Okay ladies, if that time of the month has you down (or men, if you’re reading this hoping to help special someone and yourself survive the monthly friend), then listen up because what women eat during their monthly cycle can have huge benefits on how they feel and how their bodies heal and replenish themselves.

Focus Factors for PMS

Water, along with key nutrients such as iron, magnesium, B vitamins, and even calcium are all lost during a woman’s cycle. It’s important to focus on getting in high-quality vitamins and minerals whenever possible and amplify your diet with water-rich foods which will help prevent dehydration and elimination of key electrolytes and water soluble vitamins (B and C) that can assist with energy and reducing inflammation. Getting enough water and consuming foods with those nutrients will also help combat bloating as a side bonus. Since digestion is another area that becomes a little scurvy due to hormone fluctuations, it’s also important to eat foods that are gentle on your system to reduce the chances of unnecessary pains and digestive woes.

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That being said, here are seven key foods to focus on during your monthly cycle:

1. Sweet Potatoes

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

Ladies, sweet potatoes are an all-star food for your belly, your hormones, and your skin to beat all (which is great during a time breakouts persist). Sweet potatoes pack in soluble fiber which eliminates bloating but assists in regularity and their complex carbs lower sugar cravings yet provide sustenance and energy during a time you need it. These carbs are also easier to digest than many grains and will provide adequate serotonin to the body which impacts your mood and sense of well-being. When the carb cravings hit, skip the chips and candy bars. Instead, make baked potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, sweet potato soup, and even turn them into dessert by pureeing cooled sweet potatoes with some cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, non-alcoholic vanilla extract, stevia or a date, and some non-dairy milk as a smoothie. If pain has you down, the Vitamin A and C in sweet potatoes will also help reduce inflammation and pain and will improve the look of your skin to fight breakouts.

2. Leafy Greens

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

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Though greens are probably the last thing that you think you want, trust us when we say that they’re exactly what you need and your body will thank you for. Leafy greens are one of the most balancing, grounding and nourishing foods you can eat. They also provide key nutrients such as B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, and Vitamin C, which the body loses during times of stress. Leafy greens are also a good source of iron which is lost during this difficult time and are a much more alkaline source of nutrients than animal products with iron. This will assist in reducing inflammation and pain, along with improving the look of your skin. Greens are also easy to digest and provide key fiber and chlorophyll needed for regularity and flushing out the system. Enjoy greens in a smoothie, a salad, a soup, or used in other creative ways.

3. Oatmeal or Rice

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

Hey, sometimes, the simple (and cheap) things are what work best. Non-refined whole grains are some of the most nourishing foods, though some do find them hard to digest. If you have a testy tummy, stick to choices that generally digest pretty easily, which include oats (choose gluten-free to avoid contamination) or whole grain rice (brown, black or wild will all do). If you enjoy quinoa or millet, fantastic. If not, a simple bowl of oats and rice will both provide adequate carbs to replenish lost glycogen to the body. This assists with energy and preventing a moody demeanor.

Oats and rice are also packed with magnesium, which improves nervous system function needs during a time of mental or physical stress. This one mineral can help you sleep, provide energy, lower anxiety, assist in regularity and prevent aches and moodiness. Last up, oatmeal and rice are full of easy to digest fiber, which will assist in eliminating excess estrogen in the body to help even out your mood even further. Try a wild or black rice porridge for breakfast or even a bowl of oats for dinner, which you can enjoy sweet or savory.

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4. Raw Pumpkin Seeds

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

Some women find nuts harder to digest than seeds, so though almonds, walnuts, and even pecans all come with major anti-inflammatory benefits (along with vital fats and other nutrients), seeds can provide just as much (if not more) nutrition during a time your belly isn’t at its best. Pumpkin seeds are a magnificent food for bloating, moodiness, poor digestion, headaches and low energy. They’re one of the few seeds to contain high amounts of omega 3 fatty acids, are alkaline (noted by their green color) and also provide more iron than any nut.

