What to Eat on Period Cramps: A Nutritional Guide

by Ella

For many women, menstruation is accompanied by uncomfortable symptoms, with period cramps being one of the most common complaints. These cramps, medically known as dysmenorrhea, can range from mild to severe and significantly impact a woman’s daily life during her menstrual cycle. While over-the-counter pain relievers can offer temporary relief, incorporating certain foods into your diet may also help ease period cramps naturally. In this article, we will explore a comprehensive nutritional guide on what to eat to alleviate menstrual pain and promote overall well-being during your period.

What can cause Period Cramps?

Up to 90% of people who menstruate can experience painful periods, or primary dysmenorrhea, with 15% suffering from severe symptoms that can impact their daily routine.


Cramps during a menstrual period can occur when the muscles and blood vessels of the uterus contract. During menstruation, the body produces hormone-like compounds called prostaglandins in the uterine lining, and the more prostaglandins, the greater the inflammation and cramp severity.


Reducing inflammation through medications like ibuprofen can help, but sometimes, painful periods can be caused by underlying medical conditions like fibroids or endometriosis. Other conditions that can increase cramping with your period include infection, pelvic inflammatory disease, or a non-hormonal IUD that works by producing inflammation.


Foods that might help with cramps

In the run up to the day your period calculator predicts your next period is due, you might start to notice some cramping. For some, it happens every month like clockwork, while for others premenstrual cramping is a bit more sporadic.


Either way, if you’re looking for the best food for period cramps, you’ve come to the right place. The top line? Choose light, healthy fruits and vegetables that won’t be heavy in your stomach. Fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds can help decrease inflammation in the body and can help menstrual cramps.

The great news is the best foods for period cramps can often be found in your fridge! Top health foods on this list are common and great choices when you’re looking for what to eat when you have cramps. There are plenty of foods that might help with menstrual cramps.

If you’re looking to adjust your diet and stock up on foods that might help with cramps, here are some to try:

1. Bananas

Bananas are great for menstrual cramps.

Bananas are generally easy to find and known to be helpful for period cramps. They are rich in fiber and will help you have easy bowel movements. As a result, you may feel less bloated and experience less pain overall. Bananas also contain a lot of magnesium, which is known to reduce the severity of period cramps.

Bananas are also rich in natural sugars, so it’s best to eat them in moderation.

2. Lemons

Lemons are rich in vitamins, particularly vitamin C. Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from your food into your bloodstream and tissues. Because you may be losing more red blood cells than your body can keep up with during your period, it may be helpful to have some extra vitamin C to boost iron absorption. Lemons also contain a lot of fiber, which makes them a good food for preventing muscle spasms.

3. Oranges

Oranges are known as a top food for period cramps. Oranges contain more vitamin C than lemons, and they also contain magnesium, potassium, and vitamin D. In fact, oranges have almost as much of these nutrients as milk. A couple of oranges every day may help relieve period cramps and menstrual pain.

4. Watermelon

Watermelon is light and sweet. You can easily pop it into a blender and create a delicious smoothie. In addition to that, it is mainly water. Watermelon will quickly hydrate your body and add small amounts of natural sugars into your bloodstream, which might help with cramping.

5. Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the top foods that help with menstrual cramps. The fiber and iron in broccoli help fight period cramps. These nutrients might help with all menstrual pain, particularly in your lower abdomen.

6. Kale

Among the other healthy foods that relieve cramps, kale is also a great option. Kale is a good food for period cramps for the same reason as broccoli and other greens: it is rich in calcium and magnesium. Having a calcium deficiency can increase muscle spasms and contractions.

You can saute kale or add it to a smoothie. Either way, this vegetable might help boost your immune system and ease cramping pains.

What makes food so powerful in helping relieve period cramps? Nutrients in certain foods directly affect your hormones, nerves, and muscles. They can have a relaxing effect, which can result in both a better mood and less pain.

Drinks that help with cramps

You can use food to ease muscle spasms, but beverages can be effective as well. Here are a couple of drinks that help with cramps:

1. Water

The number one drink that might help you ease period cramps is water. You lose some of the water in your body when you bleed, and your pain can become worse when your body becomes dehydrated. Drinking enough water might help your muscles relax and help you avoid bloating and gas.

2. Chamomile

Chamomile tea is a great beverage for menstrual cramps. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which further reduce cramping pains. Chamomile tea may also help with your mood, as it has a soothing impact on the nervous system.

3. Ginger tea

In addition to easing cramping pains, ginger tea can also help with nausea and bloating. Ginger is also known to be a good coffee replacement, as it can energize you and help you feel more awake.

4. Raspberry leaf tea

Raspberry leaf tea is not only tasty, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that might help reduce period cramps.

5. Smoothies

Apple and spinach smoothies contain plenty of iron and magnesium, which are both responsible for nourishing the body quickly and relieving cramps and fatigue. During your period, you can experience fatigue, and it’s good to have as many foods as possible that are rich in iron and fiber, like leafy greens.

Magnesium found in bananas and some leafy greens can help relax your muscles, including your uterus. Mixing your favorite period-friendly fruits and veggies into a nourishing smoothie should definitely be on your to-do list.

Foods that can make cramps worse

A lot of foods that you normally eat don’t help with period cramps. Here’s a list of foods that make cramps worse:

1. Canned foods

Canned foods can be high in salt, which causes more bloating and cramping. In addition, they may have fewer nutrients. Refined products can also contain high amounts of unhealthy chemicals used to preserve the foods. So when you’re on your period, stick to healthy, fresh options.

