Avoid These Foods to Prevent Period Cramps

Cramping is one of the worst period side-effects. If you have to move around during the toughest days of the period (and you most often do), cramping can pose a genuine challenge when it comes to work and commuting.

Some of the foods most women regularly use are known to help alleviate cramping, but some also worsen. Aside from getting the supplies of favorite period foods, it’s important for you to know which are the foods that make cramps worse.

Foods That Make Period Cramps Worse

Foods that are heavy on the stomach and difficult to digest will worsen your cramps, as the uterus is more sensitive to pressure and bloating.

On the other hand, some foods and drinks can directly cause stronger cramps by irritating the uterus. Here are the foods that you should avoid during the period to avoid cramping:

Salty Foods

Salty snacks and menstrual crampsSalty snacks and pastries can cause water retention and bloat. The bloating adds more pressure to a uterus that is already in pain, which causes more cramping and more intense pains.

Every woman’s level of sensitivity is different, and not everyone is sensitive to sodium. Still, if you notice more intense abdominal pain after salty snacks, it’s time to let them go.


Caffeine alerts the nervous system and makes the blood vessels constrict, which isn’t an effect you want during your period. While coffee and black/green tea might do a great job at waking you up in the morning, they will upset your nervous system during the period.

Caffeine will make you overall more tired, nervous, and crabby, as it intervenes with blood supplying tissues with oxygen. Instead, take calming teas, like mint and chamomile.

Refined Sugars

Avoid candy during the period and turn to natural sugars from fruits. Fruits also contain fiber, which will help your digestion and alleviate abdominal pains. On the other hand, refined sugars are inflammatory and tend to increase cramping.

Saturated Fats

Fatty meats and fried foods contain the arachidonic acid, which will induce more cramping by producing prostaglandins. Avoid any type of deep-fried foods, bacon, and fatty meats. Turn to lean meats instead, and boiled or saute your meals instead of frying.

Processed Foods

Canned foods and processed meat are known to contain concerning amounts of salt and other chemicals that serve to preserve the foods. Processed foods, including packaged food and junk food, contain trans fats. These fats cause inflammations which intensify the period cramps.

Refined Grains

White grains, such as white rice and flour, can spike your blood sugar and then cause a sudden crash. Similarly, with eating candy, refined grains during the period will make you feel better for only a while. Soon after you’re done eating, you will feel tired and drained, and your cramps will worsen.

Too Much Dairy

Light yogurt and some cottage cheese are healthy food choices, but overeating on cheese, milk, ice cream, and other dairy products will worsen your bloating and cramping.

Similar to refined sugars and grains, too much dairy causes inflammations that result in more abdominal pain.

What to Eat to Ease Period Cramps

To nourish your body during the period and alleviate cramping, shift to lighter foods. These foods are known to help with cramping and other menstrual symptoms:

  • Lean meats, like turkey and salmon;
  • Leafy greens: spinach, broccoli, kale;
  • Fruits: bananas, apples, oranges, lemons;
  • Herbal teas: mint, chamomile

The rule of thumb is to make your period diet light and easily digestible. Any additives, including all-present sodium, aren’t natural to the human body and will cause cramping. Make sure to supply on light, organic foods, for a more comfortable period.


Karen Haines is a health writer based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She has written for magazines, websites, trade journals, and consumer health publications. Follow Karen on twitter @karehaines

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