We all know that our diet is a huge factor in our overall health – that’s a given. But did you know how much your diet can affect the menstrual symptoms you experience?
Whilst fried foods and sweet snacks may seem like the best and most rewarding things to indulge in during your period, they’re more than likely some of the worst dietary choices you could make, worsening side effects like cramping and tiredness – whereas a select number of superfoods can help combat them. To help you decide what to reach for at that time of the month, we’ve put together a list of our top snacks to eat when you’re on your period.
Tackling dehydration and tiredness with fruit and veg
Fruits and vegetables are a primary source of all-important vitamins and nutrients in our everyday diets – and this importance isn’t lost during menstruation. Whilst studies suggest that simply eating ‘more’ fruit and veg is a great way to tackle period cramps and pain, some of these superfoods are more helpful than others.
Fruits rich in water, including watermelon and cucumber, are great for helping ensure you stay hydrated, whilst sweet fruits such as strawberries and melons can satiate your sugar cravings with natural sugar – a great alternative to refined sugar – helping avoid crashes, and keep your energy levels more consistent. Why not put together a platter of your favourite sweet fruits, or pair some cucumber and hummus for a tasty, filling, and hydrating snack?
In addition to this, leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach are excellent sources of iron, helping combat fatigue, pain, and dizziness. They’re great as part of a salad or blended into a delicious homemade (or store-bought) smoothie. We’ll talk more about iron later.
Reducing inflammation and pain with Snacks High in Omega-3 fatty acids
Foods and supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids including fish, grains and seeds, and fortified foods such as some yoghurts, juices, milk, and soy beverages are noted to help reduce inflammation in the body and have been suggested by some studies as a good method for tackling period pain. In one study where participants experiencing periods were given Omega-3 supplements, (50% were given placebos), those taking supplements noted reduced inflammation and pain.
Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids include salmon, tuna, and sardines, whilst commonly available seeds and nuts include flaxseed (and flaxseed oil), chia seeds, and walnuts. Whilst Omega-3 may be a little harder to find as an ingredient in off-the-shelf snacks, it’s an easy element to include in a home-cooked meal or handmade snack, and is easily sourced in fish oil supplements. Why not include chia seeds in a greek yoghurt dish, or help yourself to some unsalted peanuts? Peanut butter and apple slices are a firm favourite healthy snack in our office.
Decreasing the risk of anaemia and combatting fatigue with Snacks High in Iron
Periods are widely known to cause a temporary reduction in iron levels as a result of blood loss. This can cause fatigue and faintness in those with regular periods, however, for those with consistently heavy periods, significantly more iron is lost, potentially leading to more serious symptoms and even anaemia.
A number of studies have found that participants intaking iron through food (particularly plant-based foods) generally experience less menstrual-related symptoms than participants consuming less or none.
Foods high in iron include iron, beef, fortified cereals and grains, tofu, beans, leafy greens such as spinach, sardines, and even dark chocolate.
Though there are many iron-rich foods and snacks available perfect for combatting tiredness, cramping, and low mood, we believe that beef jerky is one of the easiest, best-tasting, and (depending on the type you choose) healthiest go-to snacks for when you’re on your period.
Why is Iron So Important?
Before we get into the good stuff on why healthy beef jerky is our favourite period snack, we should probably cover why exactly iron is so important to you and your body. Spoiler alert – there’s a huge list of reasons and we could go on forever. To save you the eye strain, we’ve narrowed it down to three main points.
Iron is an essential element in making sure your cells get the oxygen they need to function correctly. If your iron intake is too low, you’ll likely suffer from tiredness and fatigue. Luckily, slight deficiencies in iron leading to tiredness can be tackled by including more high-iron food in your diet. This change should help raise and sustain energy levels – though medical guidance should always be sought in the case of iron deficiency.
As we mentioned before, iron helps carry oxygen to all areas of the body – this includes the brain. If your brain is deprived of oxygen as a result of low iron levels, your cognitive functioning may be impacted negatively, making focusing and learning more difficult.
Iron is an essential element in fighting inflammation and pain – both general, and that brought around as a result of your period.
Why Beef Jerky is Our Favourite Healthy Period Snack
Healthy beef jerky is a perfect snack for anyone in need of a boost in iron and nutrients. Acting as a great source of immune-system and energy-boosting iron and zinc. One serving of this tasty snack can make up a significant portion of the recommended 18mg per day allowance for women.
The benefits don’t end there. Beef Jerky, as a high-protein food, is proven to be very filling, helping curb your cravings and fuel your day with constant slow-burn energy. Believe it or not, there’s an official scale for measuring the filling effect of foods! It’s called the satiety index.
Studies have shown that protein is the most filling macronutrient, meaning healthy protein snacks like jerky is one of the best options if you’re looking to fill up.
Oh, and thirdly, it’s genuinely tasty. You can’t beat that.
Choose Wisely: Healthy Beef Jerky Brands
Of course, some varieties of beef jerky are healthier, or better for combatting period symptoms than others. All-natural varieties providing lower levels of fat and sodium are always your best bet. (Consuming too much salt can lead to water retention, bloating, and discomfort – so varieties of beef jerky high in salt should be avoided).
Tuddys range of healthy beef jerky made using only natural ingredients and grass-fed British beef. Our iron-filled, protein-packed snacks are designed to provide the perfect nutritional boost to anyone, from commuters snacking on the go to those on their period and low on iron. We work to get the most out of our ingredients, using minimal processing and maximum quality to deliver the healthiest (and tastiest) possible snacks from Tuddys HQ straight to you. If you’d like to shop our range of healthy snacks, click here.
Making the right food choices during and even outside of your period really can help tackle some of the most common, and most hated symptoms – from tiredness to cramping and inflammation. Whether you opt for an iron-rich snack like dark chocolate, an omega-3 rich fish dish, or our personal favourite, nutrient-packed beef jerky, we can guarantee there’s a snack out there for you.