For many women, periods are no cakewalk, and are often accompanied by pain and discomfort among a multitude of other symptoms such as bloating. This is a completely normal occurrence for the majority of women on their period and is due to changes in hormone levels that cause women to retain water, leading to a swollen abdomen. This can make writing tighter clothes difficult and be a source of embarrassment for some. Though periods may be unavoidable, here are some practical things you can do to lessen bloating before and during your time of the month so that you can be as comfortable as possible.
When you are bloated, your body retains more water than normal, and certain foods can exacerbate this problem. If you want to reduce these effects, stay away from salty foods, which will help your body hold on to even more water. It can also be a good idea to eat less refined sugar, especially those found in carbonated drinks. Additionally, stay away from foods that cause gas. These include, not only beans, but also several common vegetables such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Once you cut out the culprit foods from your diet during your period, you can further help prevent bloating by focusing on foods that contain potassium such as bananas and asparagus. Getting your fill of protein is also helpful in reducing bloating, from poultry, to different types of fish, to even vegetarian options such as tofu. These foods will help keep the uncomfortable bloating feeling away.
Though moving around may feel more uncomfortable when you are bloated, exercise is a great way to boost your mood and eliminate discomfort from a variety of menstrual symptoms. Being active and getting your heart rate up, whether it’s going for a daily walk, doing some yoga, or some other not-too-intense routine, will benefit both your body and mind.
Counterintuitive as it may seem, drinking water is actually helpful for reducing bloat. On the days leading up to your period, make sure you are staying fully hydrated and getting around 64oz or more per day. Be careful not to over hydrate though, or else the symptoms may come back. While you’re at it, during your days of bloating, try replacing alcohol and caffeinated drinks with water, which can dehydrate you and have the opposite effect of what you want.
As we get older, sleep sometimes becomes less of a priority, but the benefits of a good night’s sleep cannot be ignored. As you aim for 8 hours of sleep per night, your body takes that time to flush out water and bring your belly back down to its original size.
If these steps don’t have much of an impact on your bloating, you may want to consider going on medication. Diuretics can help your body flush out water when it is struggling to do so on its own, and though some foods and drinks are natural diuretics, your body may need something more. Additionally, birth control can provide relief from many menstrual symptoms. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor before making this decision, but it may give your body the push it needs to stop the bloating and get you feeling more comfortable again.