Tips for Traveling on Your Period šŸ©ø

Yay for your upcoming trip! āœˆļø You must be sooo excited šŸ˜†, and rightfully so- you deserve to get away. But then again, you just realized your trip coincides with your monthly visit. Wa- waaaaaaaa. šŸ‘ŽšŸ¼šŸ˜© Don’t worry, lady. I got you with these 10 tips below! šŸ‘‡šŸ¼

Our period can entail low energy, cramps, and a desire to curl up on the couch and isolate ourselves from others. When we travel, our period can throw off our regular “flow” of things. Pun intended. I wrote this blog post to help you prepare for traveling while on your period. I hope my tips improve your symptoms, boost your energy levels, and make your trip the best experience it can possibly be- don’t stress boo!

I’m sure that I have before, but I can’t distinctly recall a time that I’ve traveled while on my period. Part of this could be due to having amenorrhea (no period), for 3+ years, but that’s besides the point. This recent 4 1/2 day trip to San Francisco started out on day 1 of my period- of which day 1 and 2 for me are usually accompanied by low energy & fatigue, 1 night of cramps that wake me up in the early morning, temperature changes, and the desire to marry my couch & Netflix it up. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous that air travel, walking 15,000+ steps a day, and drinking and eating different foods than normal would exacerbate these symptoms, but I went ahead and prepared to the best of my ability and chose to remain calm and carry on with a hopeful and positive outlook.

Let me share with you ladies a few things that worked for me and that you can try and prepare for before you travel on your period. āœˆļø šŸš™ šŸš‚ šŸ©ø

1. Pack the Essentials.

Whether you use pads, tampons, menstrual cups or discs, or period panties, pack what you need and then some. I typically use menstrual discs by Flex, and these last for 12 hours without having to change them. FYI: They also claim to reduce cramps for up to 70% of their users. With some of the outfits I wore, I wanted to ensure no leakage, so I also brought tampons as backup. Count what you average per day of your feminine product, then pack that number and some extra for peace of mind that you won’t run out. You can buy more wherever you are (usually), but it’s also nice to not have to worry about finding a nearby drug store. One less thing to worry about.

2. Prepare the defense.

In order to be prepared should symptoms arise, here are some other defense materials to pack:

  • Ibuprofen (this helps with headaches, cramps, and abdominal pain)
  • a heating pad
  • refillable water bottle to stay hydrated on the go
  • electrolyte tabs
  • Magnesium gummies (to ease cramps, tingling legs, headaches, etc)
  • Turmeric Curcumin capsules (to help fight inflammation)
  • Zinc tablets (do not use without RD/PCP approval)
  • Fish Oil capsules (do not use without RD/PCP approval)
  • tea (raspberry leaf, peppermint, green tea, etc.)

3. Hydrate and preload with electrolytes.

Start hydrating 5 days before you travel. Try to consume more water than you normally would (about half your body weight in lbs in oz). Bonus if you drink coconut water with a pinch of salt and/or electrolyte tabs.

4. Absorb magnesium transdermally.

Another way to preload your body with magnesium is by taking a few Epsom Salt baths leading up to your trip to absorb the magnesium transdermally (through your skin directly into your bloodstream). Magnesium oil can also be used on your feet and tummy before or during your trip to quell cramps, headaches, tingling of the extremities and other symptoms.

5. Be mindful of salt and sugar intake on your trip.

While I didn’t restrict on my trip (because vacay mode-duh!), I was mindful not to consume foods too rich in salt or sugar to avoid fueling my cramps. I did drink, but I opted for lower sugar drinks (usually made with gin).

6. Make sure you’re getting enough omega 3s, B vitamins, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc!

These specific nutrients can help reduce period symptoms significantly should you be receiving enough of each. Read my article on “5 Nutrients to Support Your Menstrual Phase” here, and let’s chat about needing to supplement if you don’t receive enough of one of these.

7. Engage in light movement.

There was one night (as expected) when I woke up at 5am EST with moderate cramping. I couldn’t go back to sleep, and I was lying there wide awake in our hotel bed. My husband got up, turned the lights on, and gave me the okay to do my yoga in bed, so that’s exactly what I did.

