Beat PMS Bloating - 5 Do's and Don'ts

When you’re already suffering from PMS, bloating around your middle just adds to the feelings of despondency.  And if you’re feeling fat – even when you’re not! – you’re more likely to feel sorry for yourself and comfort eat, giving in to those premenstrual food cravings.  So this post is about what you can do to make bloating go away – and better still, prevent it.

PMS Bloating Why Do We Get Bloated?

Many women tend to retain more fluid in the days leading up to their period.  This is because of rising oestrogen levels which make your kidneys hang on to more water and more salt.  (Bloating can also be a problem during perimenopause when oestrogen levels are going up and down).  

Other factors, such as stress and certain foods, can also contribute to bloating.  But if your bloating comes around on a monthly cycle, the cause is hormone changes. 

Constipation can also be a problem during PMS, which adds to the uncomfortable feelings around your middle.

Top 5 Anti-Bloat Tips

Here are some things you can do to manage fluid retention and the yucky feelings that go with it:

AVOID SALT

There are lots of health reasons for steering clear of table salt.  It’s full of toxic synthetic chemicals and bleach, is addictive, and is dangerous for blood pressure and diabetes.  (Sea salt is somewhat purer – but should still be avoided).  But salt also absorbs water and so makes bloating worse. 

Even if you don’t add salt to your cooking or to your plate, most processed foods are loaded with salt.  For example, canned soups, canned vegetables, ready meals, processed meats from the deli counter  And of course, savoury snacks, like crisps and salted nuts.  

So the best way to meet your body’s needs for sodium is by eating fresh, whole foods -  preferably including lots of raw foods.  For example, celery is a great source of natural sodium.

UP THE plant-based foods 

Fruits, vegetables and grains will all help provide the nutrients your body needs to reduce bloating, including potatssium (found in many fruits) and magnesium (found in many vegetables).  Magnesium is great for reducing PMS symptoms all round – not just bloating.

But be warned – some vegetables can contribute to creating gas, particularly beans and vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (part of the cruciferous vegetable family).

GET LOTS OF FIBRE

If you’re eating lots of fruit and vegetables for their sodium and mineral content, you should have no trouble getting enough fibre.  But why is it important?  Well, regular bowel movements are necessary because they:

  • Remove toxins
  • Remove excess hormones – bringing down oestrogen levels
  • Smooth out blood sugar levels – bringing up your mood and energy levels

Getting enough fibre also means you won’t get constipated, which is good news because if you’re not ‘regular’, toxins and hormones which should be getting eliminated from your body, get reabsorbed back into your system.

Plant-based whole foods are naturally rich in fibre and help keep your bowels moving.  If you need to get more fibre into your diet, eat more oats, brown rice, pulses, fruits and vegetables, and drink more water.  Flaxseeds are another source of fibre – as well as containing essential fatty acids which are great for general health and for PMS.   

But as with every healthy change though, give your body a chance to adjust.  Be careful that you don’t add too much fibre too quickly, or you’ll feel even more bloated than before!

Drink (healthy) fluids

Ditch the tea and coffee and drink water or diluted fruit juice or herbal tea.  I’ve already talked about how caffeine is a stimulant and depressant.   But caffeine also interferes with removing toxins from your body and adds to bloating.

Like caffeine, alcohol is bad news for mood, hormone balance and bloating, so be especially carefully in the second half of your cycle.

Eat lots of water-rich foods, like raw fruits and vegetables and salads, and drink enough water (but not too much!) to keep your kidneys working well and stop your body holding onto water.

Exercise (yes, that again!)

Exercise is a key PMS remedy, a great mood booster and the best form of health insurance.  But exercise also reduces bloating because it forces the body to redistribute the water in the body, which moves it from your middle to other parts of the body – where you can sweat it out.   Exercise also helps gas pass through your digestive tract more quickly and improves bowel movements.  So you feel better – faster.

Thanks for reading!

