Minimize period pain simply by saying 'no' to certain foods during your cycle! is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program. This post contains affiliate links, and we may earn commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. This website is reader-supported, so thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Is PMS Knock Knock Knockin' On Your Door?

A woman's menstrual blood flow changes her body. These symptoms may include abdominal pain, period cramps, mood swings, water retention, and achy muscles. Not fun!

While proper nutrition is essential at all times of the month, there are foods that you may want to avoid during your periods.

If you've ever wondered what not to eat on your period, this is for you!

Below, we'll discuss the top 5 food categories many women should avoid during their cycle to help alleviate menstrual pain and promote overall well-being.

1) Processed and High-Sodium Foods

Many women experience period symptoms such as stomach pain that affect their digestive health during a menstrual cycle.

Consuming highly processed foods, such as chips, fast food, and frozen meals, often high in sodium, can intensify bodily pain. Excess salt can lead to water retention and bloating, making period pain more pronounced. Ouch!

(It's only cute when you're little...)

A Better Choice

Opt for fresh, whole foods instead of processed food when you can. You can incorporate fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains into meals to nourish your body.

Also, herbs and spices boost the flavor of food without use of excess salt.

Feeling snacky? Stock up on veggies and hummus, or make homemade popcorn for a satisfying alternative!

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2) Sugary Treats and Refined Carbohydrates

Women may have intense cravings for sweets and carbohydrates during their periods. While indulging in sugary treats might provide temporary pleasure, it's essential to be mindful of their more significant impact during monthly blood flow.

High sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption can lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes, worsening mood swings and fatigue. These processed foods lead to uncomfortable symptoms and increased irritability on top of period cramps.

Reduce sugar intake to minimize blood sugar spikes

A Better Choice

To satisfy cravings, choose healthier alternatives like naturally sweet fruits. Reach for prime produce: colorful, fresh, and seasonal items.

Replace refined carbs with complex carbohydrates; these can provide sustained energy while stabilizing blood sugar levels. Grains like quinoa, brown rice, or whole wheat bread are great bases for meals, providing health benefits and essential nutrients.

If your sweet tooth is set on a treat, you may be surprised that dark chocolate is recommended for women to eat during their menstrual flow. Dark chocolate is on THIS list of best period foods to satiate sugar cravings while providing magnesium and antioxidants. Sign us up!

Consider this:


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3) Caffeine

Although it might be tempting to rely on caffeine for an energy boost during menstruation, it's advisable to moderate its intake.

Caffeine may interrupt healthy sleep habits, increase anxiety and irritability, and contribute to period pains such as breast tenderness and severe cramps.

Caffeine often goes hand-in-hand with sugary drinks and/or dairy, which are other foods recommended to avoid during your period.

Caffeine can disturb sleep patterns, and quality beauty rest is key (especially during a period)

A Better Choice

Instead of consuming caffeinated beverages like coffee and energy drinks, consider switching to herbal teas or caffeine-free alternatives. Women have used herbal teas for thousands of years, as they are known to relieve menstrual cramps.

Herbal teas such as chamomile, peppermint, or ginger can provide soothing effects and help relax the body.

You can also opt for decaffeinated versions of your favorite beverages, like herbal coffee substitutes, or drink infused water for hydration.

Consider this:


Herbal Coffee Sampler

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4) Dairy Products

Dairy products contain arachidonic acid, which can trigger inflammation and exacerbate menstrual cramps.

Additionally, some women may experience digestive issues like bloating and gas when consuming dairy products.

Avoid dairy-based products that may trigger inflammation during menstruation

A Better Choice

If dairy products trigger period pain, try dairy alternatives like almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk.

There are non-dairy probiotic-rich food options available in most regular grocery stores. These alternatives are often fortified with vitamin D and calcium and can be a nutritious substitute.

Additionally, calcium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, sesame seeds, and enriched plant-based products are all things you can eat during your period.

Consider this:


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5) Fatty and Fried Foods

Fatty and fried foods, such as french fries, greasy burgers, and fried snacks, may increase inflammation and period pain in the body.

Inflammation can worsen menstrual cramps and contribute to feelings of sluggishness and discomfort.

Keep away from fried foods that are often cooked in inflammatory oils

A Better Choice

Instead of frying, opt for healthier cooking methods like baking, grilling, or steaming to reduce pain and inflammation.

