discomfort during periods. Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is thought to inhibit the production of inflammatory prostaglandins. Incorporating turmeric into your diet or taking supplements may provide relief from menstrual pain. However, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new remedy, as individual responses can vary. Some people find relief by adding turmeric to warm beverages or meals, while others may opt for turmeric supplements, but moderation is key to avoid potential side effects. It's important to note that while turmeric may offer some benefits, it should not replace medical advice or treatment for menstrual issues.

23. Whole grains

Whole grains can be beneficial during menstruation due to their rich fiber content, which helps regulate bowel movements and reduce bloating. Foods like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are excellent choices as they provide sustained energy and can help alleviate fatigue often associated with periods. Additionally, whole grains contain essential nutrients such as iron and magnesium, which may help counteract menstrual-related deficiencies. Incorporating whole grains into your diet during your period can contribute to overall well-being by promoting digestive health and providing a steady release of energy throughout the day. Remember to stay hydrated and maintain a balanced diet for optimal menstrual health.

24. Yogurt

Yogurt can be beneficial during periods as it is a good source of calcium, which may help alleviate menstrual cramps and reduce water retention. The probiotics in yogurt also support gut health, potentially easing digestive issues commonly associated with menstruation. Additionally, the high protein content in yogurt can help maintain energy levels and stabilize blood sugar, contributing to overall well-being during this time. Opting for plain yogurt without added sugars is advisable to avoid potential inflammation.

25. Lean Protein

During your menstrual cycle, incorporating lean protein sources into your diet can provide essential nutrients and support overall well-being. Opt for lean proteins like Seitan, tofu, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. These foods are rich in iron, zinc, and B-vitamins, which can help combat fatigue and replenish nutrients lost during menstruation. Including lean protein in your meals can also contribute to stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing cravings, and supporting muscle health. Additionally, consuming foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseeds or chia seeds, may help alleviate menstrual symptoms like cramps and inflammation. Remember to maintain a balanced diet to support your body's needs during this time.

26. Beetroot

Beetroot is believed to be beneficial for menstrual health due to its high iron content, which helps replenish the iron lost during menstruation, preventing anemia. Rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, beetroot may alleviate menstrual cramps and reduce bloating. The presence of betaine in beetroot supports liver function, aiding in hormonal balance. Consuming beetroot can also regulate blood flow and improve overall circulation, potentially reducing heavy menstrual flow. Including beetroot in your diet during periods can be a nutritious way to address menstrual discomfort and promote overall well-being. However, individual responses may vary, and it's advisable to consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

27. Mango

Mangoes are a nutritious fruit that can provide several benefits, even during menstruation. They contain vitamins, such as A and C, minerals, and dietary fiber that contribute to overall health and well-being. The vitamins in mangoes, particularly vitamin C, are known to boost immune function and aid in tissue repair. However, it's important to note that individual responses to dietary choices may vary, and specific claims about mangoes influencing menstrual cycles lack scientific backing.

28. Papaya

Unripe papaya is well-known for its potential to enhance uterine contractions, which are beneficial during periods. The enzyme papain in unripe papaya may also possess anti-inflammatory properties, potentially easing menstrual cramps. It is recommended to consume unripe papaya juice regularly for a few months, but avoid it during your actual period. Remember, individual responses to diet changes vary, so it's wise to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

29. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is believed to help alleviate menstrual cramps due to its anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Consuming cinnamon may reduce the severity and duration of menstrual pain by easing muscle contractions and improving blood flow. It can be incorporated into the diet by adding it to foods, drinks, or taking it as a supplement.

30. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium and zinc, which play roles in muscle function and hormonal balance. Some believe that these nutrients may help alleviate certain symptoms associated with menstruation, such as cramps and mood swings. Incorporating pumpkin seeds into a well-balanced diet can contribute to overall health, but specific effects on menstrual periods may vary among individuals. Along with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds also contribute to supporting a healthy menstrual cycle due to their rich content of essential minerals such as magnesium and zinc. These minerals play a role in maintaining hormonal balance, specifically levels of estrogen and progesterone.

31. Edamame

Edamame, commonly known as young soybeans, can be beneficial during menstruation due to their high nutritional content. Rich in iron, edamame helps replenish the iron lost during periods, reducing the risk of anemia and fatigue. Additionally, edamame is a good source of calcium, which may alleviate menstrual cramps and support overall bone health. The fiber content in edamame aids in digestion, potentially easing bloating and discomfort associated with menstruation. Including edamame in your diet during periods can be a tasty and nutritious way to support your overall well-being.

