These Foods Will Make Your Period So Much Easier To Handle

What exactly should you be eating in order to have a more pleasant menstrual cycle?

Women's Health

There are a billion-and-one reasons why all women should consider themselves to be extraordinary beings with supernatural powers. Shoot, I am reminded of this every time my period rolls around. Although I've been fortunate to not experience a ton of cramping or any real menstrual-related discomfort, I do bloat, I am drained, a period pimple or two is sure to pop up (and leave a mark), the first two days are like bleed central…and, then there's the cravings. The week before and a couple of days into my period, anything processed and/or sugary, I'm all for it!

If you can totally relate to that last part, don't let anyone cause you to think that it's all in your head. The sugar that you desire is due to the drop in progesterone and estrogen that your body is experiencing. The dip in your serotonin (the feel-good hormone in your system) is why you want carbs like potato chips, pastries and all things white (white rice, white bread, white pasta, etc.). Problem is, while these foods may taste really good, they actually can make your period so much worse due to them causing things like fluctuating hormones, dehydration and a lack of sleep.

So, what exactly should you be eating in order to have a more pleasant menstrual cycle? According to science—and a little taste-testing on my end—here are some that will definitely make that one week a month, so much easier to bear.

1. Dark Chocolate


In every way and form that I can possibly think of, dark chocolate is dope. On the health tip, all of the antioxidants in it makes dark chocolate good for your heart, libido, blood pressure, vision and moods. And yes, get totally excited because dark chocolate is something that you shouldn't feel the least bit guilty about eating when you're on your period.

If you eat a high-quality form of it (it needs to have at least 65 percent cacao in it), the magnesium that's in dark chocolate will reduce the intensity of your cramps and trigger the endorphins in your system so that you feel happier—or at least less stressed.

2. Bananas


A naturally sweet way to get a good amount of potassium and fiber into your system is to have a banana. Some other cool things about this particular fruit is it can help to prevent diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. If you've got a Charlie horse, bananas can bring instant relief and, the Vitamin A in bananas make them a great way to keep your eyes healthy and strong.

Eating a banana is good for you during your period because oftentimes cramping worsens as the result of having too little potassium in our bodies. Not only that, but the Vitamin B6 that's also in this kind of fruit can soothe any back discomfort that your period may bring to your body.

3. Watermelon


When I'm writing on topics like this, I like to mention when foods are in season; that way, you can get them when they've got the most nutrients and they taste the best. As far as watermelon goes, it's a fruit that is at its peak from May-September. This is a food that will not only keep you hydrated (something that you definitely need when you're on your period; more on that in just a sec), it also has a good amount of vitamins A and C, is able to help prevent certain types of cancer, reduce bodily inflammation and, if you eat some of it following a workout, the citrulline (an amino acid) that is in watermelon can help to decrease any muscle soreness that you may be experiencing.

Since watermelon is made up of so much water (92 percent), it, along with its natural sugar (6 percent), can also soothe your period cramps. It's definitely a healthier alternative to OTC meds.

4. Infused Water


The reason why we all need to drink more water than usual whenever we're on our period is because it's the shift in our progesterone and estrogen levels that causes us to feel bloated and can sometimes end up causing constipation. If you'd honestly rather drink anything but water, make your own infused kind. That way, the water will have a little extra flavor to it, plus the fresh fruits, veggies and/or herbs will give your system some more of the nutrients that it probably needs.

Whatever you do, just make sure that you don't eat a billion bowls of cereal or get a large milkshake. Dairy contains something known as arachidonic acid that can trigger cramps or make them more intense. Also, soda and coffee aren't really your friends either. They are good at putting your hormones on even more of a roller coaster ride. Who wants that?!

5. Saffron


Let's throw a spice in here, shall we? When's the last time you cooked with a little bit of saffron? It's got the kind of antioxidants that fight cancer, lower blood sugar levels, reduce heart disease risk and can increase the libido in both men and women (if you take a 30 mg supplement on a daily basis, that is).

