Literally everything in the featured photo below is beneficial when dealing with painful or difficult periods, and I’m about to tell you why….
Like so many other women in this world, I often deal with difficult or painful periods. My own scenario is due to my brutal pairing of Hashimoto’s and Endometriosis. But despite my somewhat unique, disordered double-feature, I am far from alone in experiencing pain every time my monthly “visitor” decides rolls around.
In this article I’m not going to dive into the many possibilities of why you’re experiencing painful periods – short and sweet, I am not a medical professional licensed to diagnose and/or treat. I would encourage you to reach out to your doctor or naturopath in order to begin the dialogue of what it is you might be experiencing. Pain or discomfort during your period is never something you should have to simply put up with – fight to get those answers!
I can already hear so many people ask me, “Why don’t you just take Midol?”
If you’re familiar with my blog/coaching technique, you already know I opt for as natural a lifestyle as possible. I truly believe in healing with good food and nature more than jumping on just any pharmaceutical merry-go-round. Is there a time and a place for carefully prescribed medications? Of course! However, whenever available, I prefer the more natural route.
As mentioned above, I have a two-fold scenario when it comes to my monthly cycle. On one hand, I have Hashimoto’s – an autoimmune condition which tends to slow down my body and cause fluid stagnation. On the other, I have Endometriosis, which causes its own version of stagnation, growing abnormal endometrial cells outside my uterus (I know…cute, right?). Eventually my body recognizes the overgrowth and works double time in order to “shed” it. When these Endometriosis “attacks” (as I call them) hit, the process is incredibly painful, exhausting, frustrating, and even debilitating when handled incorrectly.
Thankfully, over the many years, I have become very skilled in recognizing when one of these “attacks” is brewing. I have to be incredibly tuned into my body, but I’ve come to pick up on the cues alerting me to an upcoming “attack.” Often times they resemble irregular irritability, premature cramping, and inconsistent breathing. As soon as I notice these signs and symptoms, I dive into, what I now refer to as, “My Painful Period Protocol.”
I clear my schedule as best I can to provide plenty of time and room to heal. I pick a movie, TV show, or book to pamper myself with (don’t skip this step, it’s important 😉 ). Finally, and most importantly, I prep my meals to feature foods and nutrients I know will support my system. Which foods do I specifically turn to in times such as these? I’m so glad you asked.
Returning to the photo from the beginning of this post – I mentioned that every item featured in it serve to help with tricky periods. Don’t believe me? Let’s dive in…
Red Wine – Yes, it’s true. Red wine is often considered inflammatory, and most of the time I limit my consumption. However, in scenarios when it feels as though your period is slow to get moving, I often recommend a glass or two of red wine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, (red) wine is thought to be incredibly warming. It adds heat to your body and aids in getting things moving. Please note – this is not an opportunity for all my “winos” to jump into a full bottle. Drinking too much wine can cause dehydration, which of course will have the opposite effect of what we want. Keep it to one or two glasses during times of painful cramping, and you may just find things moving a lot smoother.
Steak – Why do I turn to red meat on my period? Easy – iron. On average, women lose 30-40 milliliters (some even up to 60) during their cycles, and while it’s rarely registered as actual “blood loss,” most women will experience a drop in iron during the week. If you find yourself craving a burger, or even the dirt outside, chances are you need to add a solid boost your iron. Not eager to eat red meat? Jump to the section on onions below.
Spinach – Leafy greens, such as spinach, contain glutathione, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to keep your liver working correctly. Spinach is also a great source of folate which provides your body with a boost of folic acid. What does all that mean exactly? It means, combined with spinach’s fiber content, your digestion and GI tract will run much smoother. Running…flowing…moving…are we starting to pick up on the theme here?
Onions – Onions are another excellent source of easily absorbed iron (see above section regarding steak). In addition to that, onions are a great resource for cleansing the liver. For those of us dealing with Hashimoto’s, any friend of the liver should instantly be considered a friend of mine as Hashimoto’s tends to make one’s liver rather sluggish. Onions are a great thing to partner with the red wine if you find wine is regularly inflammatory for you. You may find it helps to cut back on a few of those responses.
Sweet Potato – Do not fear carbs my friends, your body needs them. Carbs provide us with energy, and you’re going to need it given the 5-7 days you have ahead of you. I opt for carbs such as yams or sweet potatoes because they are nutritionally dense. If sweet potatoes are simply not your jam, feel free to trade them out with another starchy carbed option – but be careful not to turn to the simple sugars we crave so often during our cycles.
Garlic – Another warming agent. Garlic is a great way to heat up otherwise cooling foods. It makes things easier for the body to digest, and similar to the wine, it picks up one’s Chi and allows things to flow a little smoother. #TCM
Last, but not least…
Olive Oil – Oh yes, we are going deep on this post. Even the choice of cooking oil can aid during your period pains. Rich, fatty oils such as olive, avocado, or walnut are going to serve as anti-inflammatories. You can essentially consider olive oil nature’s Ibuprofen as studies have shown Omega 3s to assist in reducing menstrual cramps.
One other suggestion, not pictured here…
If you find your period is really having a tough time getting going, may I highly recommend trying a castor oil compress. I hummed and hawed about this for months before biting the bullet and giving it a try…it’s total game changer. I’ll probably eventually write up my own post about castor oil compresses, but until that day, please find all necessary information on how to do one here. With the full kit available on Amazon Prime – the process could not be any easier.
Until next time, I wish you a healthy and productive flow. If you have any further questions regarding the information presented here, please do not hesitate to reach out. I look forward to hearing from you!