Even at home, I do this 35-minute Yoga With Adrienne for Women video, and my cramps are usually gone or incredibly diminished by the time I am through. Truly, she’s THAT good. Even if you’re doubled over in pain, this yoga sequence is so gentle and easy on your body, it feels more like stretching and relaxing on pillows than anything. I did this in bed on day 2, and that was the only time I felt cramps. āœŒšŸ¼

In addition, light or moderate movement, such as walking, restorative yoga, stretching, etc. can promote blood flow and ease cramps and symptoms. Do what feels good to you!

8. Try Legs on a Wall to relieve heavy legs and cramping.

Legs on a wall, detailed here, can improve circulation, relieve heavy legs, and improve blood flow to your uterus to minimize cramps, among many other things. It is also very calming and be done nearly everywhere. Give it a go!

9. Remain calm!

Usually, we go on vacation to escape the everyday responsibilities that stress us the F out! Try to embrace this time and let go of everything that is plaguing you. Stressing less and planning/booking things in advance can help make your trip way more enjoyable, not to mention, it can help keep your cortisol and blood sugar levels steady Freddy! This means your symptoms will be easier to manage as well.

10. Have your caffeine with anti-inflammatory support.

Did you know that Midol contains caffeine to help support a woman’s energy levels during her period? It sure does! Look it up. I still need my caffeine to feel good during this time with low energy, but I also don’t want to overdo it…

This wasn’t planned, but I stumbled upon a lovely cafe by our hotel that offered a turmeric honey latte. Days 1 and 2 are usually the worst symptom-wise for me, and excess caffeine can really worsen my cramps and bloating, so I try to be mindful of my intake while still getting my energy boost. When I saw the turmeric latte on the menu, my interest was piqued, so I ordered it with soy milk and a shot of espresso (the best of both worlds!). I was already taking two capsules of turmeric curcumin (the active ingredient in turmeric) to help with inflammation, but I truly believe this beverage also helped start my morning out right.

If you don’t have a shop nearby that offers a turmeric or golden milk latte, you can make your own at your air bnb or go to a coffee shop and ask for warm milk and add your own turmeric, honey, etc. in there. Here is a recipe, but you can also purchase golden milk latte powder for convenience while traveling. The additional shot of espresso helped my energy without being too much to exacerbate my cramps.

Those are my top 10 tips on how to make the most of traveling while on your period. What did you think? Was this helpful? If so, please leave a good review below and/or treat me to my favorite āž”ļø a matcha latte here!

Thank you for your continuous support. For more women’s health info, follow me @feed.me.happy on Instagram.

šŸ’– Danielle

5 Nutrients That Support Your Menstrual Phase

Let me be clear. All nutrients are beneficial and serve their purpose at different times. I am also a big proponent of individualized nutrition based on what a person’s specific needs are. With that said, these 5 nutrients are my personal findings and round up of what can help most women with various symptoms during their menstrual phase.

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that has been shown to reduce symptoms for both PMS and menopause. During your luteal and menstrual phases, a magnesium supplement, foods rich in magnesium, and even magnesium oil or lotion can help relax the smooth muscles of your uterus, decrease inflammatory prostaglandins (the hormone-like lipids that cause contractions and cramps), reduce headaches and breast tenderness, and even help curb sugar cravings.

In terms of hormonal balance, magnesium is needed for the production of TSH, thyroid stimulating hormone, which is responsible for your body’s metabolism. In addition, it aids in blood sugar balance and estrogen detoxification. Women with PCOS are 19 times more likely to be magnesium-deficient, and those with diabetes or an autoimmune disease are also at high risk for deficiency.

Women want to aim for 400mg of magnesium per day.

Here are some food sources rich in magnesium:Ā 

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • soymilk
  • black beans
  • edamame
  • dark chocolate

As for supplements, magnesium in the forms of aspartate, citrate, lactate, and chloride are more bioavailable and readily absorbed than magnesium oxide and sulfate. I was just recommended magnesium oil from Ancient Minerals and will report back after a few months of using it.