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5 thoughts on “Beat PMS Bloating - 5 Do's and Don'ts

  1. Hi Just wanted to say how really useful I find your site. Just about every article and link is useful for me in tackling the onset of the Peri menopause. I have always suffered from PMS however now at 49 and just at the start of the perimenopause I have been desperately in need of some practical advice. The whole subject has so much written about it, it can be almost impossible to know where to start. It can also be very expensive trying various supplements etc.
    Since becomming a regular reader of your site I have started a more structured approach to helping ease my symptons and it is definately changing my mood and health for the better. Thank You!

  2. Do you think a gluten free diet would be bad for pmt as I'm currently thinking it may be causing my bloating issues. I get bloated all month and it's worse before a period.

  3. Hello Kelly,

    Gluten-free products are often highly processed foods – they have to be to get round the lack of wheat gluten and still make the products look and taste 'normal'. Therefore, lots of additives and sugars are added, which can cause bloating. Equally, some people find they get bloated from the rice flour or other starches, and guar gum or xanthan gum which gluten-free products often contain.

    Although avoidiing gluten is getting a lot of press (and there is an ever expanding market in gluten-free products), only a tiny proportion of the population are actually coeliacs / senstive to gluten.

    However, if you feel gluten leads to you feeling bloated, why not switch to more gluten-free wholefoods? Buckwheat, amaranth, millet and quinoa are all gluten-free grains or seeds and are great wholefoods which contain fibre and B vitamins for hormone balance and general health. Rye contains less gluten, and you may also find you get on better with rye crispbreads like Ryita.

  4. Hi pmswarrior

    I have been reading all the comments and your advice for the past couple of hours. I must say what a great and useful site!
    I have been diagnosed by a gynaecologist who carried out repeated hormon profile tests, that I am within the pre-menopausal range. Both my FSH and LH levels are 10 or less and my Oestradiol is 2000 which is likely to be per-ovulatory.
    I have had a mirena coil in situ for about 9 years to reduce the bleeding which had caused me becoming anaemic. The coil stopped my periods altogether anyway as it should have and i was happy with it. When first time the coil was introduced to me, I was warned about weight gain which I was prepared for and I gained a few kilograms.
    During past 8-9 months, not only I have gained 15kg but I have swollen ankles and feet specially by the end of the day. I have been prescribed water tablet Fruzimide but the GP says I shouldn't be on it for too long because it affects the functionality of my kidneys. Despite taking the water tablets I still have swollen feet and ankles.
    Doctors and my GP don't take me seriously about my weight gain and how it's affected my life. I have searched the net for an answer but no one talks about weight gain and whether marina coil in pre-menopausal level is causing the weight gain. The gynaecologist referred me back to my GP and told me its up to me if I want to take it out. I have been so depressed about my weight gain and have been eating lots of fruits and vegetables ans also taking museli for breakfast. I don't eat fatty foods or takeaways and have been going to gym as well but nothing seems to work and my weight is still going up and up everyday? I have bought primrose oil and AC from Holland & Barratt and have just started taking them since 3 days ago.
    Could you please advise me on removal of my coil and whether it's the reason for my dramatic weight gain and whether AC does help me with losing weight and water retention . I will be ever so grateful for your reply. Thanx
    Ellie from London

    • Hi Ellie,

      Thanks for the feedback on the site.

      It would be inappropriate for me to give advice in individual cases, but I'm sorry to hear you're troubled by unwelcome weight gain since having the Mirena fitted.

      As you will have read in my separate post about the Mirena coil http://www.pmswarrior.com/does-the-mirena-coil-wo… it is not advisable to take agnus castus at the same time as the Mirena as both have a progestogenic effect.

      You may also have found my article about why evening primrose oil is not necessarily the most effect form of essential fatty acid for hormone balance: http://www.pmswarrior.com/there-are-better-altern

      If your weight gain is around your middle, this is quite common in middle age / perimenopause and you may find the Marilyn Glenville book Fat Around The Middle helpful in understanding how best to tweak your diet and exercise regime.

      Best wishes,

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