pms! pms has been the bane of my existence for many, many moons. after having a baby, the return of pms was irksome (although, 9 months of hormonal roller coasters was somewhat comparable). i have pretty much tried everything that i could find to rid myself of the curse of pms including nutrition, supplements, essential oils, herbs, teas, tinctures, voodoo and of course booze. i once had a nutritionist tell me that there is nothing you can do to fully eliminate pms, and sadly i have found her to be correct. there are, however, lots of things that you can do to make it less intolerable.
understanding what is going on in there is a good first step. as estrogen levels go up and down, so do levels of the stress hormone cortisol. when cortisol levels go up, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode and appetite is stimulated, and the body seeks out fat and carbs. during pms levels of serotonin (our natural anti-depressant) also tend to drop, and the body craves carbs because it uses complex carbs to make serotonin. the body metabolizes simple sugars more quickly than complex carbs, so often sugar is a big craving for a quick serotonin boost.
while i haven’t found any way to completely control my hormonal fluctuations, i have found that eating healthier foods to satisfy cravings goes a long way. unhealthy carbs, sugars & fats throw your mood regulators all out of whack, on top of the hormonal fluctuations already occurring. healthy fats help to regulate sex hormones. fats like those found in coconut oil, olive oil, animal fats and real butter contain the good fats that we need. our bodies can’t process polyunsaturated fats found in oils like soybean, peanut, canola and vegetable oil and those found in margarine and shortening. these fats cause inflammation and can clog arteries as well. complex carbs found in whole grains, rice, quinoa and potatoes give us fuel to burn, but processed breads and starches like pizza, pasta and chips (fried in unhealthy oils) slow us down. sugar is probably the worst at exacerbating pms symptoms, as it causes spikes and then crashes in glucose which contribute to mood swings.
here are my top 5 fave things to help pms cravings & symptoms.
- potatoes! potatoes are full of potassium, which helps regulate heartbeat & nerve signals. they’re also full of magnesium, which is the anti-stress & relaxation mineral and helps ease bloating & fluid retention. sweet potatoes have vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin) which helps energy levels and moods. try baking instead of frying, and using healthy oils like coconut and olive. this recipe for oven baked garlic fries is amazing. oven baked rosemary potato chips are equally amazing. one of my favorites is to bake a sweet potato (pierce with a fork, wrap in aluminum foil & bake in 400 degree oven for about 40 minutes) and then top it with 2 tablespoons of natural almond butter (just be sure to buy the fresh ground almond butter with no added oils).
- smoothies. smoothies can be like little milkshakes. you can easily pack in healthy fruits & veggies and still have a sweet shake. this chocolate mint smoothie is delicious and made with avocado (healthy fat). dates are one of my favorite things to satisfy sugar cravings because although they are high in natural sugars, they are still low glycemic (so they won’t jack up your blood sugar). this vanilla date smoothie is so good.
- amino supplements. the key neurotransmitters in our brains are made out of amino acids. amino acids are found in high protein foods, so if you are eating three meals a day with large amounts of protein at each meal, your moods should be regular. most of us do not get the amount of aminos that we need to keep our moods regular. add hormonal fluctuation to the mix and drops in serotonin and you can be pretty crusty, mood wise. i have found that the amino acid glutamine (or l-glutamine) works wonders to alleviate sugar cravings and keep the blood sugar levels regulated. 5HTP (or tryptophan) raises serotonin levels and improves mood and sleep. and gaba helps calm nervous energy and is known as a natural tranquilizer. i find these all super helpful at keeping my moods regular throughout the stormy weeks.
- essential oils. i have found diffusing essential oils surprisingly effective at helping pms symptoms. this pms ease blend is nice. i really love clary sage (which supports hormone balance) and ylang ylang (which is a natural anti-depressant) for pms and this blend contains both. it also has the all around wonder oil lavender which makes everything feel dreamy and okay.
- turmeric! just one of the many amazing features of this wonder spice is that it helps ease pms symptoms. it’s an anti-inflammatory and natural pain killer. this turmeric tea is delicious and creamy.
may you suffer far, far less this month my friends. the end.