Omega 3s

Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with bloating, uterine inflammation, migraines, and even mood swings. In a study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome and irregular periods, an omega 3 supplement was given at 3g/day for 8 weeks. This resulted in decreased elevated testosterone and androgen levels with a regulation of menses in the omega 3 group.

In another study, women took 1,000mg of fish oil/day. The experimental group reported less menstrual pain than the comparative group who took the pain reliever, ibuprofen.

Here are some food sources rich in omega-3s:Ā 

  • fish (salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, and mackerel)
  • nuts and seeds
  • fortified foods (I have been using this Silk oat, almond, and pea milk blend infused with DHA omega-3s!)

Zinc

Supplementing with 30mg of zinc 1-3x daily during your luteal and menstrual phases can significantly reduce (if not manage or eradicate dysmenorrhea- period pain!). Zinc can also block androgen production, such as testosterone, which helps in treating acne and reducing excess facial hair.

Here are some food sources rich in zinc:Ā 

  • oysters
  • shellfish (crab and lobster)
  • red meat (I recommend organic, grass fed and pasture-raised)
  • legumes
  • nuts and seeds- especially pumpkin seeds!
  • eggs
  • whole grains

B vitamins, specifically B6 and B12

It’s a toss up between which B vitamin is more important to focus on. Both B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, which as we know can be rampant during our luteal and menstrual phases. Here are the main contributors of each.

B6 can help regulate periods, so if your cycle is irregular, I would recommend incorporating foods that contain more of this B vitamin. B6 also helps minimize bloating and has the ability to produce amino acids, which is needed more during your bleed for replenishment and to avoid muscle catabolism.

Here are some food sources rich in B6:Ā 

  • pork.
  • poultry, such asĀ chickenĀ or turkey
  • some fish (cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna and snapper)
  • peanuts
  • soyĀ beans
  • wheatgerm
  • oats
  • bananas

B12 largely contributes to red blood cell formation, which is also crucial during this time.Since we are losing blood and iron, new red blood cells are needed to help carry oxygen throughout the body and keep energy levels high.

Here are some food sources rich in B12:Ā 

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • eggs milk

Iron

Last but not least is iron. About 70% of our body’s iron is found in red blood cells. When we bleed during menses, we lose blood and, therefore, red blood cells and iron. It is important to replenish this mineral, as to avoid iron depletion or anemia. Women need approximately 1.8 mg of iron/day. If you donate blood, you lose about 200 mg of iron, and those breastfeeding and postpartum can lose up to 700 mg. Breastfeeding mamas need to increase their iron intake by 0.5-1mg/day.

P.S. Iron is better absorbed in the company of vitamin C, so add peppers, citrus juice, broccoli or tomatoes to your meals with iron-containing foods. Using iron pots can also increase iron levels! We only absorbed 10-30% of iron, so keep that in mind when measuring and accounting for your food.Ā 

Here are some food sources rich in iron:Ā 

  • lean beef
  • veal
  • poultry
  • pork
  • lamb
  • liver
  • fish and shellfish
  • greens
  • tofu
  • lima beans
  • legumes and lentils

Summary

Upping your nutrient consumption game is a great strategy in preventing or treating PMS and menstrual symptoms. From the abundance of research I’ve been doing lately on women’s health (specifically nutrition and phases of the cycle), I found magnesium, omega 3s, zinc, B vitamins (B6 + B12), and iron to be some of the most crucial in alleviating unwanted cramps, headaches, lethargy, acne and more while also replenishing the body with the fuel it needs to process and recover best.

If you have basic nutrition questions, I can answer those for you, but hang on tight for when I become licensed in February to better serve your personal needs. Xo Danielle

Disclaimer:Ā TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

 

5 Nutrients to Support Your Period

Premenstrual and menstrual symptoms can be less than manageable. Heck, I know plenty of women who have such debilitating symptoms, they’ve taken off school or work at some point. That’s crazy. We should be able to use those days for a mental health reset or when we’re actually sick with other illnesses. So, how can we begin to minimize and alleviate these symptoms to save our sick and PTO days?Ā Nutrition is one of the large pieces to completing this puzzle. Let’s take a closer look.

