Premenstrual syndrome PMS for short, is the name given to describe a long list of emotional and physical symptoms that as many as three out of every four women experience in varying degrees ranging from fairly mild to extremely intense, in some cases severely impacting on a woman’s mental and emotional health often leading to quality of life issues. It’s just great being a woman sometimes, isn’t it?
Symptoms are generally very predictable and most women know when their cycle is due just by the way they feel both mentally and physically. You know the signs, you can sometimes become angry and aggressive towards everyone and everything, find yourself inconsolably in floods of tears for no apparent reason, craving and eating all the foods you really know you should be avoiding (er, guilty as charged my lord) and at the same time you could be experiencing physical symptoms of abdominal pain, bloating and an increase of headaches. Oh, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, symptoms typically begin about five days leading up to a cycle leaving about two weeks every month for us to feel ‘normal’, whatever normal is defined as these days. I often look back and remember my symptoms completely taking over and wreaking havoc with those closest to me being often caught in the crossfire, until I finally understood just how much diet and gentle exercise played a critical part in controlling my mood and emotions.
After making a concerted effort to make some subtle changes, I can honestly say I’ve never looked back. Once you begin to recognize the predictable pattern of your cycle and symptoms that are related to it, you too can begin to make simple adjustments, PMS does not have to control your life or negatively effect the lives of those around you who you dearly love the most, and them you.
Here’s a few tips I’d like to share with you…
Start by being kind to yourself and make sure you’re getting plenty of sleep in the days leading up to your next due date. Leave the chores for goodness sake, they can wait another day or so. Better still get your other half to do them. If you can, try to steer clear of non essential meetings, appointments, and activities, especially anything that you think may cause you to feel stressed in a bad way. Learn to listen to your body, start to recognize the symptoms, and respond to them, like when they are due to occur, put yourself first, the world and his dog can wait for a moment and this should reduce and ideally eliminate personal meltdowns. (I know, don’t worry, It happens to me too!) Take a serious look at the type of food you are consuming and consider making a few changes, opting for a healthy balanced diet containing all the nutrients that nature intended, rather than going for heavily processed or packaged options as this type of food will aggravate your symptoms, I call this method “Eating for Healthy Hormones!”
Why I personally chose to Go Paleo.
Adopting a paleo diet has worked wonders for me. It has helped to keep my hormones balanced by eating the right kind of fats and proteins and has made sure I am getting enough vitamins, minerals and fibrous roughage, you should try this too. Vitamin D is known to reduce the symptoms associated with PMS. You can find lots of Vitamin D naturally in salmon, sardines, pilchards, in fact, almost all small oily fish and by getting out and about in the sunshine. If you can, cook your own food from scratch incorporating things like fresh fish and other types of low fat protein like chicken, cook with olive or coconut oil as opposed to vegetable of animal fat. Try eating plenty of green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Stay away from highly processed foods, especially those that contain added sugar, they’re usually the foods you either crave or find convenient, such as chocolate, crisps, pastries, microwave or oven ready meals. (Quick Fix Foods)
Stay regularly hydrated. Water is actually amazing for you, it helps with digestion and reduces bloating so drink plenty of it, it’s recommended that women should drink about 2.7 litres per day. Lastly, exercise is also very important for many reasons and studies have shown that women who exercise regularly suffer from less severe PMS symptoms, it’s advisable to engage in between 120 and 150 minutes of gentle exercise per week. If you’re not doing any kind of exercise already, take your time, try out lots of different activities until you find the one you really enjoy that fits in with your lifestyle, talking from experience, the more you love it, the more likely you are to stick with it, it’s just common sense when you think about it.
So in summary, remember this, don’t be afraid to speak with your partner, family and friends about how you are feeling and begin making some positive changes. It’s perfectly acceptable to take time out for yourself when you feel you need to. Remember, you are a product of what you eat, try to consume more of the foods that mother nature intended you to and if you’re not already, start enjoying some regular light exercise, it doesn’t have to be gruelling or taxing. You will be amazed by how much your new diet and exercise regimen will improve your overall health and wellbeing and the impact that will have on both your life and the lives of those around you!