Monthly cramps are a natural part of being a woman, and there is no reason why this monthly cycle should affect your life or your workout routine. To help get the best from your body, you need to look after it during your period, and one of the best ways to do that is to eat well and provide your body with the nutrients it needs.

There are also foods which are known to make cramps worse, and so here are the three top foods to avoid if you do get monthly cramps:

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#1. Chocolate

We all crave sweet things around that time of the month, but chocolate is a bad option for girls who get stomach cramps. Chocolate contains the three ingredients known to cause problems:

  • Sugar; an inflammatory which increases cramping.
  • Dairy; full of omega-6 fatty acids which are also an inflammatory that increases cramping.
  • Caffeine; this is a vasoconstrictor. Caffeine constricts your blood vessels. This causes tension around your uterus, which makes cramps feel more intense.

Switch to: Fruit and Nuts

Rather than chocolate and lollies try snacking on fruit and nuts. Flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds are a wise choice as they are full of Omega-3 fatty acids which help prevent stomach cramps.

Making sure you are well hydrated, by sipping water throughout the day, is the best way to keep snack cravings at bay.

If you still feel the need for a chocolate hit, limit yourself to small bites of dark chocolate. The magnesium in dark chocolate relaxes the nervous system and helps stop sugar cravings.

#2. Meats

Fatty meats are high in saturated fats which can aggravate the stomach and worsen cramps. Eating processed meats causes bloating and a build-up of uncomfortable gas. Red meat is difficult to digest. It is best to avoid ‘meaty meals’ if your stomach is feeling sensitive. Try to have leaner meats or fish which is full of vitamin E and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Switch to: Chickpeas and Kidney Beans

If you want to avoid meat altogether, it’s still important your body gets enough iron. The average woman requires 18 milligrams of iron per day. Both chickpeas and kidney beans are an excellent source of iron. It’s also important that you get enough fibre during this time, and both of these contain high amounts, helping keep your diet as balanced as possible.

#3. Salt

Too much salt will always make you feel puffy and bloated as the sodium causes fluid retention. Especially, avoid unhealthy or ‘fast foods’ as these contain the highest sodium content.

Switch to: Herbs and Spices

Instead of using salt to flavour your food, experiment with herbs and spices. Not only will you notice your stomach cramps lessening, but you’ll also notice how much tastier your meals are.

You should make this a habit for life, and not just for a week a month.

Don’t forget. You need to think about everything you ingest, not just food. Avoiding alcohol is an easy way to ease stomach cramps, and switching your morning coffee for an energy-boosting smoothie with no added caffeine will also help.

Do you have more foods to add to our list?

Let us know your tips in the comments below.