1. Water

Did you know that water is a nutrient? It sure is! It’s okay if you didn’t, but is it that much of a surprise? We NEED water to survive, and our bodies are made of 60-70% of the stuff! When we are properly hydrated during our periods, we decrease our chances of cramping. This is because we aren’t retaining water and decrease bloating. Water can also help with muscle function, which the uterus is! (well, partly).

2. Omega-3s

Consuming foods high in omega 3s (fatty fish like salmon and tuna, flaxseeds, chia seeds, soybeans, etc.) has been proven to reduce menstrual pain, help with depression and mood swings, and is a great support for brain health which may help with lessening the incidence of headaches!Ā¹

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a bright yellow spice known for its unique flavor in Middle Eastern dishes, its anti-inflammatory properties, and its ability to be used as a clothing dye. Ya, it stained my nails from dinner last night…the only downside, but I digress. The antioxidant compound in turmeric is called curcumin. In larger doses, curcumin has been shown to reduce oxidative muscle damage and aid in healing and recovery by decreasing inflammation. This can help with period cramps since the uterus is a muscular organ.

*HOT TIPS* If you don’t like the taste of turmeric, you can purchase a turmeric supplement. Just make sure that black pepper (pepperdine) is present in the formula because it makes it more bioavailable and easier to absorb for us! Same goes for when you are cooking with turmeric or even make a turmeric “golden” latte- add a pinch of pepper!

4. Iron

Iron is the number one nutrient women are deficient in, partially because we lose iron when we menstruate through blood. Here are some great food sources to add to your diet to receive proper amounts of iron:

  • grass-fed beef
  • lentils & legumes
  • shellfish
  • liver & organ meats
  • turkey
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • dark chocolate
  • tofuĀ¹

**HOT TIP** consuming vitamin C increases iron bioavailability. Example: bell peppers with tofu- yum!

5. Magnesium

Studies have shown that magnesium both eases period cramps and decreases the prostaglandins (lipids that act like hormones) that cause those contractions and cramping. So not only does magnesium alleviate the symptoms, but it addresses one of the root causes.

Foods high in magnesium include:

  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • spinach
  • cashews
  • dark chocolate
  • avocado
  • nuts and seeds
  • tofu
  • whole grainsĀ²

Nutrition can greatly influence how our body operates and feels, with menstrual symptoms being no exception. Water, omega 3s, turmeric, iron, and magnesium are nutrients that can aid in cramp and unfavorable symptom reduction. Please consult with your doctor if you are currently taking any medications to avoid food/drug interactions, and feel free to reach out with questions with how to incorporate these into your diet!

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Resources

1.Ferguson, S. (2019, July 16). What to Eat During Your Period: Fish, Leafy Greens, Yogurt, and More. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/what-to-eat-during-period

2.Ā Spritzler, F. (n.d.). 10 Magnesium-Rich Foods That Are Super Healthy. Retrieved August 04, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-foods-high-in-magnesium

Let’s Talk About PMS.

PMS. It is the dreaded acronym to every woman who has ever experienced it. PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome. It is a condition that can alter your emotional, mental, physiological AND physical states. Did you know that PMS symptoms are not normal? I didn’t either up until this past year. I bought into the story we’re told as young girls that PMS is part of it all. This is FALSE! Think about it. Our bodies are so intricately designed to perform on an optimal cellular level to keep us alive. Why would it fail us when it comes to reproductive health?

Pre-, meaning before, and menstrual, meaning your period, means that PMS is experienced the week leading up to your bleed. Signs and symptoms can range from mood swings to extreme physical discomfort. Refer to the list below for the slew of possible signs and symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of PMS

  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • bloating
  • acne
  • abdominal pain or discomfort
  • sore breasts
  • food cravings
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • heightened senses to light, smell, taste
  • skin sensitivity
  • fatigue
  • trouble sleeping
  • depression
  • behavioral changesĀ¹

*Among many others. PMS has been associated with nearly 200 hundred signs and symptoms! Every woman experiences this differently.

