Do you find that you feel bloated near the start of your period? Many menstruators do. It’s often uncomfortable and something we’d rather go without.
Thankfully, there are certain foods that can help to reduce bloating (and other PMS symptoms).
So, why do I get bloated during my luteal phase?
Many people who bleed experience bloating during their luteal phase. The luteal phase is the second half of your cycle, from ovulation to the start of your next period. It usually lasts about 14 days before you get your period. Bloating and water retention are especially common at this time thanks to increased progesterone levels (which can slow down digestion) and also cause more sweet and carb-y cravings
So, what foods help?
Certain nutrients help support hormone detoxification, influence hormone activity or promote their production.
It’s fascinating when we look at the symptoms food can help us with. For example, protein provides amino acids – the raw materials needed for making hormones – while foods such as kale and broccoli (sulforaphane-rich foods, if we’re being exact) can help support detoxification processes including removal of excess oestrogen.
Vitamin C, found in foods such as dark leafy greens, citrus and parsley, is a key to help the production of cortisol, which influences our stress response, while magnesium-rich foods such as tofu, dark greens and nuts may help to support PMS-associated water retention and menstrual pain
Knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid during your luteal phase can help your body to balance hormone levels, restore essential micronutrients and reduce bloating.
5 bloat-busting foods for your luteal phase
During your luteal phase, progesterone levels are on the rise, meaning a slowing down of digestive activity and a higher sensitivity to blood sugar level changes.
This can explain why you’re suddenly craving all of the carb and sugar-loaded snacks you can find.
It can be helpful to have healthy snacks on hand to help regulate your blood sugar levels. And eating smaller meals more regularly (for example, every 3-4 hours) can support your digestive system.
An extra tip is to give yourself plenty of time to eat slowly and to chew your food - this will reduce how much air you’re swallowing with your food and also give time for your saliva to begin digesting your food before it hits your stomach (skipping this step adds to bloating).
Helpful foods to add into your meals include:
Your body needs healthy fats for healthy hormone balancing. Bad PMS symptoms are often caused by imbalanced hormones.
Add in some avocado, olive oil, nuts and coconut yoghurt (with digestion-boosting probiotics).
Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables
Fibre-rich foods are great for digestion (reducing bloating and constipation). They can also help reduce carb cravings.
Great options are sweet potato (high in vitamin A which helps your body reduce excess estrogen), pumpkin, apples, pears and dates. Other amazing options include celery and cucumber which are 95% water and natural diuretics meaning they can help prevent water retention.
Whole grains like quinoa, buckwheat and brown rice curb those carb cravings whilst also helping your body to get rid of excess estrogen (which it’s trying to do right now anyway).
Your body naturally loses some stored iron whilst you’re bleeding. Eating iron rich foods will help to restore iron levels and also helps with mood, energy and reducing brain fog.
Some options are nuts, beans, red meat, leafy greens and lentils. Another idea is to sprinkle some lemon juice over your meal as this will help your body to absorb iron.
Seeds are little nutritional powerhouses! And they’re so easy to add into any meal from roasts to smoothies to salads.
You can also throw in a few sesame seeds for some extra zinc and some sunflower seeds for vitamin E. These will support healthy hormone balance.
A few other tips
Drink water and herbal teas (caffeine free) for hydration.
Avoid foods and drinks that increase fluid retention, throw off hormone levels, and can increase cravings, mood swings and cramps. These include coffee, alcohol and sugary drinks.
Avoid high-salt foods as these can increase fluid retention.
Did you find this article helpful?Download the YourCycle app for personalised information on everything to do with your cycle. It’s completely free and always will be.