Pumpkin seeds are also a terrific source of the amino acid trytophan, along with protein, magnesium and Vitamin B6. These all help restore energy, reduce inflammation and stress, and can help regulate your mood and neurotransmitter function. Pumpkin seeds even help assist in regularity, but should be eaten raw and unsalted as the healthiest option to avoid bloat and inflammation. Make some raw energy bites with pumpkin seeds, sprinkle them on some oatmeal, or use them in smoothies and dinners however you choose. A couple tablespoons a day will do the trick!

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5. Dried Figs

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

Normally, dried fruit isn’t something you want to eat care-free, even during a time when your body needs high-quality carbs. Dried fruits are high in sugar, but as with all whole foods, exceptions do apply. Dried figs are the exception here ladies. They’re packed with potassium to beat bloat and are one of the few to cause digestive upset. They are also some of the most overlooked sources of nutrients for women and are lower in sugar, calories, and carbs than dates, while providing more calcium, iron, and fiber.

Figs are also alkaline-forming and help eradicate harmful estrogens from the body. Black Mission figs are particularly sweeter and higher in antioxidants than Turkish  or Calimyrna varieties which is indicated by their darker color. Dried figs are a phenomenal food to assist with regularity and contain almost 10 grams less sugar per serving than dates and are a better source of calcium (even containing more than milk). This will help combat frayed nerves and provide adequate nutrition for your bones, nails, hair, and skin. Dried figs also satisfy your sweet tooth with just a couple pieces. You can also use them in place of dates in any energy bar or bite recipe, along with raw food recipe where dates are called for. They’re also tasty when cooked with oatmeal or chopped on top after preparation.

6. Vegetable Broth

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

While not exactly a single food, vegetable broth is incredibly healing to the body. It provides key minerals and antioxidants, and it’s very warming to benefit digestion. To avoid bloat, choose a vegetable broth without added sodium or MSG (check labels). You’ll can also make your own at home which is effortless with a slow-cooker or a large stock pot. If you purchase one from the store, choose one that’s organic and non-GMO in a tetra-pack to avoid contaminants. Vegetable broth is also detoxifying which can help cleanse the system and assist with reducing pain and inflammation. If you can’t bear to eat, it’s also a helpful way to get in some nutrients. Drink some as a warm tea and add some turmeric and rubbed sage for more anti-inflammatory and calming benefits.

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7. Cacao or Cocoa

7 Foods That Make PMS More Bearable

Finally! Yes, you have a free right to eat chocolate! But hold up there, put that milk chocolate bar down girls! Dairy-filled chocolate is not a good option. It’s one reason chocolate may break you out, not because actual cacao contains acne-promoting properties. Dairy is highly inflammatory, promotes unhealthy hormone levels, and chocolates with dairy often contain excess sugar that you do not need this time of the month when balance is a priority. Instead, go with some raw organic cacao powder, which is lower in fat, higher in antioxidants and fiber, and helpful at combating cravings. Cacao has also even been shown to be a natural mood elevator, but it’s important to choose organic, non-GMO and raw varieties to avoid contaminants that can occur during cacao’s fermentation process.

Organic plain cocoa is a second best choice, though not as high in quality antioxidants and fiber (though both cacao and cocoa are excellent sources of iron). Cacao powder is an affordable superfood and a terrific source of beauty-promoting and mood-lifting nutrients including magnesium, sulfur, potassium, iron, Vitamin C, zinc, copper, and even some B vitamins. Stir a teaspoon in coffee or a smoothie, use it in raw energy bites or bars, add it to oatmeal if you really get desperate, or make healthy dessert with frozen bananas and cacao or cocoa powder. We have 20 are more ways to use cacao if you need additional ideas.

So there you have it ladies (and gents!). These seven choices will provide key nutrients you need so experiment with all of them to see which ones benefit you best, but be sure you eat a variety of whole foods for overall nutrition. Other tips to help include gentle movement like walking and yoga over high-impact exercises, and not skipping out on sleep. It’s also smart to avoid alcohol and salty, inflammatory (sugary and processed) foods.

Good luck and happy (healthy) eating!

Lead Image Source: Raw Double Chocolate Mint Bars