On average, 47.8% of women experience chronic PMS symptoms. The highest recorded prevalence rate was 98%.Ā²

These numbers are staggeringly high for a syndrome that shouldn’t be making an appearance at all, let alone every 21 days. So what is the cause of PMS that is plaguing women on a global scale?

Possible Causes of PMS

  • hormonal fluctuations/imbalances
  • neurotransmitter changes
  • anemia
  • endometriosis
  • thyroid disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • connective tissue or rheumatologic diseasesĀ¹
  • eating disorders
  • vitamin or mineral deficiencies

Ways To Treat Symptoms

  1. First and foremost, you know I’m going to suggest reevaluating your diet. Removing or minimizing fast food, foods high in sodium and saturated fats, sugar, caffeine and alcohol should be your first move. It doesn’t sound fun, but let’s focus on what you can ADD to your diet. Adding foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium, and B vitamins have been shown to reduce PMS symptoms.

These foods include:

  • dark chocolate (woohoo! Just make sure it’s over 70% and low in sugar)
  • avocado
  • spinach
  • almonds
  • sunflower seeds
  • salmon
  • wheat germ
  • black cohosh (a medicinal root, also found as a supplement, shown in some studies to help relieve menopause and PMS symptoms)
  • low-sugar yogurt
  • citrus fruits
  • bananas
  • brown rice
  • shellfish
  • legumes

Just to name a few…

2. Secondly, moving your body can help relieve symptoms, boost endorphins, and even metabolize excess estrogen that could be the culprit of some symptoms. Walking or doing light yoga is ideal during this time of your cycle, but you choose a form of movement that feels good for you.

3. Drunk up, buttercup! Staying hydrated can help with bloating, water retention, and abdominal pain. Aim to drink 1mL for every calorie you consume, or from 1,500-2,000mL (1.5-2L) per day.

4. Mayo Clinic suggests acupuncture as an alternative treatment to relieve symptoms.Ā³ (I can’t wait to try this).

5. Reduce stress to decrease cortisol levels, which has an effect on blood sugar and insulin levels. One again, stress management looks different for every individual. Pick a few ways to manage stress that works FOR YOU.

6. Catch those Zzz’s! I’ve said it in many other posts, but sleep is so very important in our overall health and wellbeing. It’s the third pillar of health after diet & exercise. Sleep is when our brains detoxify, which can affect our neurotransmitters! If you recall, neurotransmitter changes (such as a dip in serotonin and dopamine levels) can be one of the root causes of PMS.

6. If holistic measures do not work for you, talking to a doctor about antidepressants, NSAIDs, or diuretics may help those with underlying issues and severe conditions.

Conclusion

If you’ve experienced PMS symptoms and do not want to live with these predictable symptoms anymore, try some of these remedies out. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. I am happy to help, and keep in mind that I’ll be accepting nutrition clients come next Feb/March to help alleviate these issues through food!

Take care. Be safe, and stay healthy, friends! ā¤

Disclaimer: TheĀ medical/healthĀ information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Accordingly, before taking any actions based upon such information, we encourage you to consult with the appropriate professionals. We do not provide any kind ofĀ medical/healthĀ advice. THE USE OR RELIANCE OF ANY INFORMATION CONTAINED ON THIS SITEĀ OR OUR MOBILE APPLICATIONĀ IS SOLELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

References

  1. Higuera, V. (2027, June 05). Premenstrual Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments. Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/health/premenstrual-syndrome
  2. A DM, K S, A D, Sattar K. Epidemiology of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)-A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Study [published correction appears in J Clin Diagn Res. 2015 Jul;9(7):ZZ05].Ā J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(2):106-109. doi:10.7860/JCDR/2014/8024.4021
  3. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). (2020, February 07). Retrieved July 29, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/premenstrual-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20376780