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Lacey Dunn, MS, RD, LD, CPT specializes in all things hormones, thyroid, gut, and metabolism and incorporates on-going education into her daily life. Her new book, The Women’s Guide to Hormonal Harmony: How to Rebalance Your Hormones, Master Your Metabolism, and Become the Boss of Your Own Body is a useful guide for anyone looking to better understand their hormonal health. 

If you find yourself with an abundance of physical and emotional distress the week before your period, you’re not alone. Around 75% of women experience at least one symptom of PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Anxiety, sadness, heightened depression, irritability, enhanced cravings, and even anger are common emotional symptoms that women feel prior to “shark week”.

However, just because PMS is common does not mean that’s normal. It’s time for women to reject the notion that PMS is just the curse of womanhood! Terrible PMS, including large fluctuations in your mood, is a sign that something in your body needs to be addressed. It’s a fire alarm going off in your body, indicating that something in your life needs a little TLC.

During your menstrual cycle, there are natural fluctuations of estrogen and progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone fall after ovulation and before the start of a period. Premenstrual Syndrome (aka PMS) occurs when the body is not able to adapt to these fluctuations or if there is a hormonal imbalance. With a root-cause approach to reducing PMS, you must ask why this is happening.

7 Ways To Master Your PMS Emotions with Nutrition

There are ways that you can conquer your PMS emotions simply by addressing what you eat! Yes, you don’t need a pill to help yourself stabilize your mood around your period. The top ways to be the boss of your emotions around your period by controlling your diet include:

Get your fiber in! This will help naturally detoxify estrogen (lessening the risk of estrogen dominance which will heighten your PMS emotions), aid in natural liver detoxification, and help to support a healthy gut microbiome. You need a healthy microbiome for optimal metabolism, mood, and immune function. There really isn’t anything your gut can’t impact. In fact, 90% of your serotonin, your calming neurotransmitter, is made in your gut! Feeding your body with fiber will help to feed your happy hormones.

Great sources of fiber include: whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and various vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, and leafy greens.

Avoid inflammatory foods like vegetable oils, added sugars, alcohol, and processed foods. These foods can cause inflammation in your body that contributes to mood disturbances, as well as pains, aches, and cramps! High amounts of alcohol also can cause you to have a strained liver, which causes impairment in natural liver detoxification and increases your risk of estrogen dominance and nutrient deficiencies.

Balance your blood sugar levels and don’t skip meals. Skipping meals and having blood sugar dysregulation can cause you to have increased anxiety and irritability, and “hanger”. Be mindful of your carbohydrate sources and trend towards whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Don’t just grab any carb though. Pairing your carbs with a fat or protein will help to stabilize your blood sugar, and in turn, stabilize your mood!

Eat a nutrient dense diet with lots of colorful fruits and veggies. Fruits and vegetables are filled with antioxidants and polyphenols which will help to lower inflammation that can worsen PMS, as well as reduce your risk of nutrient deficiencies involved in mood disturbances. To get your bang for your buck, power up the cruciferous vegetables that can help detoxify excess estrogen!

Eat enough fat Don’t forget to consume enough cholesterol and fat. No, fat does not make you fat! Progesterone is made from cholesterol and fat, and too little progesterone will cause an estrogen dominance, leaving you mood, anxiety ridden, and prone to the devil of PMS. Aim to get enough healthy fats through diet and healthy sources of cholesterol. Foods rich in quality fats to focus on include salmon, egg yolks, avocado, nuts, olive oil, sardines, organic dairy, coconut, and grass-fed beef.

Don’t skip out on your carbohydrates. Carbohydrates help to increase your levels of serotonin, which is your calming, happy neurotransmitter. Consuming healthy carbohydrates while focusing on balancing your blood sugar can help to boost your mood, keep you full, and improve your energy levels. They can also help ward off cravings! Healthy carbohydrates to focus on include whole grains such as oatmeal, brown rice, whole wheat breads, corn tortillas, sweet potatoes, and any fruit!

If on birth control, replete the nutrients that hormonal birth control can deplete. Nutrient depletions can worsen PMS symptoms and create mood imbalance. The following are important nutrients involved in hormone health, PMS, and can be depleted by hormonal birth control:

Vitamin B6: fish, poultry, whole grains, eggs, soy beans, milk
Magnesium: nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, cacao, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate
Folate: leafy greens, nuts, beans, citrus fruit, cruciferous vegetables
Zinc: red meat, poultry, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, nuts, dairy, whole grains

By powering up your nutrition, you can take hold of PMS and it’s delirious effects on your emotions. Instead of letting it control you, you can be the boss of your own body, and mind!

Have questions? Fire away in the comments!

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