10 Foods That Worsen Period Cramps & 10 That Alleviate Symptoms

10 Foods That Worsen Period Cramps & 10 That Alleviate Symptoms

We all know when it’s coming. A storm of unpleasant symptoms smack us in the face every month and among them, the dreaded period cramp. It often feels like they have the upper hand, but there are ways to soothe the pain and get back to everyday life. With that, here are 10 foods to keep away from during your period and 10 that calm the waters. 

1. Caffeine

We know that coffee looks tempting, but keep away until period cramps subside. Caffeine can constrict blood vessels, restricting blood flow to the uterus and thereby exacerbating cramps. Just as annoying, coffee can lead to headaches and more frequent trips to the bathroom.

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2. Dairy

Dairy is already an issue for the lactose intolerant, but paired with menstrual cramps the pain only worsens. Certain dairy products can also lead to bloating, which makes the whole experience more intolerable.

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3. Spicy Foods

On a good day spicy food is out to get us, let alone when we’re dealing with cramps. Spicy foods are well-known disruptors of our digestive system and eating any on your period only makes cramping worse.

Ryan-Quintal-Z4Yn-Cvvjma-UnsplashPhoto by Ryan Quintal on Unsplash

4. Excessive Salt

Too much salt is never a good thing and it’s especially bad during that time of the month. Excessive salt is a one-way ticket to water retention and bloating, which adds to cramping pain.

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5. Fatty Foods

Fatty foods hit every period craving…for a price. The amount of unhealthy fats and salt can cause inflammation, digestive issues, and bloating—none of which you want alongside a bad cramp. 

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6. Carbonated Drinks

Don’t even think about that pop because carbonated drinks are a surefire path to bloating. You’d also do well to avoid the sugar and caffeine found in soft drinks, both of which can exacerbate period pain.

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7. Alcohol

Alcohol does a number on your system, so steer clear during your period. It not only leaves you dehydrated, which makes cramping worse, but it’s also known to cause bloating and can even make your period heavier.

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8. Too Much Sugar

Sugar is one of the first things we turn to, but too much is a no-go. Excessive sugar brings on a heavier flow and has been linked to inflammation, not to mention all the bloating.

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9. Red Meat

Red meat is packed with saturated fats, a lot of iron, and not enough fiber. Together, they can lead to increased discomfort and inflammation that make period cramps a bigger nightmare.

Jose-Ignacio-Pompe-S-Z-H0Feibm-UnsplashPhoto by José Ignacio Pompé on Unsplash

10. Processed Foods

Things like fast food and processed meat may hit the sweet spot for cravings, but do nothing to relieve cramps. Often filled with additives and preservatives, processed foods lead to water retention and, you guessed it, bloating.

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Now let’s dive into which foods alleviate period discomfort.


1. Fatty Fish

If you’re a seafood lover, now’s the time to dive fork-first into a salmon steak. Fatty fish is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which relieves pain thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties.

Taylor-Grote-Uxhiu5F5Gn4-UnsplashPhoto by Taylor Grote on Unsplash

2. Dark Chocolate

Thank goodness we don’t have to rule out chocolate, right? Dark chocolate has been a divisive choice for years and though you may not like the bitter taste, it’s a good source of magnesium—and you’ll need that to relieve muscle pain.

Jason-Leung-Nnzddrrnxd0-UnsplashPhoto by Jason Leung on Unsplash

3. Leafy Greens

Speaking of magnesium, leafy greens like spinach and kale have a ton of it. They also have lots of iron to help get your levels back to normal. 

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4. Ginger

We turn to ginger for any number of troubles, and it’s safe to add period cramps to the list. It's full of anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties that reduce the intensity of cramps—meaning you should down a cup of ginger tea stat.

Julia-Topp-Xz4M49O8Qce-UnsplashPhoto by Julia Topp on Unsplash

5. Bananas

With so much potassium and fiber in one little fruit, bananas work overtime to reduce water retention, bloating, and pain. They also have plenty of vitamin B6, which can regulate PMS symptoms.

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6. Pumpkin Seeds

We’re not done talking about magnesium—or the magnesium-rich foods that alleviate pain! Pumpkin seeds are filled with magnesium but also zinc, which also help control PMS symptoms.

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7. Nuts

Remember how we talked about omega-3 fatty acids? Well, nuts like almonds and walnuts are filled with them too, making them a great snack when cramps give you the business. 

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8. Other Fruit

Reach for a fruit cup the next time you feel a cramp coming on, particularly those of the citrus or water-rich variety. They keep you healthy, hydrated, and curb those cravings. 

Nanxi-Wei-6Wwwid4Eaxo-UnsplashPhoto by Nanxi wei on Unsplash

9. Beans and Legumes

Chickpeas, legumes, and beans are all terrific sources of fiber and protein, and it’s crucial to maintain your intake of both so you can ward off stomach upset. They’re also rich in magnesium and iron, alleviating pain and keeping you energized. 

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10. Water

Always reach for that water bottle because water does a lot to ease period discomfort. Drink plenty of it to keep bloating down, stay alert, and soothe cramp pain.

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