You know it’s that time of the month when your cravings for chocolate, burgers and cake kick in at full force. The reason behind these hankerings is due to the fluctuation in hormones – your estrogene, testosterone and progesterone (vital reproductive hormones) undergo a dip during your menstrual cycle.
Did you know that through these cravings, your body is actually longing for specific nutrients? According to dietitian and nutritionist, Natalie Stephens, women should consume all food groups with as much fruit and vegetables as possible during their period. These are the six vital foods to consume:
If you love salmon, tuna and sardines, now is the best time to indulge in them as they have a heaping source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is heart-healthy and relieves menstrual pain. Studies have shown that a daily dose of six grams of fish is enough to lessen cramps. Besides fatty fish, other sources of omega-3 can be found in avocados, nuts and olive oil. Go ahead, indulge in some sashimi and trail mixes!
1. Sardine Sandwich
Quick, easy and satiating, this classic sandwich packs a healthy dose of protein from sardines, fibre from leafy greens, sprouts, cucumber and tomato, and slow-releasing carbs from the whole grain bread. Get the recipe here.
2. Warm Salmon Niçoise Salad
Get a taste of the South of France with this refreshing and balanced salad, made even better (and tastier) by swapping the original tuna with pan-seared salmon. Get the recipe here.
3. BBQ Salmon Burger
Beat your carnivourous cravings with this lip-smacking, guilt-free burger of a fat, juicy salmon patty, wedged between a wholewheat bun. Get the recipe here.
Broccoli and spinach
Stock up on these greens, which are high in fibre, protein and iron. Broccoli boasts an especially high amount of fibre, calcium, vitamin A, C, B6 and E, potassium and magnesium that will ease PMS. It is also 91% water, which eliminates bloating and water retention. Spinach is known for its high iron content – best replacement for blood loss!
4. Broccoli, Feta and Pasta Salad
A delicious way to get your fibre and grains. The addition of protein-rich feta cheese gives the dish a tangy flavour, and also supplies you with key vitamins and minerals. Get the recipe here.
5. Asian Beef and Broccoli
Find balance between greens and meat with this Asian favourite. Use lean beef for optimum protein, and enjoy with a bowl of multi-grain rice. Get the recipe here.
6. Green Apple and Spinach Smoothie
Perfect for a quick breakfast or snack, this smoothie is an excellent guilt-free treat too! A healthy balance of fruit and vegetable, as well as heart-healthy fat from coconut milk. Get the recipe here.
When temptation for a Mars bar kicks in, reach for a banana instead to reap more benefits. Rich in potassium and magnesium, bananas are great for recovery from PMS, and also contain melatonin that relaxes your body as well as boosts your mood. It’s the best food to eat for a good night’s sleep too.
7. Vegan No-Bake Brownies
At just 59 calories a bite, these brownies are a skinnier, tastier and healthier version of the conventional ones. ‘Brownie points’ go to the wholefood ingredients of bananas, oats, cashews, dates and walnuts. Get the recipe here.
8. 5-Recipe Vegan Banana French Toast
For the vegans out there: soak bread in a batter of mashed banana, almond milk and flaxseed ‘egg’, for a good dose of potassium, fibre and omega-3. Get the recipe here.
9. Cacao and Popped Amaranth Porridge
The addition of mashed banana to this warm bowl of amaranth and cacao porridge is great as a thickener and natural sweetener. Get the recipe here.
There’s no better time to consume quinoa than when you’re on your period. The superfood darling is a protein bullet of nine essential amino acids, with two times the fiber as other grains, and complex carbs to regulate mood swings. Bonus: quinoa is also high in iron and vitamin B12 to stimulate energy levels. Need we remind you that it is the perfect ingredient for low-carb diets?
10. Vietnamese Shrimp and Quinoa Salad
Besides an excellent source of protein, shrimps also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Paired with quinoa, and you’ve got a bowl of healing/beauty goodness! Get the recipe here.
11. Asian Quinoa Wraps
A satiating, meat-free meal filled with colour from the carrot, spinach, avocado and red quinoa that doesn’t skimp on vital nutrition. Get the recipe here.
12. Maple Pecan Quinoa Porridge
Reinvent your regular oatmeal bwith cooked quinoa. Stir with maple syrup and top with a handful of pecans, and you’ll get a protein-fuelled breakfast! Get the recipe here.
As part of a balanced diet, dairy consumption is encouraged, and for good reason. Dairy in the form of skim milk and Greek yogurt contains calcium and vitamin D that not only strengthens the immune system, but also acts as a muscle relaxant (so long, cramps!). Alternatively, if you’re lactose intolerant or vegan, vitamin D and calcium can be found in leafy greens, almonds, mushrooms and sesame seeds, to name a few.
13. Chia Seed Pudding
Feed your craving for dessert with a chia seed pudding, a low-calorie superfood loaded with nutrients, antioxidants and weight loss benefits. Soak seeds in milk or yogurt for a tasty, gooey treat. Get the recipe here.
14. Fruity Greek Yogurt Parfait
Replace the ice cream with protein and calcium-rich Greek yogurt. DIY a healthy parfait with fibre-rich muesli and antioxidant-wielding berries. Get the recipe here.
15. Spiced Oatmeal Smoothie
Breakfast on the go is more satisfying with this serving of oatmeal blitzed with milk and healing spices. Get the recipe here.
Yes, you can have your chocolate, but make sure it’s dark chocolate! Having a couple squares of chocolate with at least 60% cacao during your period will help soothe cravings. Additionally, dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and feel-good serotonin, so you’ll feel less of a grouch.
16. Vegan Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Wholesome, delicious and no more than 90 calories a cookie. Make your cookie jar guilt-free with these nuggets made from spelt flour, oats, pumpkin puree and dark chocolate chips. Get the recipe here.
17. Healthy Mounds Candy Bars
Chewy, gluten free and naturally sweet, these secretly lean bars are made from dark chocolate, shredded coconut, coconut oil and agave nectar. Get the recipe here.
18. One-Minute Chcocolate Mug Cake
Pacify your cravings by making this irresistible and healthy mug cake using cocoa powder, spelt flour, cane juice, coconut oil, milk and vanilla extract. Get the recipe here.