I’m going to open the kimono a bit today. That’s one of my favorite expressions to say when someone (or me) shares too much.

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but seeing as how it’s that time of the month again and I’m on the couch with a heating pad, I figured right now would be good. Aunt Flo has arrived–yet again.

Aunt Flo

According to WebMD, 85 percent of women experience at least one of the following symptoms: bloating, headaches, mood swings, anxiety, back pain, breast swelling, cramping, irritable bowl movements, weight gain, food cravings, anxiety and more. And for two out of 10 women, those symptoms are severe. I’ve been there before…spending the night curled around my heating pad. And it seems like my symptoms have gotten worse since I turned 40.

So, here are five ways I deal with PMS. I hope they help you keep Aunt Flo from completely kicking your butt.

Stay Active

During your period, you won’t feel like pushing it to your limit and nor should you. This is the time for light to moderate exercise like dancing, slow jogging, a brisk walk-anything aerobic-for about 30 minutes each day. Swimming is a great form of exercise that is easy on the joints and a fantastic way to move without putting more pressure on your body. Yoga is also a great way to stretch out any back pain or neck aches. Try a class or, if you don’t feel like being around people, pop in a DVD at home. The good news? Even if working out doesn’t totally get rid of the symptoms that occur during your periods, your amped up level of activity will help you control your weight and reduce stress.

Change Your Diet

Changing your diet to a healthier one can make a difference in your PMS symptoms. Up your intake of fruits, veggies, and whole grains and cut back on sugar, artificial sweeteners, fat, and salt. Calcium and Vitamin D are essential nutrients to help reduce symptoms. Vitamin D may influence emotional changes and calcium works in the brain to relieve depressive symptoms or anxiety. Get high-quality calcium from foods like Greek yogurt and broccoli and Vitamin D from foods like salmon and fortified milk. Of course, you need adequate calcium and vitamin D for many other health reasons, including the health of your bones. Curbing PMS may be a fringe benefit.

Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol and caffeine can both contribute to the PMS roller coaster. It’s best to limit alcoholic drinks, as well as food and beverages with caffeine like tea, coffee, cocoa and even chocolate (yeah, I know … ) throughout your cycle.


Just relax. It’s easy to say, but harder to do for so many people. But it’s definitely worth the effort-even beyond managing PMS. Consider yoga, deep breathing, or meditation. Stretching techniques such as yoga or tai chi can help you relax and will soothe aching muscles and joints. Acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care could also help you ease PMS symptoms.

Cut Down on Cravings

During the time leading up to your periods, you may yourself craving salty, sweet fatty or fatty protein foods. Too much fatty food can lead to weight gain and other unhealthy consequences, so there are two good reasons to eat less of it. Getting more whole grain complex carbohydrates in your diet can help you control these cravings by keeping your glucose levels steady. Eating regularly-about every four hours-will also help you manage your glucose levels and keep your metabolism stoked.

Don’t Ignore Other Lifestyle Habits

Feeling tired is yet another sign of PMS, so you might need more sleep than usual. Lastly, ditch the butts if you’re a smoker. A recent study showed that smoking–especially in your teens or early 20s–could increase your risk for moderate to severe PMS.

And of course, there’s always my “go to” remedies: Midol and the heating pad.

What are your “go to” remedies? Please share in the comments below!

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