2. Beans

Normally healthy and rich in fiber and vitamins, beans can upset your stomach during your period. It’s better to avoid eating beans or peas during your period and opt for lighter foods instead.

3. Candy

Candy usually doesn’t contain any healthy nutrients, and it’s also packed with sugar. Artificial sugar doesn’t help at all with period cramps. In fact, it can make them worse.

4. Fried foods

It’s better to avoid anything that will upset your stomach because your cramping pains may worsen at the same time. Fried foods are known to upset the stomach and interfere with healthy digestion. During your period, stick to lightly boiled, steamed, or grilled foods.

5. Milk and other dairy products

Milk and other dairy products can generally be healthy options. However, during your period, your body is particularly susceptible to inflammation. The saturated fats in dairy products can trigger inflammation, which can worsen your menstrual pain.

Nevertheless, the calcium in dairy products can help cramps by controlling your muscles’ nerve activity. Calcium deficiencies can increase muscle spasms. Depending on your needs, it might be a good idea to consume dairy products in moderation.

6. Fatty foods

Foods like bacon contain lots of saturated fats, while some substances found in fatty dark meat increase prostaglandins in your body, which constrict blood vessels and make muscles contract. This only induces cramping pains, so it’s better to stick to lean meats instead.

7. Caffeine

Caffeine can worsen pelvic pain before or during your period. It can also stimulate stress and irritability.

Other cramp remedies

Eating and avoiding certain foods isn’t the only action you can take to ease the symptoms of your period. Try these, too:

Exercise. Some evidence suggests that exercise, such as light cardio and yoga, can reduce menstrual cramps.

Hot compresses. Hot water bottles or microwaveable hot compresses can soothe pain in your abdomen and back.

Over-the-counter medication. Ibuprofen and other OTC meds can reduce your cramps.

Massages. Massaging your stomach or your back can reduce menstrual pain. In a small 2010 studyTrusted Source, massages soothed pain in 23 subjects with endometriosis.

When is it time to see a doctor about cramps?

It’s important to seek care if your periods are painful and interfere with your normal activities. Some indicators that it may be worth talking to your doctor or women’s health specialist:

Heat or pain relievers are not working over a three-month time frame.

Pain levels cause you to miss school or work, or prevent you from spending time with friends or going for a walk.

You get your period more often than every 21 days or less often than every 35 days, consistently.

The bleeding lasts more than seven days, or you’re going through a sanitary pad more than every one to two hours, consistently.

Your physician can evaluate you for any underlying cause, such as an infection or fibroids.

FAQs About What to Eat on Period Cramps

Q1. Is there a link between caffeine consumption and increased period cramps?

Some studies suggest that excessive caffeine intake may worsen period cramps. Caffeine can cause vasoconstriction, reducing blood flow to the pelvic region and potentially increasing menstrual pain. However, individual responses to caffeine can vary. If you experience increased discomfort during menstruation, consider reducing caffeine consumption and observing any changes in symptoms.

Q2. Can certain herbal teas or remedies help with menstrual pain?

Yes, some herbal teas and remedies may help alleviate menstrual pain:

a. Chamomile Tea: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties that can relax muscles and ease menstrual cramps.

b. Ginger Tea: Ginger’s natural anti-inflammatory properties may reduce period pain and help soothe an upset stomach.

c. Peppermint Tea: Peppermint can have a calming effect on muscles, potentially easing menstrual cramps.

d. Raspberry Leaf Tea: This herbal tea is believed to tone the uterus and may help reduce menstrual discomfort.

Q3. Should I consider supplements to support menstrual health and ease cramps?

Supplements can be considered to support menstrual health, especially if nutrient intake through food is inadequate. Key supplements that may help ease cramps include:

a. Magnesium: Magnesium supplements can relax muscles and alleviate cramping.

b. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Fish oil or flaxseed oil supplements can provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

c. Vitamin D: Vitamin D supplements may help regulate hormonal imbalances and reduce menstrual pain.

d. Calcium: Calcium supplements can support muscle function and reduce cramping.

Consult with a healthcare professional before starting any supplements to ensure they are appropriate for your individual needs and health status.

Q4. How does a vegan or vegetarian diet impact menstrual pain?

A well-balanced vegan or vegetarian diet can still provide the necessary nutrients to ease menstrual pain. However, vegans and vegetarians should pay particular attention to getting enough iron, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, as these nutrients are often found in animal products. Plant-based sources of iron include lentils, tofu, and dark leafy greens. Vitamin B12 can be obtained from fortified foods or supplements, and omega-3s are found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Ensuring adequate nutrient intake through a varied and balanced vegan or vegetarian diet can support menstrual health and minimize discomfort during menstruation.


While period cramps are a common occurrence for many women, their intensity and impact can vary from person to person. Incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich foods into your diet can potentially alleviate menstrual pain and discomfort naturally. Anti-inflammatory foods, magnesium-rich options, calcium sources, vitamin D, potassium-containing foods, and herbal teas can all play a role in easing period cramps. Additionally, staying hydrated and avoiding trigger foods can further support menstrual well-being.

It’s important to remember that individual responses to foods may vary, and what works for one person may not work for another. If menstrual pain is severe or significantly interferes with your daily life, it’s essential to seek medical advice from a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying conditions and explore personalized treatment options. With a balanced diet, self-care practices, and professional guidance, you can navigate your menstrual cycle with greater ease and well-being.



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