Weighing scale is the one thing I hate the most a week before my periods. Overnight bloating and the consequent weight gain drive me crazy. Thankfully, over the years better sense has prevailed and I have stopped weighing myself before periods.
Wait a minute! there is some good news – Apparently, posting the photos of your period belly is the in thing now! If you are up to the challenge, go ahead and bombard your insta feed with your period belly photos!
So, how to get rid of period bloating?
Stomach bloating during periods is one of the common pre-menstrual symptoms women go through. Before we learn the reasons and the ways to tackle it, let us go through some other common symptoms women face before periods.
What are the common pre-menstruation symptoms?
PMS is a set of symptoms which occur before a woman’s monthly menstruation cycle. These symptoms start a few days before your periods and vanish a few days after your period starts. PMS gets worse as you age due to hormonal imbalance. Most common pre-menstruation symptoms are –
- Mood swings and irritability – Even the slightest trigger can push you over the edge and your mood is constantly in a roller coaster ride.
- Lower back pain – Sharp pain which radiates from lower abdomen to lower back.
- Increased appetite and food cravings – You feel hungry all the time and reach for sugary or fatty foods. One of the reasons for period weight gain is your binge eating.
- Constipation or irritable bowel syndrome – Higher levels of estrogen hormone before your periods affects the digestive system and causes constipation.
- Depression and anxiety – Due to hormone fluctuations, your emotions get the better of you. You feel recluse and build a wall around you. Your anxiety levels will be all time high.
- Tender breasts – Your breasts feel sore a few days before periods.
- Swelling of feet and hands – Water retention in the body makes your hands and feet swell.
- Fatigue – You are constantly tired and lethargic.
- Pimple breakout – Your skin breaks out days before your period starts, it mostly goes away once your period starts.
- Crying spells – You are emotional and break down at the slightest chance. Even an emotional scene on your favorite soap can make you shed tears!
- Headache – Headaches or migraines are common before your periods.
- Lack of concentration – You may lose focus or feel confused.
What causes abdominal bloating before or during periods?
Water retention is the main reason for abdominal bloating. Fluctuations in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone may result in water retention in your body. Genetics is also one of the reasons for water retention. If your mother had severe PMS or bloating, you are most likely to develop the same.
How to reduce bloating during periods?
No matter how uncomfortable you may feel before the periods, you cannot put a break to day-to-day activities. By incorporating few changes in the diet and everyday routine, one can see significant changes. Here are the 7 easy hacks to reduce bloating during periods –
1. Limit salt intake
- Before periods, your body retains the sodium in the salt, resulting in the water retention in the body.
- Once your period starts, the excess water will be excreted from the body.
- WHO recommends less than 5 grams (less than a teaspoon) of salt intake for adults per day.
- More salt intake has other health hazards like high blood pressure which is the main reason for stoke or heart disease.
- Cook more at home, limit your dining out days. Food served in restaurants are generally high in sodium.
- Cut down the use of packaged or processed foods which contain too much sodium.
- Whenever you buy packaged food, do not forget to check the nutrition facts on the backside of the package. You will be shocked to see the amount of sodium. Compare various brands and go for the one with less sodium.
- Instead of frozen or processed foods, try to buy fresh vegetables or meat from your local grocers.
2. Stay well hydrated
- If you are dehydrated, your body holds on to extra water.
- Drinking plenty of water, flushes excess sodium out of your body.
- Consuming 2-3 liters of water a day is advised for adults.
- Staying well hydrated cleanses your body and promotes digestion.
- Reduce the consumption of coffee. It causes dehydration and your body retains more water to deal with it.
- Stay clear of carbonated drinks and alcoholic beverages. Dealing with PMS without alcohol may be difficult huh! Sacrifices we women make!!
3. Balanced diet rich in Proteins, Potassium and Magnesium
- Eating protein rich food helps you stay full for longer times, curbing your cravings.
- Include chicken, tofu, turkey, fish and almonds in your diet.
