Which Foods Help with PMS?

Can I make any changes to my diet (either full time or just at certain times of the month) that could be helpful in reducing or eliminating PMS symptoms?


A: Hormonal changes contribute much to the mood and food preference changes many women experience. While cutting back on salt is a health-promoter all the time, it can be particularly helpful to relieve symptoms of bloating and swelling that commonly occur.


Eliminate the salt shaker, and skip the canned and dried soups and deli meats, along with most processed convenience foods. Watch out for condiments, which are often loaded with salt. While there is a connection between certain nutrients and brain chemistry, this does not yet translate to specific foods that can reliably moderate mood changes.


The best diet for brain health is one with abundant fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and some heart healthy fat. Regular mealtimes and planned snacks help to offset some of the extra hunger signals that can occur during PMS. The notorious food cravings that some women experience can be addressed with calorie-controlled single portions of the desired food. Whether it's dark chocolate, a salty or crunchy snack, or a smooth and creamy food, satisfying the urge with a small serving in a controlled manner is the most effective way to manage food cravings. Plus, regular moderate exercise--like a brisk walk--often helps symptoms like irritability, lack of energy, and excess hunger. Several small lifestyle changes often relieve symptoms. For some women, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough; seek your doctor's advice if your symptoms interfere significantly with your daily routine.