32. Peppermint tea

Peppermint tea can be beneficial for menstrual symptoms, as it helps to alleviate cramps and reduce muscle spasms. The menthol in peppermint has a calming effect on the muscles of the uterus, providing relief from menstrual pain. Additionally, the tea's anti-inflammatory properties may help reduce overall discomfort during menstruation. Drinking peppermint tea can also help ease bloating and digestive issues commonly associated with periods. It is a natural and soothing remedy that many women find helpful for menstrual relief.

33. Kombucha

Some individuals believe that kombucha may contribute to restoring balance in hormones and digestive systems due to its rich probiotic content. The probiotics in kombucha may assist in detoxifying harmful bacteria, yeast, and toxins, potentially promoting optimal reproductive health. Additionally, Kombucha contains B vitamins, which could contribute to boosting mood and energy levels.

34. Red Beans

Red beans, also known as adzuki beans, offer several benefits for menstrual health. These legumes are rich in iron, a crucial mineral that helps replenish the blood lost during menstruation, preventing anemia and fatigue. Additionally, red beans contain magnesium, which may alleviate menstrual cramps and promote muscle relaxation. Their fiber content aids in maintaining regular bowel movements, addressing common digestive issues often associated with menstruation. Moreover, the presence of essential nutrients like zinc and vitamin B6 further contributes to overall well-being during the menstrual cycle. Including red beans in your diet can be a nutritious and supportive choice for menstrual health.

35. Herbal Soups

Herbal soups can be beneficial during menstruation, offering relief from menstrual cramps and discomfort. Ingredients like ginger and turmeric have anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain. Nettle leaf, rich in iron, may combat fatigue and replenish lost nutrients. Chamomile in the soup can have a calming effect, reducing stress and anxiety often associated with periods. Additionally, incorporating herbs like dill or parsley may help regulate menstrual cycles. Overall, these herbal soups provide a comforting and natural way to support women's health during their periods.

36. Herbal Teas

Certain herbal teas can offer relief during menstruation. Chamomile tea helps soothe cramps and relax muscles, easing discomfort. Ginger tea reduces inflammation and alleviates nausea often associated with periods. Peppermint tea can relieve bloating and provide a calming effect. Raspberry leaf tea is known for toning the uterine muscles, potentially reducing menstrual cramps. Overall, these herbal teas offer natural and comforting solutions to manage various symptoms during your menstrual cycle.

38. Water

Drinking an adequate amount of water during your menstrual cycle can provide several benefits. Staying hydrated helps alleviate bloating and water retention commonly associated with periods. Proper hydration can also reduce the severity of menstrual cramps, as water helps relax muscles and promotes overall well-being. Hydration is essential for maintaining optimal blood circulation, which may help regulate menstrual flow and reduce clot formation. Additionally, drinking water can mitigate fatigue and improve mood, contributing to a more comfortable and manageable menstrual experience. It is advisable to maintain regular water intake throughout the menstrual cycle to support overall health and well-being.

39. Lentils

Including lentils in your diet during menstruation can be beneficial due to their high iron content, which helps replenish the iron lost during periods, preventing fatigue and weakness. Lentils also provide a good source of protein, aiding in muscle repair and overall energy levels. Additionally, their fiber content helps regulate digestion and alleviate bloating or constipation often associated with menstrual cycles. Lentils are rich in folate, supporting overall reproductive health. Lastly, their low glycemic index helps stabilize blood sugar levels, potentially reducing mood swings and cravings during periods.

40. Tofu

During periods, incorporating tofu into your diet can be beneficial due to its high iron and calcium content. A preferred source of protein for vegetarians and vegans, tofu is made from soybeans. It’s rich in iron, magnesium, and calcium, which are essential nutrients for replenishing the body's stores, especially during menstruation when there is increased iron loss. Tofu's versatility allows for various culinary preparations, making it easy to include in different meals to support your nutritional needs during this time. Consider adding tofu to salads, stir-fries, or soups for a nutritious and satisfying option during your menstrual cycle.

7 Important Things You Should Avoid During Periods

During periods, some foods and drinks may exacerbate menstrual symptoms, while others can help alleviate discomfort. 

What Foods to Avoid During Periods

Here are 7 foods to avoid during periods:

1. Caffeine

Coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas can increase anxiety, trigger irritations, and lead to breast tenderness. They can also worsen bloating and digestive issues. These are definite foods to avoid during your period as they can disrupt blood sugar levels and increase inflammation. In addition to triggering anxiety and breast tenderness, it's essential to note that caffeine can also impact sleep patterns. Disturbed sleep during your period can exacerbate fatigue and mood swings. To minimize these effects, consider opting for decaffeinated alternatives or herbal teas that provide a soothing experience without the stimulating effects of caffeine.

