Resolving PMS with diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client name and identifying information changed
Veronica was very distraught when she came in to see me right in the midst of a PMS blowout. Her boyfriend told her that if she didn’t get her PMS under control soon that he would leave her as he couldn’t cope with her mood shifts and unpredictability. She was very upset as you can imagine, but she also knew that something had to be done.
Every month, one to two weeks before her period, she turned into ‘the witch from hell’ (her words – or maybe his). Her symptoms included being super sensitive, teary, angry, up and down with her moods, including bouts of depression and anxiety. She also had excruciating cramping pains at ovulation time and for the first 2 days of her period.
The only time she felt normal was a few days each month at the beginning of each new cycle and her boyfriend’s patience was growing thin (as it was for her boss, but she didn’t care much about that).
Discussions revealed that Veronica had a terrible diet. Breakfast was usually a piece of toast, banana bread or a muffin along with coffee (of course) from the drive-through café and eaten on the drive to work. Some days, she ate nothing for breakfast as she often preferred to sleep till the absolute last minute before flying out the door for work.
For a quick, cheap lunch, she ate oodles of two-minute noodles most days, which suited her busy working day, but not her body. She also craved chocolate when pre-menstrual and ate lots throughout the month, but more when affected.
Veronica was racy in most things that she did, but was exhausted at the same time, driving herself on coffee, chocolate and adrenaline. This alone would be enough to make someone irritable at the best of times let alone when pre-menstrual. The only good meal she had was dinner that her boyfriend cooked for her at night.
We had a serious talk about the importance of good nutrition and how to look after herself, otherwise she was on the way to losing her boyfriend, her job and her health. Even if her job and boyfriend could be replaced, her health would surely deteriorate if she continued with her eating regime. She sobbed with regret, but totally agreed and committed to making the much-needed changes.
Veronica had never been taught how to cook when she lived with her parents, which made things more difficult. But her boyfriend was a good cook, so we asked him for some favours and he was very willing to help by sharing his cooking knowledge and to cook together at night, while also making extra that she could have as leftovers for lunch.
If they had some form of protein food for dinner with veggies, then she had some of this protein with salad for lunch. For breakfasts she had a paleo style muesli with coconut milk so she could get extra nutrients in a quick and easy to eat blend. Some days she had a super smoothie to take to work if she was running late. She had to get out of bed a little earlier most days, but it didn’t take too long for her energy level to improve and not need the extra sleep.
Basically, Veronicas diet was gluten, dairy and sugar free. Her foods were fibre rich to help support good bacteria in her gut and her meals were simple but tasty. To help repair her gut, we also included a bone broth that they made up together on weekends, which she drank from a ‘thermos’ during the day instead of coffee and cola drinks.
By her next period her symptoms had improved by 50%. She was in a better relationship with her partner as they shared jobs, like shopping and preparing meals together. This was very bonding for them both.