Select protein-rich food like skinless chicken, fish, or legumes, which provide other essential nutrients without the excess fat.

Incorporate foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds, or chia seeds, which have anti-inflammatory properties and can help alleviate symptoms during blood loss.

Consider this:


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Foods to Avoid During Your Period FAQs

Managing period cramps can be challenging, and making informed dietary choices can contribute to overall well-being during this time. In this section, let's address common concerns and provide answers to help you navigate certain foods to avoid during your menstrual flow.

Why should women avoid caffeine during their periods?

Caffeine can increase PMS symptoms such as anxiety and irritability. Caffeine consumption may affect mood levels during a woman's period, although the relationship is complex and can vary among individuals.

Caffeine is a known stimulant that can increase alertness by affecting the central nervous system. Consuming caffeine during periods when stress levels may already be heightened could worsen symptoms or make them more noticeable.

Furthermore, caffeine can interfere with sleep quality. Some women may already experience sleep disruptions during menstruation due to discomfort, pain, or hormonal changes, and adding a stimulant to the mix makes it even worse.

Some people tolerate caffeine well, while others may be more sensitive to its effects. If caffeine aggravates symptoms during your period, it might be worth reducing or avoiding caffeine intake.

Discussing concerns or persistent anxiety symptoms with a healthcare professional for personalized guidance is a good idea!

Are there specific types of fatty foods that should be avoided during menstruation?

While not all fats are bad, women should avoid consuming excessive amounts of unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans fats, during their periods. These fats can promote inflammation, leading to increased menstrual pain and bloating. Foods high in unhealthy fats include fried foods, processed snacks, fatty cuts of meat, and full-fat dairy products.

What are saturated fats? 

Saturated fats are common in animal-based products like meat, butter, and full-fat dairy products. Saturated fats can activate immune cells called macrophages, which release pro-inflammatory molecules known as cytokines. Besides being a detriment during flow, these cytokines can contribute to the development of chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

What are trans fats? 

Trans fats are artificially produced fats primarily found in partially hydrogenated oils, used in manufacturing many processed goods, fried foods, and margarine. Trans fats increase levels of harmful LDL cholesterol and decrease levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol. Moreover, they promote inflammation by triggering the production of inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). These inflammatory markers are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and other long-term illnesses.

Should women avoid foods high in salt during menstruation?

Yes, limiting the intake of salt and sodium-rich foods is recommended during your period. High salt levels can contribute to bloating, a common symptom experienced during menstruation. Additionally, salt may cause increased blood pressure. Processed foods, canned soups, fast food, and salty snacks are high in sodium and should be minimized.

Why should women avoid consuming sugary foods during menstruation?

It's advisable to reduce the consumption of sugary foods during your period. High-sugar foods can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, exacerbating mood swings and fatigue. Additionally, sugary foods often lack nutrients and can contribute to inflammation.

Instead, opt for natural sugars to satisfy your sweets cravings, such as vitamin C-rich citrus fruits or berries that have anti-inflammatory effects on your body.

Is it necessary to avoid dairy products during menstruation?

While there is no need to avoid dairy products (unless you have an allergy, of course), some women may experience increased bloating and digestive discomfort during their periods due to lactose intolerance or sensitivity.

If you drink milk and notice these symptoms, consider reducing your dairy intake or opt for lactose-free alternatives like almond milk and coconut milk.

Period Pain Relief

Understanding the impact of dietary choices during your cycle is crucial for managing symptoms. While we have provided a list of foods to avoid during your period, it's important to remember that everyone's lifestyle, dietary needs, and preferences are different. What works for one person may not work for another, and that's okay! It's best to listen to your body and pay attention to how specific foods affect your period symptoms.

If you notice that a particular food seems to exacerbate your menstrual symptoms, take note of it. Consider reducing or eliminating it from your diet.

Hot tip: A food diary can help identify patterns so you can make decisions based on experience. 

It's worth mentioning that while avoiding certain foods can help alleviate discomfort, incorporating nutritious and balanced meals is equally important! Focus on consuming whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and foods rich in iron and magnesium. Consulting with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance and ensure you meet your nutritional needs.

Read next! 👉🏽 Here are some foods that will help to fuel your flow!

Remember, your menstrual cycle is unique to you. It's essential to honor your body's signals and adapt your diet accordingly. By being mindful of food choices and paying attention to how your body responds, you can find a dietary approach that supports your well-being during menstrual flow!

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