A Holistic Approach to Healing PMS Naturally

I teamed up with Carolina Rodriguez Barros from Dare to Glow to take a more holistic view on PMS or Premenstrual Symptoms.

This is an important subject because about 85% of women experience some form of PMS and actually consider it normal to have to suffer every time they get their period.

Pain-free periods can become a reality by taking a holistic view of this time of month, examining the emotional and spiritual aspects linked to embracing your cycle as well as changes you can make to your relationship to your body and what you eat.

IMG_3471FOOD: NOURISH YOUR BODY IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY

You don’t need to eat a perfect diet – try instead to aim for at least 80% healthy foods and fully enjoy the 20% of less healthy foods you allow yourself. Here are some ways to work up to that 80%!

EAT THE RIGHT FATS

Eating enough of the right fats while avoiding harmful fats is essential to hormonal balance.

Increase good fats such as avocados, olive oil, raw & unsalted nuts and seeds, flaxseed oil, coconut products and oily fish such as salmon and sardines.

Eat the best quality animal products you can find and afford: For example, make sure your beef was grass-fed and your eggs come from chicken who live outside and eat their natural diet.

Fats to avoid or reduce as much as possible include trans fats or processed hydrogenated vegetable oils found in deep-fried foods, processed and take away food, margarine and pre-packaged cakes and cookies with long shelf lives. Use real butter instead of margarine!

And no, fats don’t make you fat – at least not the right ones.

REDUCE SUGAR

This includes refined carbohydrates (white flour & white sugar), soda (including diet sodas) and refined sugars. Get your sugar from natural sources like fruit and when you need something sweet, opt for natural sweeteners like dates, maple syrup or honey.

UPGRADE YOUR SALT

Change your regular table salt to unrefined salt which is full of beneficial minerals and should be a little grey or pink in color rather than white.

EAT MORE MAGNESIUM & IRON RICH FOODS

Magnesium and iron reduce headaches and increase energy levels.

Foods rich in both include green leafy vegetables, beetroot, legumes, nuts, seeds, seafood and pastured red meat.

Magnesium is known as a natural relaxant and can be found in cacao/dark chocolate -one of the reasons women crave chocolate before their periods! Try to choose chocolate that is at least 70% cacao or make your own recipes using raw cacao.

REDUCE CAFFEINE

Caffeine is strongly linked to painful, lumpy breasts. Often, coffee is just a habit or a pretext to take a break and replacing it with another habit, like a herbal tea, can be very effective.

REDUCE ALCOHOL

Drinking too much alcohol depletes your body of B vitamins and magnesium which makes you more prone to depression. Try to make alcohol an occasional treat only and when you are out, drink a glass of water between each glass of alcohol to pace yourself.

MAKE SURE YOUR BOWELS ARE WORKING WELL

Having a healthy digestion ensures hormones are eliminated from the body. You should be having a bowel movement 1-3 times a day.

If things are sluggish, try increasing foods high in fiber such as whole grains (millet, quinoa, brown rice), chia seeds, hemp seeds, ground flaxseeds, fruits and vegetables.

GO EASY ON THE DAIRY

For some women, reducing dairy, especially in the 2 weeks before their period, can be very helpful in managing symptoms of PMS. When it comes to choosing dairy, always make sure you eat organic, full-fat dairy and avoid fruit yoghurt which is filled with sugar. Add your own fruit to natural yoghurt instead.

Discover delicious milk alternatives such as almond milk, rice milk, quinoa or oat milk which can be found in the non-refrigerated milk section of most supermarkets now. Be careful not to replace dairy with too many soy products like soy milk or tofu though. Unfermented forms of soy tend to be highly processed and mimic the effect of estrogen in the body, leading to hormonal imbalance.

You can discover delicious dairy alternatives at my upcoming workshop in Geneva.

Photo: ©Dare to Glow by Undine Groeger

Photo: ©Dare to Glow by Undine Groeger

MINDFULNESS: START BY ACCEPTING YOUR CYCLE

Many women actually reject the menstrual cycle they experience every month.

They may feel ashamed, sick, tired and because they hate having their period, they try to avoid any symptom that comes with menstruation. This attitude is often passed down across many generations, and talking about menstruation is a taboo within the family and society in general.

Yet these painful memories, negative thoughts and emotions simply reinforce the physical pain that a woman is experiencing every month.

Additionally, living and working in a society that expects women to be emotionally and mentally consistent all month subtly forces women to adapt to these expectations.

Yet on a biological and physical level, women change every day and resisting these natural fluctuations in our cycle by trying to adapt to societal expectations of stability leads to emotional and mentally exhaustion which merely increases physical pain.

One of the practices of the Self-Actualized Woman involves embracing her womb and cyclical nature to better live up to her potential every month, every day.

Practice : A simple visualization to ease the PMS is the base of the Self Actualized Woman’s practice – get it here.

BODY WORK: HONOR YOUR BODY

Many women who experience PMS tend to ignore the bodily experience of the cycle and its signs of heaviness, tiredness, low blood pressure, irritability. They force themselves to  push through these sensations and keep going as usual.

By doing this, they forget that their bodies are cyclical in nature and beautifully adapted to accommodate the bleeding phase of our cycle. In the days leading up to this time and during menstruation, a woman’s womb can almost double in size, expanding from the size of a fist to a fist and a half or more. With these physical changes, it makes sense that the body becomes “bloated” and the abdomen area expands.

Due to the flat stomach obsession in our culture, many women reject and hate their stomach even more during this time, blaming themselves when normal clothes do not fit or become uncomfortable.

Instead of cursing your less-than-flat stomach, consider that your body is merely asking you to slow down and listen, preparing you to withdraw from demanding physical activities and sport.

By honoring your body’s needs and giving it the rest it needs during this time, you will be able to reduce PMS.

The aim of any physical activity during this phase of the cycle is to create the best possible environment for nature to follow its course and bring into balance any disturbances, mental or physical, which may occur in the days before or during menstruation.

For example, the following poses work against the nature of menstruation: Inverted postures, backbends, closed twists and strong abdominal contractions.

Practice: Discover Body Work that reduces PMS get it here.

So where do you start with all these suggestions? Start with whichever point speaks to you most and take it from there, making one small change at a time.

Carolina_Contact_2014This blog post was co-written with Carolina Rodriguez Barros. She founded Dare to Glow in 2009 and now devotes her time to guiding dynamic professional women, helping them tap into their inner source of power, purpose and possibilities.

If you are trying to deal with PMS, these programs might be particularly interesting:

Womb Healing: Awakening to a conscious femininity through liberating old womb memories – find out more here.

Embrace Your Cyclic Nature: The Self Actualized Woman cycle starts again in July in Geneva, read more here.

 

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