There’s this friend of mine. Let’s call her Claire.
And for at least one week every single month, she feels like complete and utter crap.
She drags herself out of bed, frowns at the way her sugary breakfast cereal tumbles out of the packet, screams at the kids about the slightest misbehaviour, descends into furious road rage, and trolley rage and just about any other rage that’s out there.
Woe betide her husband if he even dares to look at her in the wrong way…
And then she crumples into a messy heap of tears, and regret and heartache once the day is done.
She knows very well that this isn’t the real Claire. Not really.
She remembers how she used to be a little ray or sunshine for her family, how she used to be up for just about anything. She used to be fun, and playful and light-hearted. She used to be happy.
But give it a couple of days, or even a week, and she’ll be feeling much better. Her energy levels will have improved. She’ll count her lucky stars, she’ll covers her kids with kisses at every opportunity and she’ll even packs little love letters into her husband’s lunch.
Claire’s experience is something you’re likely very familiar with yourself. Heck- even I still struggle from time to time under the oppressive grip of PMT.
But there’s an answer for all of us that could help us to overcome these monthly lows, boost our energy levels, give you back glowing skin and healthy hair, no matter where you are in your cycle.
This answer is simple. Quit or reduce your sugar intake.
Is sugar your premenstrual friend?
Imagine this short scenario for a moment. You have a partner who appears to be Mr (or Mrs) Wonderful.
This person is so loving, kind and attentive and after hanging out together you feel like you’re on cloud nine. It’s as if you’ve got a brand new lease of life: the energy is pumping through your veins, you feel absolutely amazing and you find yourself counting down the days until you can see this very special person again. It’s the whole fairy tale, and then some.
But all the while, this person is secretly causing chaos within your social circle, they’re becoming increasingly jealous and controlling and you feel completely bereft when they’re not around.
It’s much the same when you consume sugar.
You may feel pretty good immediately afterwards (thanks to the duel release of serotonin and dopamine) and feel as if it’s really hit the spot. But before long, all of that refined sweetness is charging right through your body, creative havoc in your endocrine system, disrupting your delicate hormonal balance, triggering a whole host of nasty symptoms and whipping up a veritable storm.
And not only this- your blood sugar levels destabilise and so your pancreas releases yet more insulin in an attempt to cope with the sudden influx. This sudden scramble to cope causes your blood sugar levels to crash and you so you’re left feeling exhausted, irritable and even manic, craving yet more sugar to pull you back on the rollercoaster again.
But the ride still isn’t over yet.
In an attempt to normalise your blood sugar levels once more, your body releases two hormones known as adrenaline and cortisol. In itself, this triggers a fight-or-flight reaction in your body and can cause stress, anxiety, PMT and even depression to take hold.
But I crave sugar when I have PMT!!!
We’ve been fooled into believing that those powerful sugar and fat cravings many of us experience in the days before our period are a normal part of the menstruation experience, but this is in fact false.
These unhealthy cravings are the result of an imbalance in the levels of serotonin (the happy chemical) and cortisol (a stress hormone) which are more likely to occur at ‘that time of the month’ and are aggravated by stress, poor eating habits and a lack of exercise.
With the right approach you can absolutely STOP PMT in its tracks and reclaim your sunnier moods, and get your life back on track.
How to overcome PMT
Thankfully there are a bunch of lifestyle tips you can implement right now that will help you feel so much better throughout the month, not just when PMS threatens. You’ll feel happier, you’ll have greater energy, your skin will improve and you might finally feel motivated to get started with your grand idea. So here are my top tips for making it happen.
It goes without saying that you need to knock your sugar habit on the head, even if you’re desperately craving your favourite box of Maltesers. Instead, substitute with a handful of hormone-healthy raw nuts or seeds, a piece of succulent juicy fruit (berries are excellent) or even a slice of wholegrain toast with nut butter.
Enjoy Complex Carbs
For one of the most effective health boosts for your PMT prone body, increase the amount of complex, multigrain carbs you’re eating. Carbs are essential for serotonin production plus they add a nice dose of minerals to your diet, safeguarding your health and helping you feel good.
Fill Up On Green Leafy Veggies
Green leafy veggies are the bomb! They’re by far the best plant-source of a massive amount of minerals, healthy protein and even Omega 3 fatty acids to boot. Go for kale, spinach, chard, beetroot greens, purple sprouting, white spouting, watercress, lettuce and many more.
Indulge In Healthy Fats
Forget your years of fat-phobia; they don’t make you fat, nor damage your heart (unless you’re talking about the ‘bad’ ones). So up your intake of healthy fats to ensure optimal hormone production. They include avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and even eggs.
Get Out Into The Sunshine
For those of us who live in northern climes, you’ll be well acquainted with the effect that dark and dreary skies can have on your mood. That’s because your body primarily uses sunlight to produce serotonin. Get out there as much as possible and even consider investing in a light box.
Limit Caffeine (& Drink More Water)
Forget wine or Baileys or Mojitos, my very favourite drink in the world has to be coffee with hemp milk. Yum yum! But I know that if I drink more than a cup or two per day I’ll be asking for trouble with my hormones.
You see, caffeine increases production of stress-causing, PMT increasing cortisol so it’s best avoided as much as possible. Consider trying a tasty cup of herbal or fruit tea (liquorice is very yummy!) instead.
And lastly, start making relaxation and sleep a priority, especially when you’re due on. Most of us live such hectic lives these days, and even if we don’t realise it, our stress hormones and general health can really take a knock.
So try and get more down-time, get an early night at least once per week and indulge in some more self-TLC and relaxation as often as you can. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
PMT isn’t a life-sentence that you’ve been dealt by the hand of fate, and you most certainly don’t need to put up with these nasty symptoms, sugar cravings and horrible overwhelming moods.
Simply cut sugar from your diet and implement a few extra healthy lifestyle tips, and you could reduce or even completely eliminate all of these health issues and become the cool, calm and collected girlie that you are deep down.