There is almost no day I scroll through my twitter timeline that I don’t see these words: periods are the ghetto. What’s not to agree with? #Sigh. The best-case scenario is that it makes you uncomfortable, worse case? You could be paralyzed in bed with pain you cannot describe. There are women who miss an entire week of school and work because of period cramps.
What causes the pain? During periods, our bodies release large amounts of inflammatory prostaglandins; let’s call it the pain chemical. The pain chemical constricts the blood vessels in the uterus and makes the muscle layer contract, causing painful cramps. Some of the pain chemicals then swim into the bloodstream, causing headaches, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Urgh!
Now, instead of waiting for the pain to start, why not focus on the cells in our bodies that produce the pain chemicals?
A simple way to do this is by changing our diet! Imagine my surprise when a doctor I see regularly broke this down for me. By simply adjusting our diet, we could reduce the pain and stress that comes with our periods. Eat more vegetables, more nuts, seeds, fruits, whole grains, foods rich in fiber etc.
I am not an advocate for diet that is unsustainable and makes one unhappy. As Nigerians, we were raised on lots of red meat and foods heavy in carbohydrates. Hello Jollof rice and Garri!! However, instead of a complete change, I decided to slowly incorporate these foods into my diet.
Avoiding red meat can be very difficult for us. If you can’t cut out red meat from your diet, you can reduce the number or size of it. Instead of two, eat one. Eat fish too.
When you eat rice and stew, why not add a side of steamed vegetables at the side? Maybe lightly steamed ugwu (pumpkin leaves) with onions and some pepper? You can do the same for yam, and plantain. You can also add some beans. Overtime, you can reduce the amount of rice/yam/plantain on your plate and have more vegetables. If you can afford it, buy brown rice.
When you feel peckish, you just feel like eating something, instead of biscuits or chips, why not eat some nuts? Groundnuts, almond nuts etc.
Fruits are also very helpful. Eat the fruits you like. For me, I like bananas and oranges a lot, and thankfully they are everywhere and are not expensive. Apples are good too. Berries, mangoes etc. One way to make eating them easy on days when I don’t feel like, is to make fruits salad. I slice mangoes, apples and bananas into a bowl, squeeze some lemon juice over them, and voila! It is very filling and yummy. Don’t forget to drink water. As with everything, moderation is key.
The things about these diet changes is that it not only helps you manage period pains, it also regulates your weight, keeps your skin glowing and overall your general health is better for it!
What’s your personal life hack to regulating period pain?