Nutrition and Exercise Guidelines for PMS
- Eat six small meals a day - 3 meals plus 3 small snacks. Eat the normal amount of food you usually eat spread out over the day. Do not go for long periods of time without eating.
- Eliminate or reduce caffeine. Coffee, tea, colas, chocolate all contain varying amounts of caffeing. If you are a heavy consumer of caffeine, it is best to wean yourself gradually. If you are a coffee drinker, try mixing half regular grind and half decaffeinated when making coffee. It is a relatively easy way to cut your caffeine consumption in half. Caffeine can make breast symptoms worse, for example, swelling and tenderness. many women find that irritability and headaches decrease when they cut their caffeine intake.
- Reduce salt. do not add salt to food and avoid the following foods: processed foods, fast foods, potato chips and other salty snacks, lunch meat, bacon, ham, sausage, canned ham, canned soup, instant hot cereals, condiments (catsup, mustard, etc.). Excess salt intake may worsen water retention symptoms including bloating, swelling of hands and feet.
- Reduce alcohol. many women find that alcohol affects them more and in more negative ways during the premenstrual period.
- Snack Suggestions: Plain yogurt, unsalted nuts, unsalted sunflower seeds, unsalted popcorn, whole wheat bread with peanut butter, pumpkin, zucchini or banana bread, graham crackers, unsalted whole grain crackers, bran or oatmeal muffin, raw vegetables, apple slices, celery with peanut butter, apple sauce, raisins, dates, dried apricots or prunes, grapes, banana, grapefruit or orange slices.
If you have not been exercising, be sure to start slowly. Walking is an excellent exercise. We suggest starting at two miles in 30 to 40 minutes. If you are already exercising, keep it up. As you probably know, there are many health benefits of a regular exercise program and also evidence that it can be very helpful in reducing PMS symptoms. Try to find an activity that you enjoy so that you will be more likely to keep it up. The overall goal should be 3 to 5 times per week for 25 to 30 minutes.
Peer Review Status: Internally
Peer Review Date: 2004