What To Eat When You’re On Your Period

A registered dietitian weighs in on the best food for women to eat when they're on their period.

Unfortunately, almost all women experience the same thing every single month. You know what I’m talking about—that week where you feel like your head will explode, your stomach is in knots and you don’t know if you feel like crying, yelling or laughing. When you have your period, running can be tough and eating healthy can feel even tougher, especially when you’re craving a diet of M&Ms and fries. Like anything else in life, having a solid plan can help you avoid eating poorly and feeling the same afterwards. Incorporate these foods into your meal plan the next time “Aunt Flo” comes to visit.

Iron-rich Foods

When you’re bleeding for days at a time, your body is naturally losing iron. Loss of this vital nutrient can cause severe fatigue. That’s why it’s important to eat plenty of iron-rich foods during your period. Include lots of meat, like red meat and poultry, and plant-based iron sources, such as spinach, red beans and oats.

Water-rich Fruits And Vegetables

As if the headaches and cramps weren’t enough, the incessant bloating many women experience can make you want to wear sweatpants to work. The best way to combat bloat is to stay hydrated. Of course, drinking water is important for hydration, but so are water-rich fruits and vegetables. Add foods like watermelon, celery, cucumbers, kiwis and peppers to your meal plan to increase your water intake and fight the bloat.

Whole Grains

Just because you have your period doesn’t mean you’re going to stay inside all week. As a runner, nothing will stop you from keeping up with your training plan. But since you’re likely to feel more tired than normal, it’s important to fuel properly. Opt for whole grains, which have plenty of fiber and protein to keep you full and provide long-lasting energy. Whole wheat bread is a simple and easy choice, but so are oats, quinoa, brown rice, farro, sorghum, freekeh, popcorn, barley…the list goes on.


Recent research has found that calcium supplements help ease irritability during PMS. While PMS is the pre-period phase, it’s worth boosting your dairy intake during this time of the month, as well. Not only does calcium help with your mood, but the protein in dairy aids in satiety and (hopefully) can keep you from bingeing on an entire bag of gummy worms.

Healthy Fats

Your hormone levels are out of whack the week before your period (during the PMS phase). Luckily, those hormone levels recede when your period finally arrives, which can cause a shift in mood. Incorporating good fats into your diet can help stabilize those mood swings. Opt for foods like salmon, avocado, oils and nuts. As an added bonus, avocados have magnesium, which helps relieve headaches.

Root Vegetables

As you start shedding the lining of your uterine wall, your ovaries are producing more estrogen. That change in hormones can cause cramps and other uncomfortable symptoms, but vitamin A helps your liver process estrogen. Luckily, vitamin A is easy to come by in root vegetables, like sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.


Many women crave chocolate during this time of the month, so you might as well give in to the temptation! Don’t deny yourself to only binge on an entire bag of Hershey kisses while watching a sappy movie late at night. Instead, buy some fun size dark chocolate bars and eat one each day while on your period.


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