Do you feel bloated after eating a meal? And is this situation worse during the week before your period? If so, you’re certainly not alone. I used to have terrible PMS bloating. After eating a meal, I’d feel sluggish, sleepy and just plain lousy – sometimes I was left nearly unconscious. But I don’t have PMS bloating at all anymore. Thankfully I figured out the root cause of my PMS bloating and fixed it.
If you’ve been reading my posts, perhaps you’ll remember that I often mention the liver as the organ primarily responsible for regulating our moods and menstrual cycles. But the liver also plays an important role in digestion.
An overworked liver, due to poor diet, stress and environmental factors, can weaken digestion, causing fatigue, bloating, nausea, loose stools or diarrhea. And these symptoms tend to show up premenstrually when the liver has to take on the additional role of regulating menstruation.
There are two main strategies you can employ to stop PMS bloating: one is to be kind to your liver; the other is to strengthen your digestion. In this post, I’ll share with you a few tips that have helped me on my journey to overcome PMS, including PMS bloating.
1. