Less PMS: Fight Stress part 2

by holli on October 29, 2013

A Chard Bouqet harvested from the P-Patch. Secret weapon against PMS.

A Chard Bouqet harvested from the P-Patch. Secret weapon against PMS.

When I was six, my grandma died of cancer. It was the first time I really wondered about death. The only other experience I had around the topic included very old relatives I didn’t know very well. By the time I was 13, I had lost 3 out of my 4 grandparents. I think that played a large part in my growing interest in health and wellness. So, I started to read.

My nutritional education started with books like Native Nutrition, Nourishing Traditions, The Blood Type Diet and many others. Each on claimed to have the key to perfect health, and yet some contradicted each other. They were, quite honestly narrow in their approach toward nutrition, offering only solutions to part of the topic of how to nourish the body: from what kinds of fat to eat, how to prepare foods and your blood type. They didn’t help me understand a bigger picture, a picture with a panoramic 3-D view that in reality nutrition is one part what you put into your body and one part how your body uses it. Only the Blood Type book grazed the surface.

So, I’m honestly nervous to share what I’ve learned because all that I have to offer is my experience. As I shared in the last post, please note that I am not a doctor, and I don’t play on on TV or the Internet. 

Foods That Fight Stress

For the very reason that I can’t get into too much detail here without writing a book, I’m going to make a general statement: food either fuels and nourishes you or it burdens you and breaks you down. During PMS, this is especially crucial. There are foods that trigger your hormones, ability to handle stress and affect your energy. All of those seem to get onto a roller coaster for most of us. Well, here’s what I know:

1. Chocolate is a double edged sword. On the one hand, there are dozens upon dozens of studies that show it contains antioxidants and lifts the mood. On the other, in order to eat it, we add huge amounts of sugar, and usually have a hard time eating it in moderation. I know I may sound crazy, but chocolate is not your friend during PMS. The sugar that comes to satisfy your cravings puts stress on your body, making it work harder to metabolize the sugars and fats added for us to enjoy a piece of heaven.

I love dark chocolate. Early on in our marriage, my husband learned to bring me a bar of my favorite chocolate instead of flowers when he knew I was having a bad day. Guess what? After giving it up for 3 months, I lost my cravings for it. Today, I can enjoy it as a treat, instead of a survival tool for PMS. It’s a food that doesn’t fight stress, it fuels it. Now, I know, and use it wisely.

2. Coffee is not always your friend. This was the hardest truth for me to accept. I am stubborn, and coffee turn out to be my one true addiction. First of all, coffee hold a very near and dear place in my memories a child watching my Grandpa drink his black coffee with a donut or piece of pie, making my mom a cup of coffee and surprising her in the morning. For me, on a very deep level, coffee is more than just something to perk me up in the morning. It is a treat I get to savor as a grown up.

Like chocolate, coffee is heralded as a miracle substance from reducing Alzheimer’s to diabetes. As a tired mother of two, I loved those studies, because it’s how I justified drinking up to 5 cups on a bad day. It wasn’t until I started having random muscle spasms in my arms, torso and legs that I learned coffee’s dark side. It can make your body get rid of the essential mineral too fast. There are other culprits, of course, but for me, someone who made food from scratch and eats well, coffee and I took a break. I soon learned that my body was already crippled in that I had a harder time absorbing Magnesium because of my MTHFR gene mutation. I will never stop loving coffee, but I will also never let myself drink 5 cups a day again.

Another reason coffee is not your friend is simple: If over used, will you notice when you need to rest?

3. Vegetables are super heroes. Among all the diet and nutrition books I read, the only thing they had in common was talking about how we need to eat more vegetables. I know it sounds silly, but trust me. We all need to eat more of them! Traditional Chinese culture has some sort of saying that your plate should be 70% full of vegetables. It’s taken me over a year, and I’m still not at that goal, but I can say that some side benefits to me filling my plate with at least 50% vegetables at home have been: better looking skin, less oily hair, better digestion and encouraging my whole family to eat more of them!

Filled with various vitamins and minerals, vegetables are a key to good health. I don’t think it matter is you’re a Vegetarian or Paleo, we all need more vegetables. They reduce inflammation everywhere in the body, and that as a result makes all of our systems work better.

. . . . . . .

I could write another 1,000 words about what vegetables to eat over others, but the truth is that you are what you eat. We are all unique, and what may cure one person may not work for you. The key is to listen to your body. To take the time to notice was gives you heart burn, and what makes you feel great. I made a little food journal template you can use too. What I wrote above are just the two red flags and one often overlooked menu item. May you find your way to better health and less PMS!

xo, Holli

p.s. Magnesium helps your body with physical stress, and depression. Here’s a handy list of Magnesium rich foods via Dr. Oz.

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