Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit.  You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience.  A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms.  Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:

Diet

When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner.  Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?

It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms.  Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month.  Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice.  Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach.  If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic).  It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated?  Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more).   Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.

Light Exercise

While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial.  Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed.  Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:

Essential Oils

Aromatherapy  has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor).  Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood.  I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.

Cannabis

Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant.  For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood.   In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD).  CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis.  It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.

Remember to Breathe

This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods.  So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath.  Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.  If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above.  Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!

 

Have comments, questions or suggestions?  Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.

Thanks for reading!

How to Win the Never-Ending Battle Against Late Night Snacking

Fighting off late night munchies can be a true battle. No matter how big of a dinner you eat, sometimes it’s too difficult to say “no” to snacking before bed.  If you are trying to sleep better or lose weight, avoid eating at least two hours before bedtime. Otherwise the food you eat will store as fat, rather than being processed or burned off (source: Dr. Hyman). If you struggle with late night eating, try these tips to curb bedtime snacking.

1- Eat breakfast. Having breakfast sets the tone for the rest of the day, but not just any breakfast. Having a high protein breakfast will keep you satiated longer and energize you throughout the day. If you eat late, you might not be hungry enough in the morning to get the right breakfast you need to power through your day, so it’s important to break this cycle.

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2% Greek yogurt with fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and bee pollen = lots of protein!

Some of my go-to, protein-packed breakfasts might include chia seed pudding, eggs (with the yolk!), a smoothie with proteins such as almond or peanut butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greek yogurt, or protein powder. I also like to add green vegetables to my breakfasts whenever possible. A meal like any of these really gives you the brain power you need, but also keeps your blood sugar levels steady throughout the morning. When my blood sugar levels take a dip, this is when I find myself so starved I’ll reach for anything in sight, no matter how bad it is for me. Eating some protein and healthy fats with every meal really makes a difference in your overall energy and health, versus eating no breakfast or something lacking in nutrition, like cereal or a bagel.

2- Drink water. When we are dehydrated, sometimes our minds will interpret that as hunger. Try drinking water when you feel a late night craving come on before you head to the kitchen for some snacks. I like to infuse my water with cucumber, lemon, fresh herbs, or berries. I find that I can drink much more water when I’ve infused it, especially with my favorite, cucumber.

3-Eat mindfully. Eating too quickly doesn’t give the body enough time to realize it’s full. Practice chewing your food and remember to breathe while eating. The more you chew your food, the more the food is broken down, which means it digests more easily in the stomach. This is a pro tip for weight loss!

4- Turn off the tv and go to bed! It’s really easy to eat mindlessly when eating while watching tv. On occasion, if it’s getting late and I find myself getting hungry again after dinner, I will actually just send myself to bed. If I continue to stay up, then of course I’m going to get a snack to fuel me. Try having that glass of water instead or some warm almond milk or tea, then hit the hay.

5- Identify areas of your life that may be out of balance. Snacking is often triggered by emotions. Think, for example, about the image of a girl (or guy) shoveling ice cream in her mouth after a bad breakup as an example. Whatever the trigger may be, even if it’s just craving dessert after dinner out of habit, try to identify what could be causing you to have unhealthy cravings. This may not even apply to food; it could be some sort of substance abuse too. Think about the quality of all your relationships, career, spiritual practice, finances, home environment, or exercise routine. How satisfied are you in each of these areas of your life? If any aspect of your life is missing or unsatisfactory, it’s possible that this could be causing you stress, which can then lead to late night binge eating or unhealthy habits. Once you’ve identified what’s stressing you out, take measures to make improvements and reduce any stress.

Here is an exercise for you to try to find balance that I use with my clients throughout their program. This is called the Circle of Life (source: Institute for Integrative Nutrition). On the circle there are a number of important categories listed, each one representing a major aspect of life that contributes to overall mental and physical health. Being satisfied in each of these categories is extremely important for living a well-balanced life.

Here’s what to do. Place a dot in each category of the circle. The closer your dot is to the outside of the circle, the more content you are with that area of your life. And the closer your dot is to the inside of the circle represents less satisfaction with that category. When you are done connect all the dots and see what areas of your life need nourishment. If your dots create a perfect circle when connected, then you should be living pretty much stress-free.

circle of life color

6- Identify your food sensitivities. We are typically allergic or sensitive to the foods we crave the most. For many people this is gluten or dairy. Experiment with an elimination diet, or just try removing these two food groups and/or sugar for a few weeks and see if you feel any improvements. After a few weeks of eliminating certain food groups, gradually add back one food group at a time for a few days to see if any symptoms (maybe even some you weren’t aware of before) return. Other foods that tend to cause sensitivities or allergies are corn, soy, alcohol, sugar, red meat, processed foods, or nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, etc).

