Cramping Menstrual Cramps - The Diet Way by Sarah Scrafford

It’s something no man would understand, simply because they never have and never will experience it. For some women, those three or five days of the month are purgatory, almost as bad as the pains of childbirth. Others face mild to heavy discomfort, neither of which is a walk in the park. Medication and painkillers are effective in bringing down the pain, but they do bring with them side effects too. A slight change in what you eat may hold the key to relieving discomfort for most women. So here’s a list (not exhaustive) of what to and what not to put on your plate in the days leading to and during those three days.

Say yes to:

  • Lots and lots of water and fruit juices free of sugar 
  • Fresh, green, leafy vegetables 
  • Light meals that do not fill your stomach 
  • Frequent meals of small portions 
  • Herbal teas with chamomile, red raspberry, blessed thistle, valerian, yarrow and raspberry leaf. 
  • Fish and other food rich in Omega3 fatty acids 
  • Mild exercise in any form 
  • Plenty of rest with a hot water bottle if the pain is intense

Say no to:

  • Foods that cause flatulence and gas formation like beans, fried stuff, dairy products, cauliflowers, peas, potatoes and cabbages 
  • Red meat 
  • Saturated fats found in baked goods like white bread, cookies, biscuits and cakes 
  • Foods high in processed sodium (salted snacks and junk food) that cause water retention 
  • Alcohol and cigarettes 
  • Stress in any form

One woman’s meat may be another’s poison, so there are no hard and fast rules to follow to minimize the pain during menstrual cramps. We are all women, but have different physiologies, different hormone levels and different ways of coping with menstrual cramps. Try the above suggestions, figure out what works for you and stick to it.

The change in your diet may not work wonders immediately, but that’s no reason to throw it away. Eating healthy and maintaining a low-fat high-protein diet will improve not just your menstrual health but your overall well-being in the long run.

If the pain is continuous and intense, consult your OB/GYN before you start any medication.

Sarah Scrafford is an industry critic, as well as a regular contributor on the subject of RN. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: