Photo: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul
The Breakfast That's Better (and More Filling) Than Midol
A large Columbia University study found that PMS sufferers who took 1,200 mg of calcium per day noted an almost 50 percent reduction in symptoms like cramps, bloating, cravings and irritability. (This study supported earlier research suggesting calcium may be an effective treatment for PMS.) Our bodies can only absorb about 500 to 600 mg of calcium at a time, so take your first dose early in the day.
Best bet: Low-fat milk (8 ounces has 300 mg calcium) with bran cereal. Look for a brand fortified with stress-reducing magnesium and folic acid as well as iron, which was recently found to be associated with a 30 to 40 percent lower likelihood of PMS by a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
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The Lunch That Will Level Out Your Mood
Snapping at your coworkers? Break for a lunch high in omega-3s. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are one of your best defenses against period-induced crankiness. There's an established link between people with depression and a low level of omega-3s, and a 2003 study in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism suggested that these fatty acids keep stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline in check.
Best bet: Ask for your fish grilled and served with a side of iron-and-magnesium-rich spinach (a magnesium deficit can trigger migraines and make you feel zonked). Or order sushi made with wild salmon, mackerel or arctic char, all of which have high levels of omega-3s and low levels of potentially toxic mercury.
A Snack That Does More Than Satisfy Cravings
Step away from the potato chips and French-onion dip--salty, fatty indulgences will make you feel even more bloated. The perfect replacement involves two superfoods that are especially effective at this time of the month.
Best bet: Sunchoke chips (they're easy to make) and guacamole. Sunchokes are high in thiamine--they have 400 times the amount found in potatoes--and a recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that healthy doses of thiamine (or vitamin B1) can make you less likely to develop PMS.
The Dinners to Eat When You're Feeling Blue
A study published in the medical journal BJOG (for the British College of Ob-Gyns) found that when PMS-afflicted women took capsules of 30 mg of saffron every day throughout their cycle, three-quarters reported a significant reduction in symptoms like irritability and fatigue. The theory is that saffron may increase levels of feel-good serotonin, which can plummet before menstruation.
Best bets: Bouillabaisse, saffron rice, paella--all of these dishes incorporate the boldly colored spice. It can also brighten up curries, but steer clear of spicy side dishes that may upset your already sensitive stomach.
Bedtime Treats to Nix Your Symptoms
Try these PMS snacks, which also tame a p.m. sweet tooth.
Best bets: Yogurt will help you reach your calcium quota (3/4 cup has 300 mg calcium). Sprinkle it with sunflower seeds, a surprise source of additional calcium (one ounce has 50 mg) and mood-boosting magnesium. The seeds are also a good source of omega-6 fatty acids, which some women say helps alleviate breast tenderness.
Stir bananas and walnut pieces into oatmeal. This easy-to-make snack is high in magnesium and soluble fiber, which can help prevent period-related diarrhea. Drizzle flaxseed oil on top to get some extra omega-3s--without the fishy taste.
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Photo: ThinkstockBy Corrie Pikul