If you have experimented with these tips and are still finding yourself reaching for the cookies before bed, then replace those temptations with healthier options. I can recommend peanut butter with green apple, chocolate chia seed pudding, roasted salty chickpeas, or black bean brownies.

Please leave other suggestions in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. If you’re interested in talking about how a health coach can help you eat better and improve your overall health, sign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me!

Five Tips for Winter Weight Loss

By now you are two weeks deep into your New Years Resolution. At this point you are either killin’ it with your goals, forgotten all about them, or are somewhere in between. Of course, if your goal has to do with weight loss, January is not the most ideal time to start this mission. Not only are humans programmed to eat differently in the winter and to store fat for survival, our Vitamin D and Serotonin levels drop, which are both partially responsible for regulating appetite control (source: The Week). While storing fat for survival isn’t really necessary for the modern person, it’s still coded in us, and can make weight loss at this time more difficult. Not to mention while our ancestors were out fighting the brutal cold, we are inside sitting at our computer moving less. If your resolution (or whatever you’re calling it) has to do with weight loss, then try some of these tips:

Add in more vegetables, whole grains, and protein to naturally crowd out unhealthier056dc8b9-0d45-4361-9623-ac8de532a497 foods. The more you can fill up on healthy, whole foods, the less room you’ll have in your stomach for junk. Everyone is different, so while you may thrive on a high-carb diet, others might do best on a high-protein diet. Experiment for yourself and find what works best for YOUR body. Whatever you find, stick to warm, grounding foods in the winter and try as much as possible to eliminate processed foods, soda, and sugar from your diet to see weight loss results.

Eat more sweet vegetables. If you’re at all like me and get crazy sugar cravings, then try incorporating some sweet vegetables into your diet like carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, or beets. I’ve found this helps satisfy the craving, and if it doesn’t, then sneak in a little bit of quality dark chocolate earlier in the day. Because our will power is strongest in the morning, I like to add some cacao nibs to my breakfast smoothie to get that craving out of my system.

infused waterDrink more water. Sometimes when you feel food cravings come on even though you just ate a meal and shouldn’t really be hungry, this can be a sign of dehydration. Try having a tall glass of water before reaching for the snacks, and if you want extra weight loss points, then fancy up you water by infusing it with a lemon slice or some cucumber slices. Lemon water has great benefits for weight loss by helping with digestion and detoxifying the body, but the benefits are greatest when the water is served warm.

Eat more mindfully. How many meals have you consumed in your life without even having a chance to really enjoy or process the meal?  Maybe it’s because you didn’t eat all day and by the time you eat you’re starving, or maybe it’s because your busy schedule doesn’t allow you time to sit down and even smell your coffee, but eating more mindfully means sitting down, chewing your food, breathing as you eat, and really appreciating the meal. It’s not unusual in our fast-paced society to just scarf down a meal (sometimes even on the go!), so just make a bigger effort to give yourself enough time to eat. The slower you eat the greater chance your brain has to catch up and realize when it’s full. This is often the cause for overeating when you eat so fast that your mind doesn’t catch the moment it should be signaling you to stop eating. If you want a book full of tips on how to eat more mindfully, check out this book by Thich Nhat Hanh.

Switch up your workout. I’ve found that switching up my work out has incredible results for weight loss. Changing things up gives your body a challenge and helps you work the various muscles, versus doing the same routine and plateauing with your weight loss. Although I’ve learned by now that abs are truly made in the kitchen, exercise is still important for weight loss, plus mental and physical strength.Sweat Ladies, I cannot stress this enough, DO NOT BE AFRAID TO LIFT WEIGHTS! Weight lifting gets you toned and builds strength without bulking up, not to mention it’s important for bone health. Mix this into your workout at least a couple times a week if possible, and try out some other fun exercises like walking, dancing, barre classes, pilates, swimming, etc. If you don’t really know where to begin with your exercise regime, I like to tell my clients to think back to what activities they loved doing as kids. Quite often the same activities we loved as kids still are fun for us now, especially if you can find a workout buddy to do them with. I’d also like to note that you should listen to your body. If you’re feeling burnt out, or if you just did an intense workout the day before, do not be afraid to do a restorative yoga class or go for an easy walk, something that still gets you moving without overdoing it.

 

If you found this post inspiring, or if you have tips of your own, please share in the comment section! Just remember to keep a positive attitude with your weight loss goals, because weight loss doesn’t just happen over night.
Learn to fall in love with the process and the results will come!