By Cheshire Que, RND, RN, RD
You, women, are probably doing great on your healthy resolutions the first month of the year. You can say that, until Aunt Flow comes to visit and you find yourself taking a step back as the monthly cravings creep in or, worse, you begin to put on a pound or two due to water retention, hormones, and excess calories from comfort food.
Here are some tips on how to prevent fatigue, bloating, and weight gain during your menstrual period:
Catch up on your eight-hour sleep. By sleeping eight hours a day, you are doing yourself a favor, not to mention a world of good to your mood, memory, and immune system! Lack of sleep also contributes to weight gain and obesity because it intensifies food cravings due to the release of the hormone ghrelin.
Go easy on sweets and fried food. Balance out your calorie intake and minimize the junk or empty calorie food in your life, a.k.a fried, sweet, and salty. Excessive intake makes you cramp, bloat, and may cause a sudden rise and fall on your sugar levels, thus affecting your mood as well. If you have to have that piece of chocolate, practice portion control, savor each bite, and be content with just tasting and not bingeing.
Eat fresh. Fruits and vegetables cleanse the digestive system, clear the skin, and promote weight loss. Regular bowel movement, especially during your red days, keeps you light and less bloated. And because they’re high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, it helps to increase your satiety, making you feel full with just a few servings!
Forget drastic and fad diets, stock up on these veggies instead:
- Ampalaya – rich in iron and has insulin-like properties that help control blood glucose
- Malunggay and other dark, leafy veggies – also rich in iron which boosts and promotes good mood, and combats fatigue
- Carrots – high in Vitamin A for a healthy, glowing skin
- Kangkong or Chinese spinach – packed with high amount of calcium for stronger bones
- Chayote – full of fiber that promotes digestive health and folate for DNA synthesis and healthy blood cells
If you are serious about infusing your food with nutrient-dense ingredients, keeping a food journal is a great way to set up your meal plan to success. That way, it encourages you to consume fewer calories and provide the motivation you need every single day!
Take a multivitamin supplement if your intake of nutrient-rich food is inadequate.
Minimizing salty and sweet food you badly crave does not mean you become instantly healthy. The absence of nutritious foods is a red flag that should be addressed, too. An iron supplement may help prevent iron deficiency anemia for those with heavy menstrual flow. Take multivitamins that have all the necessary vitamins, including calcium for strong bones and folate for a healthy heart and sound mind.
Move. Move. Move. All that daily inactivity is the biggest health hazard you’re up against. Desk jobs, long commutes, and too much Facebook and Netflix are about as fattening as a steady diet of bacon and hotdogs. Here are some ways to stand up and just go: walk around your home while on the phone, wash your car instead of taking it to the car wash, grab a coffee “to go” and walk as you sip! Mindful movement can offset all the sitting you can’t avoid and may help you burn more calories a day.
The greatest hindrance to working out is a woman’s monthly period. And we all know that movement is essential to keeping the energy level up as well as to preventing bloatedness. So if you find yourself constantly using your period as an excuse to not go to the gym, take it from restaurateur and blogger Dianne Salazar. She said, “That time of the month doesn’t need to hinder you from physical activities like working out. It helps you feel less sluggish and boosts your mood. I do CrossFit almost every day even when I’m on my period. “
Working out with a heavy flow may be messy and downright uncomfortable. Diane recommends using quality sanitary pads to make sure you are worry-free and fully protected from leaks. That way, you can maximize your workout and even enjoy it. “With Jeunesse Anion All Night Pad, I need not worry about leaks and discomfort. It gives me maximum protection even when I lift heavy weights,” she says.
Ladies, your monthly period is a gift and it should not stop you from reaching your fitness goals.