You’ll be doing fine diet-wise and working out everyday. Then all of the sudden, you get smacked in the face with a butt load of crazy-making hormones and you are starving, borderline psychotic and exhausted. Welcome back, PMS, you cruel cold-hearted bitch.
The starving thing is normal and makes sense when you think about it – your body thinks you’re pregnant so it wants to pack on the pounds. And you do need to eat a little extra calorie intake during this point at your cycle, but you can control it. How? You increase serotonin. Serotonin is a feel good hormone that gets secreted from non-fruit carbohydrates – you know how you get the happy from eating chocolate? That’s serotonin. Unfortunately, most of those carbs that we crave aren’t good for the waistline and for most of us, when you’re PMSing and dip into the chocolate or the chips, you can’t stop until the bar is gone or the bag is empty. There’s another way.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps the body produce niacin and serotonin. Eating foods high in tryptophan trigger that serotonin release so your PMS cravings go away and you’ll also sleep better, which is also great for weight loss. Like you need a good reason to get some sleep?
Some foods high in tryptophan:
- Dairy products
- Animal proteins like fish, turkey, beef, chicken, pork and eggs
- SHAKEOLOGY!!! WHAT UP! (plus you can drink the chocolate or make it into ice cream and get your fix without the guilt)
- Legumes like chickpeas and lentils
- Whole grains – oats, brown rice, wheat germ, quinoa
- Nuts and seeds
So that solves the diet bit, but what about exercise? Surely, who can think about working out when you feel bloated and crampy? Well, there are a couple of fixes for this one.
- Ditch salt and alcohol – these just make you retain water and feel more bloated, no thanks!
- Avoid simple carbs – candy, fruit, syrups, honey, pastries, chips, white bread, pizza crust… the good stuff. While these might make your tastebuds sing and release serotonin, they also increase inflammation in your body so you feel more like Stay-Puffed and less on the svelte side.
- This one is going to make you want to smack me, but I have to say it. Even though you’d rather stab yourself in the ear with a fork, EXERCISE! Guess what, it will make you feel better! By increasing your circulation to all parts of your body including your uterus, you’ll actually feel less crampy. It also relieves headaches and the endorphin release will put you in a better mood!
The rest is up to you in terms of controlling your thinking so that you stay motivated to keep on your body/health-transforming mission. This is a great time to really work on flexing your willpower, because it’s just like a muscle. You have to work it and work it for it to get strong. If the urge to binge starts getting really strong, get out of the house or go take a bath. I really recommend tracking your cycle so that you know when to get any junk food out of the house so that if you are a binger, knowing it’s all there isn’t tugging at your brain to send you to go get your fix. Whatever you can do in your busy life to take care of yourself and let yourself relax a little will help, because your diet really doesn’t have to unravel just because it’s that time of the month and you can make yourself feel better just by being healthy.