When youre already suffering from PMS, bloating around your middle just adds to the feelings of despondency. And if youre feeling fat – even when youre not! – youre more likely to feel sorry for yourself and comfort eat, giving in to those premenstrual food cravings. So this post is about what you can do to make bloating go away – and better still, prevent it.
Why Do We Get Bloated?
Many women tend to retain more fluid in the days leading up to their period. This is because of rising oestrogen levels which make your kidneys hang on to more water and more salt. (Bloating can also be a problem during perimenopause when oestrogen levels are going up and down).
Other factors, such as stress and certain foods, can also contribute to bloating. But if your bloating comes around on a monthly cycle, the cause is hormone changes.
Constipation can also be a problem during PMS, which adds to the uncomfortable feelings around your middle.
Top 5 Anti-Bloat Tips
Here are some things you can do to manage fluid retention and the yukky feelings that go with it:
There are lots of health reasons for steering clear of table salt. Its full of toxic synthetic chemicals and bleach, is addictive, and is dangerous for blood pressure and diabetes. (Sea salt is somewhat purer – but should still be avoided). But salt also absorbs water and so makes bloating worse.
Even if you dont add salt to your cooking or to your plate, most processed foods are loaded with salt. For example, canned soups, canned vegetables, ready meals, processed meats from the deli counter And of course, savoury snacks, like crisps and salted nuts.
So the best way to meet your bodys needs for sodium is by eating fresh, whole foods - preferably including lots of raw foods. For example, celery is a great source of natural sodium.
UP THE plant-based foods
Fruits, vegetables and grains will all help provide the nutrients your body needs to reduce bloating, including potatssium (found in many fruits) and magnesium (found in many vegetables). Magnesium is great for reducing PMS symptoms all round – not just bloating.
But be warned – some vegetables can contribute to creating gas, particularly beans and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (part of the cruciferous vegetable family).
GET LOTS OF FIBRE
If youre eating lots of fruit and vegetables for their sodium and mineral content, you should have no trouble getting enough fibre. But why is it important? Well, regular bowel movements are necessary because they:
- Remove toxins
- Remove excess hormones bringing down oestrogen levels
- Smooth out blood sugar levels – bringing up your mood and energy levels
Getting enough fibre also means you won’t get constipated, which is good news because if youre not regular, toxins and hormones which should be getting eliminated from your body, get reabsorbed back into your system.
Plant-based whole foods are naturally rich in fibre and help keep your bowels moving. If you need to get more fibre into your diet, eat more oats, brown rice, pulses, fruit sand vegetables, and drink more water. Flaxseeds are another source of fibre – as well as essential fatty acids which are great for general health and for PMS.
As with every healthy change though, give your body a chance to adjust. Be careful that you don’t add too much fibre too quickly, or you’ll feel even more bloated than before!
Drink (healthy) fluids
Ditch the tea and coffee and drink water or diluted fruit juice or herbal tea. Ive already talked about how caffeine is a stimulant and depressant. But caffeine also interferes with removing toxins from your body and adds to bloating.
Like caffeine, alcohol is bad news for mood, hormone balance and bloating, so be especially carefully in the second half of your cycle.
Eat lots of water-rich foods, like raw fruits and vegetables and salads, and drink enough water (but not too much!) to keep your kidneys working well and stop your body holding onto water.
Exercise (yes, that again!)
Exercise is a key PMS remedy, a great mood booster and the best form of health insurance. But exercise also reduces bloating because it forces the body to redistribute the water in the body, which moves it from your middle to other parts of the body – where you can sweat it out. Exercise also helps gas pass through your digestive tract more quickly and improves bowel movements. So you feel better faster!