2. Sugary Foods

High-sugar foods like candy, pastries, and sugary drinks can lead to energy crashes and worsen mood swings. These are definite foods to avoid during your period as they can disrupt blood sugar levels and increase inflammation. High-sugar foods not only contribute to energy crashes and mood swings but can also intensify menstrual cramps. Excessive sugar consumption may lead to increased production of prostaglandins, compounds that play a role in uterine contractions and pain. Choosing snacks with lower glycemic index and natural sugars, such as fruits, can help manage energy levels more effectively.

3. Fatty and Fried Foods

Foods high in saturated fats, such as fried items, can exacerbate inflammation and bloating. These are definite foods to avoid during your period as they can lead to discomfort and weight gain. Opt for healthier alternatives to minimize these effects. While saturated fats can indeed contribute to inflammation and bloating, it's important to highlight the role of omega-3 fatty acids. Including sources of omega-3s, like fatty fish or flaxseeds, in your diet during menstruation can have anti-inflammatory effects and potentially alleviate discomfort. Striking a balance with healthier fats can provide a more holistic approach to managing period-related symptoms.

4. Salty Foods

Excessive salt intake can worsen water retention and bloating. Therefore, it's advisable to consume processed foods, canned soups, and salty snacks in moderation, as these are foods you should avoid during your period. Instead of avoiding all salty foods, focus on reducing the intake of highly processed and sodium-rich snacks. Opt for foods rich in potassium, like bananas or sweet potatoes, which can help counteract sodium's effects and regulate fluid balance. Adequate hydration is also crucial during menstruation to help flush out excess sodium and alleviate bloating.

5. Dairy Products

Some women may be sensitive to dairy during their periods, which can lead to increased abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Be mindful of foods to avoid during periods and consider alternatives like lactose-free or plant-based milk. While some women may experience sensitivity to dairy, it's worth mentioning that dairy is a good source of calcium, which plays a role in muscle function and can help alleviate menstrual cramps. If dairy is problematic, consider incorporating calcium-rich alternatives such as fortified plant-based milk or leafy greens into your diet to support overall menstrual health.

6. Processed foods

During periods, it is advisable to limit the consumption of processed foods. These foods often contain high levels of salt, sugar, and artificial additives, which can contribute to bloating and water retention, exacerbating menstrual discomfort. Additionally, processed foods may lack essential nutrients needed for overall well-being during this time. Opting for whole, nutrient-dense foods can help regulate hormones, alleviate cramps, and provide sustained energy, promoting a healthier and more comfortable menstrual experience. Prioritizing natural and minimally processed options supports overall menstrual health.

7. Alcohol

During periods, it's advisable to avoid alcohol for several reasons. Firstly, alcohol can worsen menstrual symptoms like cramps and bloating. Secondly, it may disrupt hormonal balance, affecting your menstrual cycle. Thirdly, alcohol can lead to dehydration, intensifying feelings of fatigue common during menstruation. Additionally, alcohol can interfere with blood clotting, potentially increasing menstrual flow. Lastly, consuming alcohol can negatively impact mood and emotional well-being, exacerbating mood swings often experienced during periods. 

Remember that individual reactions to food during menstruation can vary. It's essential to listen to your body and adjust your diet based on your specific needs and comfort. Staying hydrated with water and consuming nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help alleviate menstrual discomfort.

Meals To Eat On Your Period

Here's a sample meal plan that outlines what to eat during periods for a smoother experience:


  • A bowl of oatmeal topped with banana slices and a sprinkle of chia seeds  
  • A glass of fortified orange juice can be a nutritious addition to your breakfast during your periods.


  • Quinoa salad with chickpeas, cucumber, and avocado 
  • Red bean soup can be a part of your lunchtime meal
  • A side of almond yogurt


  • Mixed nuts and berries


  • Tofu baked with steamed broccoli on the side
  • Brown rice


In conclusion, understanding the relationship between your diet and menstrual health can empower you to navigate your monthly cycle with greater ease and comfort. By making mindful choices about the foods, you consume during your period, you can reduce period pain, boost your mood, and maintain overall well-being. Including nutrient-rich options like bananas, avocados, berries, and whole grains can provide essential nutrients and stabilize energy levels.

Hydrating with water and soothing herbal teas can further aid in relieving menstrual symptoms. Healthy blood vessels can improve blood flow, reducing discomfort during your period. Conversely, it's wise to limit or avoid caffeine, sugary, fatty, and salty foods, as they can exacerbate discomfort. Ultimately, tailoring your diet to your body's unique needs, including foods to eat that nourish your uterine lining, can lead to a smoother and more comfortable menstrual experience, allowing you to truly understand what to eat during periods for a healthier cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, you can drink coffee during your period. There is no specific medical reason to avoid coffee while menstruating. However, some individuals may experience increased sensitivity to caffeine during their periods, which could potentially exacerbate symptoms like anxiety, irritability, or breast tenderness. If you find that caffeine makes your menstrual symptoms worse, you may want to consider reducing your coffee intake or switching to decaffeinated coffee during your period. Ultimately, it's a matter of personal preference and how your body responds to caffeine.