- Avoid certain foods like beans and legumes which cause bloating and gas during period.
- Research shows potassium decreases sodium levels and increases urine production in your body. Thus it reduces water retention and bloating .
- Include potassium rich foods like banana, tomato, apricot, avocado, pineapple, spinach and sweet potatoes in your diet.
- Avoid cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts which are gassy and induce bloating.
- Magnesium is one of the electrolytes, it helps to regulate the balance of fluids in your body.
- Include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate and tofu in your diet for your daily dose of magnesium.
4. Do not skip exercise
- Medium intensity exercises like walking or jogging helps you fight menstrual cramps and reduce bloating.
- Exercise helps our digestive organs function properly by flushing out excess gas and toxins.
- Regular exercise releases endorphins, one of the happy hormones. It puts you in a good mood instantly.
- Simple Yoga poses like child’s pose, bow pose and seated twist provides relief from cramps.
- High intensity exercises are generally not advised during periods.
5. Avoid refined carbohydrates
- Avoid using refined carbs like white bread, white flour pasta, chips, pastries, breakfast cereals and pizza.
- Processed sugar in the refined carbs increases the levels of glucose in your blood, resulting in more insulin in the body. Due to higher levels of insulin, kidneys retain more sodium, which leads to water retention in the body.
- Include good carbs like whole wheat or multi grain bread, brown rice, barley, quinoa and leafy greens in your diet.
- Avoid spicy foods, vinegar, hot sauce, chilies, mustard and pepper which cause acid reflux and in turn bloating.
- Go easy on fiber rich food, large quantities of fruits and vegetables may elevate your bloating symptoms.
- Try eating small meals at frequent intervals. It does not put pressure on your digestive system. You definitely do not want undigested food to ferment and cause gas and bloating.
6. Take natural diuretics
- Diuretics are natural or prescribed substances which increase the production of urine. Your kidneys thus gets rid of excess fluids.
- Some of the natural diuretics are –
- Watermelon – Did you know watermelon is made up of 92% water? It helps flush out excess fluid from the body.
- Dandelion leaves promote the production of urine while maintaining the potassium levels.
- Cucumbers have high water content and good potassium levels.
- Freshly cut pineapple is a natural diuretic, it contains a substance called bromelain which increases the body’s need to urinate.
- Lemon juice helps your body eliminate excess fluids
- Coconut water which is loaded with potassium and magnesium, increases the production of urine.
- Asparagus is a natural diuretic, it helps the body get rid of excess salt, fluids and toxins.
- Regular consumption of green or black tea makes you take more pee breaks.
- Ginger – Do not forget to grate a little ginger in your tea next time. It is a good diuretic.
- Beets are high in potassium which eliminates excess fluid from the body.
7. Get enough sleep
- Sometimes a good night’s sleep provides great relief from bloating.
- 8 hours of quality sleep prepares your body to fight fatigue and cramps.
- Lie on your side instead of back to alleviate bloating.
- Overnight sleep resets your digestive organs and allows the bloating to subside.
How long does period bloating last?
Generally bloating subsides once your period starts. If your day-to-day activities are significantly affected by PMS, It is important you consult a doctor to get evaluated.
Acceptance is the key, brace your womanhood with all the follies that come along with it!
On a lighter note, given an option (natural of course), most women would get rid of periods for once and all. If you say menopause is the natural option, remember, it comes with its own share of problems to deal with! That’s for next time!
Is it safe to consume dandelion leaves?
Yes, it is safe. Consume fresh and young dandelion leaves as the older leaves are more bitter. Prepare a green salad with dandelion leaves and your favorite vegetables. You can also sauté the leaves with a little garlic and tomatoes and consume.
Why do vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli make you gassy?
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussel sprouts are high in fructans which are difficult to digest in the small intestine. The undigested fructans ferment in the large intestine and cause bloating, gas and diarrhea in some people.
How much weight do you gain from bloating on your period?
Generally women pile on three to five pounds of weight before periods, it goes away a few days after your period starts.