So you are at a department store trying on a pair of jeans. But the size you usually fit into just won’t fit around your belly and you can’t even zip them up. What’s going on here? You guessed it, premenstrual bloating. Are we having fun yet? Like a lot of women you probably have jeans in several sizes in your closet including the skinny jeans you aspire to get into, the comfy jeans you wear most of the time, and the slightly larger expandable at the waist jeans for the days when your midsection blows up like a balloon. In this post we are going to discuss ways you can beat premenstrual bloat. In addition we are going to talk about when bloating indicates a more serious cause.
The bloating you get during the week or so before your period is usually caused by water retention. It is also possible that your hormonal fluctuations can cause some digestive issues including excess gas or constipation. A rounder mid-section during this time can also mean that you gained a few pounds due to premenstrual hunger pangs. Whatever the cause, here are some ways to decrease your bloating during your cycle.
I know this is probably the last thing you feel like doing before your period but regular exercise can do at least a couple of things to help decrease bloating. For one, it can help keep your weight under control and it can also prevent constipation. People who are more sedentary tend to pack on the pounds and have a more sluggish digestive system.
- Skip the salt
You may crave salty chips and other salt laden snacks before your period but try to not give in to those cravings as salt can cause you to retain water weight. In addition, using excess salt in our diet has been blamed for contributing to serious medical conditions such as heart disease.
- Eat small frequent meals instead of a few larger meals
This was the medical advice I just received the other day from my doctor when I complained about bloating. Although my bloating is caused by a malfunctioning gallbladder, the advice is still good for premenstrual bloating as well. The hypothesis behind this suggestion is that it makes it easier on your digestive system when you are supplying it with food throughout the day as opposed to a few meals. This not only reduces the risk of indigestion but it also reduces the chance that your body will hoard calories. Some say that small frequent meals will also curb those premenstrual cravings for carbs, sweets, and salty snacks. Make sure that your frequent (4-6) meals are small and healthy.
- Limit the use of artificial sweeteners
There are some people who have difficulty digesting artificial sweeteners which can result in both gas and diarrhea. A lot of these artificial sweeteners can be found in things like sugar-free gum. In addition to the artificial sweetener upping the chance for gas production, the act of chewing and swallowing air can also add to your bloat. One of our writers, My Bariatric Life, has just written a post on some of the potential health problems associated with using artificial sweeteners that you may wish to read.
- Increase your fiber intake
Most of us don’t get enough fiber in our diets and the result can be bloating and constipation. One precaution about adding fiber to your diet is that it can cause bloating if you don’t also increase your fluid intake. Make sure that you are drinking plenty of fluids (8 glasses of water, for example, per day). Fiber will make you feel fuller faster so that you are not increasing your calorie intake and it also can improve your digestion. The recommendation is to gradually increase your intake of fiber over the course of several weeks to prevent any tummy troubles. Vegetables, fruits, lentils, seeds, and nuts are great sources of fiber.
For more information on fiber please refer to the following Health Central articles:
Premenstrual bloating is an issue most women deal with during the course of their lifetime. But sometimes bloating is a symptom of a more serious problem. If you find that your bloating is not going away over the course of two weeks or more and that you are experiencing both pain and pressure along with your bloating, it is strongly suggested that you see your doctor. Bloating can also be a symptom of the following medical conditions:
If your bloating becomes an on-going problem for you, you may wish to keep a log of when this symptom occurs and under which conditions. Does it regularly occur right before your period and then subside when you get your period? Does it happen after eating certain foods? Does it wake you up at a night? Does it matter which position you are in as in standing up or laying down? Is the bloating located in your lower belly or does it feel like pressure under your right rib cage? Are you having constipation and/or diarrhea with the bloating? If you see your doctor they will want to know the answers to these sorts of questions.
If you have any tips or suggestions to add to our list of ways to beat the bloat we would be glad to hear them in a comment to this post.
I am a mother, a writer, and now an MS patient