What a lot of people don't know is saffron is also pretty awesome at treating PMS and mood swings. On the PMS tip, saffron soothes food cravings, headaches and any pain that's associated with your period. Also, if you typically find yourself feeling kinda blue (or straight-up pissed) during that time of the month, this a spice that is effective at treating mild depression (again, so long as you consume it on a regular basis).

6. Popcorn


OK, before you get too excited, I'm not talking about movie popcorn that's doused in butter and salt. But yes, popcorn (especially if you pop it yourself—on the stove and not in the microwave) that has as little "extra" on it as possible is a multi-grain food that contains vitamins B1, B3 and B6, magnesium, manganese (a ton of that!), zinc, potassium, copper, phosphorus and iron. Something else that popcorn has in it is a good amount of antioxidants. So yeah, possibly without you even knowing it, it's the kind of snack food that can boost your immune system.

The reason why it's perfectly fine to curl up with a bowl of popcorn and binge-watch your favorite show while you're on your cycle is because popcorn also triggers the production of serotonin in your system. When serotonin is flowing, you end up being in a better mood and getting a sounder night's rest too.

7. Spinach


Spinach is a low-calorie (25 of 'em per serving) vegetable that offers all sorts of nutrients. It's got vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, folic acid, calcium and iron in it. It also contains plant compounds like lutein, quercetin and zeaxanthin. All of these nutrients make it possible for spinach to fight off free radicals, improve your vision and lower your blood pressure. At the same time, if you are prone to kidney stones, you probably shouldn't eat spinach on a daily basis; the calcium and oxalates that's in it could actually cause a kidney stone to form (#themoreyouknow).

Since spinach does have a lot of iron in it, eating some is a good way to get your blood back on track. And, since it also contains Vitamin E, a little green juice or spinach salad can decrease any menstrual discomfort you might be feeling too.

8. Blackberries


The peak season for blackberries is July thru August. I recommend getting some because, not only do they have a lot of vitamins A, C and K in them, they also are full of fiber and manganese too. Aside from the fact that, the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties in blackberries can keep the cavities away. And this fruit can boost your brain health too.

Another plus with blackberries is they are able to bring balance back to your hormones (that just may be all over the place during your period). Also, if you are naturally low in estrogen, they just might give that a bit of a boost as well. (For the record, blueberries can also accomplish a lot of these same things.)

9. Cramp Bark Tea


Gee, it's almost poetic that the herb viburnum is also known as cramp bark. Because it contains properties that suppress muscle spasms and reduce muscle tension, it's the type of herb that can relieve symptoms that are related to inflammation, tension headaches and even arthritis. If you're dealing with symptoms related to perimenopause or menopause, it can reduce some of those as well.

Since this is the type of herb that works so well with muscle discomfort, it makes perfect sense why it would be a great herb to treat menstrual cramps. Not only that, but the phenolic compounds in cramp bark can also aid in treating endometriosis or speed up the physical healing process of a miscarriage.

You can take this herb in supplement form, but I recommend drinking it as a hot tea because that can feel super soothing. A brand of cramp bark that's good is Tea Haven's Cramp Bark Tea.

10. Lentils


I don't know about you, but something that I find to be a great comfort food (especially when the cold weather sets in) is some homemade lentil soup. It's a good source of protein and fiber, contains a pretty impressive amount of calcium (38 grams per cup) and, if you're pregnant, it's also a good way to get some (more) folic acid into your system. I decided to end this particular food round up with lentils because two other nutrients that it contains are iron and magnesium.

Due to all of the blood that is lost during our period (the average is around 16 teaspoons), we need the iron replenishment, for sure. And, as far as magnesium goes, if you tend to have trouble sleeping during your period, having some lentils for dinner may help you to get some much needed z-z-z's so that you—and your period—can tackle another day. (If you want to make some of your own soup, Chef Mama Rosa has a recipe for you here. Enjoy!)

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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