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What Not to Eat

Foods that Make PMS and PMDD Worse: What Not to Eat

by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Dr. Daniel J. Heller Dr. Daniel J. Heller

Dr. Heller is a family practitioner who specializes in helping patients with hormonal conditions like PMS & PMDD; diabetes and prediabetes; and other chronic diseases. He is the founder, formulator, and clinical director of PMS Comfort. [more]


In the first part of our series detailing our PMS and PMDD Balance Diet, we introduced you to a balanced, sensible eating plan based on super-healthy plant foods and high-quality protein and fats that answered the question, "What should I eat for PMS or PMDD?" But what about the other stuff—what not to eat: the boxed, bagged, microwavable, and restaurant food that is so convenient and tastes so great? Does eating the way most people do really contribute to PMS and PMDD symptoms? In this article, we'd like to answer the opposite, but equally important question, "What foods should I avoid if I have PMS or PMDD?"

We suggested that it's what you do every day, not just once in a while, that has the greatest impact on how you feel and how healthy you truly are. On the other hand, by eating too much of the wrong foods, you can create a toxic internal environment that eventually leads to health problems, including PMS and PMDD misery. Fortunately, the food you eat and the composition of your overall diet is ultimately in your hands.

How to Eat to Make PMS and PMDD Really Miserable

Not everyone is susceptible to PMS and PMDD. Some combination of genetics, environment, diet, lifestyle, hormones, mood chemistry, and stress combine to make some women suffer for several days to weeks out of nearly every month. If you are one of those unlucky women susceptible to premenstrual misery, your diet can make the difference between minor symptoms and real premenstrual misery. Here's how you can make your PMS worse:

Eat low-quality fats. Trans-fats, partially-hydrogenated oils, deep-fat fried foods, low-quality vegetable oils, and too much saturated animal fat all create a pro-inflammatory environment in your body that leads to more cramps, pains, bloating, bad moods, depression, and difficulty concentrating before your period. You can do a number on your complexion, too, by eating lots of bad fats. Mass-marketed chips, snacks, junk foods, baked goods, fried foods, and too much dairy fat, eggs, and fatty beef and pork from the industrial food chain can throw your body and metabolism completely out of balance.

The remedy. Follow our plant-based PMS and PMDD Balance Diet; choose high-quality extra-virgin olive oil and other healthy cooking and culinary oils from plants; deliberately replace unhealthy oil- and fat-containing snacks with quality choices. Think low-fat or non-fat yogurt with fresh fruit chunks, whole-grain crackers with nut butters, bean dips and veggies; and don't worry about small amounts of less-than-ideal dips or condiments if they help you transition to healthier snack habits.

Eat plenty of refined sugars and carbohydrates. Sweets, candies, ice cream, baked goods, and treats—not to mention plenty of white flour, white rice, and white potatoes—make it easy to have big mood and energy swings, and nothing works better for packing on the pounds.

They also help create that painful, pro-inflammatory environment we mentioned above, and combine well with bad fats to fuel acne and other complexion problems.

The remedy: Replace refined sugars and carbohydrates with whole grains and fruits, a sprinkling of alternative sweeteners like stevia, or a slight drizzling of maple syrup or honey. For those with an irresistible urge to eat sweets, moderation may not be possible: sometimes only complete elimination of sweets and white flour will do the trick. It only takes a few days to break the craving cycle, and the freedom from that compulsion can feel truly liberating!

Avoid fruits and vegetables. Eating vegetables can be downright inconvenient, and veggies and fruits don't have the same kind of synthetic, salty/sweet flavor blasts that can come in a box or a bag. The fewer veggies and fruits you eat, the less healthful fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants,,and phytonutrients you'll consume, maximizing your chances for PMS and PMDD suffering.

The remedy: Salads, stir-fries, side dishes, and main courses can all contain, or simply be mostly vegetables. Snacks and desserts can be centered around fresh fruits or veggie sticks. To get the most out of these health powerhouses, eat fresh or fresh-frozen to the extent possible. Canned vegetables are your second-best choice, and if you want canned fruit, get it packed in water or juice, not syrup. Fruit juice, fruit leather, and dried fruit have their benefits, but deliver too much sugar at once to be more than an occasional treat. 

