Menstrual Cycle Nutrition: What to eat on and off your period

Menstrual Cycle Nutrition: What to eat on and off your period

Women go through a series of physical and hormonal changes before and during their period every month. Though putting an end to them isn’t possible, we can take measures to minimize the effects by keeping a check on what we are and aren’t eating during the time.


Drinking plenty of water is essential during and off your period. Some women experience bloating, dehydration and headaches during their periods, so being hydrated is essential during your period.


Water enriched fruits like watermelons and cucumber can also help you in staying hydrated whereas fruits like figs and plums contain vitamins that help you with bloating. Adding fruit to your diet will also reduce menstrual pain and lessen the cramps.

Green vegetables and lentils

Vegetables are vital for providing nutrients and vitamins to our bodies while lentils are rich in protein. During periods, some women experience a drop in their iron levels which leads to fatigue, pain, and dizziness.
During your period, try consuming vegetables that are rich in iron and magnesium like spinach. Lentils are also rich in iron and protein and hence good supplement for vegans and vegetarians.

Omega-3 supplements

Omega-3 has been proven to reduce the intensity of period cramps and depression. Alongside physical pain, women often go through a series of mood swings and depression, omega-3 supplements can help you with that.
Fish, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, walnuts, soybean, and plant-based milk are rich in omega-3.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants, magnesium, and iron. It has been found in studies that magnesium reduces the severity of PMS and you can use this as an excuse to grab a bar of dark chocolate from the kitchen shelves. This will curb your sugar cravings and not add unneeded calories to your body.


Warm tea like chamomile and ginger tea provides a soothing effect to relax your nerves and uterus. Ginger has anti-inflammatory effects and chamomile promotes better sleep and reduces stress and anxiety.

There is also a list of food items that you should avoid to maintain a healthy menstrual cycle.

Processed food

High or ultra-processed food like heavily processed meat and items made with chemicals and preservatives can make bloating worse. They overdose with salt and empty calories that you ought to avoid regularly and especially when you are on your period.

Added sugar

Snacks and candies with added sugar contribute to bloating and gas, also delivering a short-term spike in blood sugar. Instead of consuming candies, satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit juices or a few bites of dark chocolate.

Red meat

Red meat is high in iron and prostaglandins. Though iron is good for you during menstruation, high levels of prostaglandins can cause cramps. Your body already produces prostaglandins during periods to help your uterus contract and shed the uterus lining but you don’t want to add more to it.


Alcohol has a number of negative effects on your body which can escalate at the time of your periods as the loss of blood lowers your blood pressure. Alcohol can dehydrate you and worsen headaches, cause bloating, and upset your digestive system by causing diarrhoea and nausea. Adding to this, a hangover can elevate the symptoms that already occur during periods like vomiting, fatigue, and might boost menstrual flow.

Our bodies go through a lot of changes before, during, and after our period has ended. The complexity of the body is hard to explain but the best way to repay the efforts is to take care of it. By having a balanced diet along with exercise, we can have a healthy menstrual cycle without much aches and pains.

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Dr Archana Batra

Dietitian nutritionist, Physiotherapist and a Certified Diabetes Educator. She has 12 years of experience in nutrition and diet counselling. She believes in maintaining healthy eating. Her specialization is on weight management diets and diets related to metabolic disorders like diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, etc. Dr Archana believes in healthy eating practices to lose weight and also in prevention of lifestyle related disorders through healthy diet. Her plans are tailor based and focuses on gaining health through food and nutrition.

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