Better Nutrition for a Better Period

by Leah Sipher-Mann
Girls hand holding pressed juice bottle

Eating during your period is tricky. I always crave carbs and sweets, but eating too much of those things while on my period never fails to make me feel even worse. Too much sugar and white carbs (like white bread and pasta) only make me feel bloated and lethargic. But rather than avoid certain foods during that time of the month, focus on adding more of the following types of foods to ensure you feel great while you’re on the rag.


Calcium deficiency can exacerbate symptoms of PMS, like depression and irritability. Dairy products obviously contain calcium, but if you don’t eat dairy, try dark leafy greens, like kale or spinach. You can pretty much incorporate greens into every meal: spinach in a breakfast green monster (my nickname for smoothies with fruit and greens), salad for lunch, and sautéed greens for dinner.

Complex Carbohydrates

Your brain is telling you to reach for that cookie, but your crampy belly will thank you if you have a piece of sprouted or whole grain bread with an indulgent topping -- like honey and almond butter or PB & dark chocolate chips – instead.


Foods rich in magnesium, like beans, tofu, and nuts, are thought to reduce bloating in menstruating women. Shoot for at least 200mg per day.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E has been shown to reduce period pain, which is obviously a good thing! A great source of vitamin E is avocado. You can whip up some guacamole or just slice one up and go to town! I love plain raw avocado as a snack.

Vitamin B6

This powerhouse of a vitamin aids in the metabolism of proteins and red blood cells, and has even been shown to relieve symptoms of depression. Potatoes and bananas are great sources of this vitamin. Snack on a banana and nuts to get your magnesium and B6 fix.


Iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency among women. Make sure you’re getting enough by consuming lots of dark greens, beans, and nuts. Red meat and eggs also contain iron, but it’s a myth that they’re the only good sources of it.

Vitamin C and Zinc

These nutrients help with iron absorbency, which is especially crucial during your period. Red berries, kiwi, and bell peppers have plenty of C, as do broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc. Add them to oatmeal, cereal, or salads. Top a sweet potato with pumpkin seeds, wilted spinach, a small handful of nuts, and a sprinkle of goat cheese for a delicious meal that incorporates many of the items on this list.

Water, Water, Water

Getting dehydrated is the easiest way to feel horrible when you’re on your period.

Your Favorite Treat!

Sure, the above foods are great, but I definitely understand that sometimes, you just need chocolate (or your treat of choice) when you’re on your period. So don’t feel bad about it! If you find yourself craving the sweet stuff, just go for a small piece of dark chocolate (70% or more cacao), and you’ll at least be getting some extra antioxidants with your sugar!


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