Periods are bad enough, but when you have to deal with excruciating menstrual pain… well it’s just not fair! Menstrual pain, also known as dysmenorrhea, or menstrual cramps can range in severity from annoying to extreme. Although they are awful, I have some good news for you… research shows that your diet can impact the severity of your menstrual pain. That means that with a few dietary tweaks you may start to feel some improvement.  So here are my 6 research-backed dietary tips for menstrual pain.

Diet and menstrual pain

Research has found a link between diet and menstrual pain, so try these dietary tweaks to improve the severity of your period cramps.

Number 1 – Eat two serves of fruit each day

A study of female students found that those who ate more fruit were less likely to experience period pain.

Number 2 – Make sure that you’re meeting your dairy requirements

Several studies have found that those who consume dairy products are less likely to experience dysmenorrhoea. But, I’d recommend opting for low fat dairy products as one study found that cheese, which is higher in fat than milk or yoghurt, was associated with higher rates of menstrual pain.

Number 3 – Boost your omega 3 intake

Women who have low intakes of omega 3 fats are more likely to have menstrual pain. Furthermore, one small study found that fish oil, which is a rich source of omega 3, was beneficial for menstrual pain relief.

Number 4 – Avoid too much coffee

You may love your lattes, but maybe you should swap to a chai instead? Although not conclusive, research suggests that caffeine, particularly in the form of coffee and soft drinks, tends to exacerbate menstrual cramps in some women.  Just remember, I don’t make the rules, I’m just delivering the research, so don’t hate me!!

Number 5 – Avoid high saturated fat intakes

If you’re like many women you’re guilty of devouring a bar of chocolate or tub of ice cream at the first sign of your period approaching. Well, this routine may be intensifying your period pain. Both of these foods are high in bad saturated fats which have been associated with increased menstrual pain severity, so try to break this habit and treat yourself to a hot bath or early night instead.

Number 6 – Stop skipping meals.

It seems that it’s not just what we eat, but also when we eat. Studies have shown that women who regularly skip meals tend to have more severe menstrual pain than women who don’t.


And, although it’s not a dietary tip, it’s interesting to note that studies have found that women who exercise regularly are less likely to suffer menstrual pain. Exercise can release ‘happy’ hormones such as serotonin and endorphins, which may explain the benefit.

Now, make sure that you let me know in the comments box below which strategy you’re going to try first, and feel free to connect with me on social media.


Melanie McGrice in the kitchen

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