Expert Tips For Managing Menstrual Pain With Food—With Amy J. Hammer, Author Of “Cycles”!
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I’ve had painful period cramps for most of my life, and when I was diagnosed with endometriosis a year ago after discovering it during a laparoscopy procedure, it all started to make sense as to why my cramps were always so severe—to the point where I would sometimes vomit.
Menstrual pain in general can be a difficult and very uncomfortable experience for many women, but if you have Endometriosis or a similar condition (like PCOS), that pain can intensified by a million.
With that said, medication can only do so much to minimize pain, and if you’re like me and refuse to be placed on hormonal contraceptives to help with pain, then you have to self-educate and learn alternatives to traditional pain management—because you are your own best advocate.
Fortunately, there are a variety of strategies that can be used to help manage the pain without medication, and one of the most effective strategies is controlling menstrual pain with food.
It turns out that certain foods can help reduce the severity of menstrual cramps, while others can make your pain even worse.
For example, eating foods that are high in magnesium such as dark leafy greens, and Omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish, can help reduce the pain associated with menstruation. Whereas highly processed foods and alcohol can make inflammation worse.
Knowing what to eat and what to avoid for menstrual health can be pretty confusing, so I was THRILLED to find a book that has literally become my PERIOD Bible.
“Cycles” by Amy J.Hammer is a staple on my bookshelf. I binged on the information the first day that I got it in the mail, and continue to use it whenever I need to retrieve a recipe from it!
What’s that? Recipes? Yup! This wonderful book isn’t just about scientific facts. This gem contains A LOT of recipes, all of which go hand-in-hand with specific phases of your cycle to help you feel your absolute best.
”Menstrual cramps—their severity and whether we get them, are connected to our lifestyle and overall health”—Amy J. Hammer
This book has been an invaluable resource in my journey to become healthier, and has provided me with the knowledge and tools to make better decisions in my diet and lifestyle choices:
- 40 nutrient-dense, menstrual-phase specific recipes that support overall health.
- The science of menstrual cycles and how the different phases of the cycle affect the brain and body beyond the reproductive system.
- How to track your cycle using fertility awareness–based methods.
- How to prepare and what to expect during the menopausal transition and beyond.
- Detailed movement, self-care, and nutrition tips that optimize overall health throughout the menstrual cycle phases and your lifespan
With that said, below is a sneak peek from Amy’s book, Cycles. It’s a list of what foods to avoid, and what foods to load up on for a healthy period to reduce inflammation.
Foods To Avoid If You Struggle With Period Pain
According to the author, there are certain foods that should be avoided in order to maintain good menstrual health, improve gut-health, and minimize cramping. With that said, here is what the author recommends:
- Avoid foods with added sugar, artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.
- Avoid refined and processed vegetable oils like corn, soy and canola.
- Avoid conventional dairy products (opt for grass-fed organic milk or plant-based milk alternatives).
- Avoid processed and refined grains.
- Avoid poor quality conventional meat.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine.
Foods To Embrace If You Struggle With Period Pain
- Eat a high fiber diet consisting of vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
- Eat plenty of wild fish such as salmon, sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and other omega-3 rich foods such as flax, chia seeds, walnuts and oysters.
- Add anti-inflammatory spices to your cooking such as turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
- Consume plentiful healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil, butter from grass-fed cows, ghee, coconut oil and fat from pastured animals.
- When you eat meat, eggs, seafood or wild game, eat the good stuff: pasture mixed, organic, grass-fed, free-range, and/or wild-caught.
- Eat magnesium-loaded foods consisting of leafy greens, avocados, almonds, salmon, sweet potatoes, figs, fermented dairy products, legume and beans.
- Eat zinc-rich foods such as oysters, mussels, pumpkin seeds, beef, lamb, organ meats, yogurt, chickpeas and cashews.
- Up your intake of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented dairy, and lacto-fermented vegetables.
It is important to note that while food can be an effective way to manage menstrual pain, it is not a substitute for medical treatment.
If you are experiencing severe menstrual cramps, it is important to speak to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment. Additionally, it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced diet to ensure that your body is getting the proper nutrition it needs.
By controlling menstrual pain with food, you can greatly reduce the severity of your menstrual cramps and make your period more manageable.
For more amazing tips, check out Amy’s book “Cycles: The Science of Periods, Why They Matter, and How to Nourish Each Phase.” It’s available on Amazon, and it’s a must-have staple on your bookshelf.
About The Author
AMY J. HAMMER, FNP believes in humble methods and solid tools that help readers cultivate meaningful lives. Her background in teaching yoga and movement, journalism, and environmental studies along with her experience as a family nurse practitioner in cardiac intensive care give her a unique and dynamic approach to wellness. She is the author of How to Grow a Baby (Roost Books).
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