Drinking warm water can help alleviate some of the discomfort associated with period pain for some individuals. The warmth of the water may help relax the uterine muscles and improve blood flow to the area, which can provide relief from cramps and lower back pain. Additionally, staying hydrated is important during your period, as it can help reduce bloating and other symptoms. However, the effectiveness of warm water in reducing period pain varies from person to person. Some people may find it helpful, while others may not experience significant relief. If you're experiencing severe or persistent menstrual pain, it's a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider, as there are various medical treatments and interventions available to manage period pain.

Several effective home remedies can alleviate period pain:

  • Heat Therapy: Applying a heating pad or warm compress to your lower abdomen relaxes muscles and eases cramps.
  • Herbal Teas: Ginger, chamomile, or peppermint tea can have soothing, anti-inflammatory effects that reduce discomfort.
  • Hydration: Staying well-hydrated helps prevent bloating and minimizes pain.
  • Dietary Choices: Incorporate omega-3-rich foods like salmon and magnesium sources like bananas into your diet for pain relief.
  • Light Exercise: Gentle activities like yoga or walking boost circulation and reduce cramps.
  • Over-the-Counter Medications: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or aspirin can be effective when used according to instructions.
  • Stress Reduction: Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation help manage stress, reducing pain intensity.

During period pain, you can drink various soothing beverages to alleviate discomfort. Herbal teas like chamomile or ginger tea can help relax muscles and reduce cramps. Warm water with lemon may also provide relief. Staying hydrated with plain water is essential to ease bloating and maintain overall health. Additionally, consuming warm milk or a hot water bottle can soothe abdominal pain. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can exacerbate symptoms. Experiment with these options to find what works best for you, and consult a healthcare professional for severe or persistent menstrual pain.

Incorporating a diet for menstrual cramps into your routine is simple. Start by adding nutrient-rich options like bananas, avocados, berries, and whole grains to your meals. For breakfast, enjoy oatmeal topped with fruits and seeds. Include salads with chickpeas, cucumber, and avocado for lunch, and snack on mixed nuts and berries. At dinner, opt for tofu, steamed broccoli, and brown rice. These foods provide essential nutrients to ease menstrual cramps. Hydrate with water and herbal teas, as they improve blood flow. Avoid caffeine, sugary, fatty, and salty foods, which can exacerbate cramps. Tailor your choices to your unique preferences and needs for a smoother menstrual experience.

Yes, eating habits can influence your menstrual cycle. A balanced and nutritious diet can help regulate hormones and reduce the severity of period symptoms such as cramps, mood swings, and bloating. Consuming foods rich in certain nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to a more comfortable and regular menstrual cycle. Conversely, an unhealthy diet with excessive processed foods, caffeine, and sugar may disrupt hormonal balance and exacerbate period-related discomfort. While dietary changes alone may not drastically alter your cycle, they can certainly play a role in managing its symptoms and promoting overall menstrual health.

It's generally advisable to avoid overly spicy foods during your period. Spicy foods can irritate the digestive system and exacerbate gastrointestinal discomfort, which is already common during menstruation for some individuals. Spices like chili and hot peppers can lead to bloating, gas, and indigestion, making period-related symptoms like cramps and abdominal discomfort worse. Opting for milder, soothing foods is often a better choice to promote comfort during menstruation. However, individual tolerance varies, so if you find that mild spice doesn't bother you, moderate consumption may be acceptable, but excessive heat should be avoided during your period.

There is limited scientific evidence to suggest that certain foods can potentially influence the timing of your menstrual cycle, although these effects are generally minor and not a reliable method for delaying periods. Some women believe that consuming high amounts of vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits or parsley may help delay menstruation, as they can slightly increase estrogen levels. Additionally, some herbs like ginger and turmeric are thought to have similar effects. However, it's essential to note that these methods are not scientifically proven, and attempting to manipulate your menstrual cycle with diet is not recommended. Consult a healthcare professional for safe and effective options if needed.


Jillian Lai Mei Siew

As the Product Consultant Manager of Mega BiO-LiFE, Jillian Lai Mei Siew, has the role of providing a productive team spirit among all Product Consultants to equip them with the right health nutritional information. Jillian is a BSc in Nutrition and Community Health, and a MSc in Nutritional Sciences an from Universiti Putra Malaysia. Affiliated to the Professional Affiliation Languages & Dialects Nutrition Society of Malaysia, NSM, Jillian can speak English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien and Malay.

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