Rely on caffeine and other quick fixes for your energy. After skipping breakfast and rushing off to work, school, or getting started on your errands, make your first meal of the day a donut, some orange juice and a cup of coffee around 10 AM. When your energy starts to crash an hour later, just have another cup of coffee, or maybe an energy drink laden with sugar and caffeine. Grab a convenience lunch packed with white flour and saturated fat, and soon find yourself falling asleep at your desk or in class, then repeat the caffeine–sugar cycle to keep yourself going (you know we're kidding, right?). This is a great prescription to dial up your stress level zap your energy level, and make your premenstrual symptoms much worse.

The remedy: Start with a balanced breakfast, the most important meal of the day. Eat real food as recommended in our PMS Balance Diet, and don't depend on caffeine and sugar for a short-term rush; switch to decaf or green tea, or at least keep your coffee dosage within reason. Now and again, take a deep relaxed breath. You may find that you actually get more accomplished at a slower but more deliberate pace than if you're rushing around, with your energy spiking and crashing all day long.

Jump on each and every fad diet you hear about. Try every new low-fat, low-carb, raw food, cleansing, and vegan diet that comes down the pike. You'll undermine your self-confidence, and as you cycle through rapid weight loss and weight gain, damage your gallbladder in the process.

The remedy:Our Balance Diet is time-tested—to the tune of hundreds or perhaps thousands of years—in the Mediterranean, a region where a plant-based diet has always been the foundation of good health. It's tasty, sustainable, and adaptable to your needs and lifestyle. And it not only benefits your premenstrual health, it can help you look and feel great at the same time.

What about chocolate and wine? Regular, moderate consumption of alcohol and dark chocolate can help keep your heart healthy. But alcohol can make PMS worse, because it taxes the liver, and your liver needs to be super-efficient in order to keep your hormones in balance. Chocolate, on the other hand, if eaten in moderation, probably won't make PMS worse.

What to do?There's one way to find out if alcohol is aggravating your PMS: cut out all alcohol, entirely, including wine and beer. After you've been on the PMS Comfort Balance Program, and your symptoms are gone or much better, you can try having some alcohol the following month, and see what happens. If you react right away, no need to continue it for the whole month.

When and if you do indulge, enjoy both chocolate and alcohol in moderation. We think red wine is the healthiest form of alcohol, and dark chocolate is the healthiest form of chocolate. And if you notice that either one keeps you awake at night, piques your moods, or simply doesn't agree with you, it only makes sense to cut back or discontinue altogether.

This article, together with Balance Diet article on What to Eat, forms the foundation of a healthy, PMS-resolving diet. We're excited for you, because equipped with this information you are well on your way to feeling great—today, tomorrow, and all month long.

Real, Natural Relief—So You Can Feel Great All Month Long

PMS and PMDD misery aren't always taken seriously enough by doctors, family, and friends. At PMS Comfort, our whole purpose is to empower and educate you about premenstrual symptoms, and to provide real, natural relief so that you can feel great all month long. Our all-natural doctor-designed programs are based on decades of experience helping thousands of women recover from what you've been going through. Our Herbal Relief formula, when combined with our diet and lifestyle guidance, addresses more than just your symptoms—it can help bring your body and mind back into balance, and help you get and stay healthy. Plus, we're here to support you, every step of the way.

To learn more about your PMS and PMDD symptoms, take the PMS Comfort quiz. Or, start feeling better today, for as little as 89 cents per day.

We want to help. Give us a call at 1-800-731-6327, drop us an e-mail, or send us your question.

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Principal Author: Daniel J. Heller, N.D.
Last Modified: January 9, 2013

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The information and contents contained in this Web site has not been evaluated by the FDA. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or nursing, please consult a physician before taking any dietary supplement. If taking prescription drugs, consult your healthcare practitioner prior to use. You must be 18 years or older to purchase products. Individual results do vary.

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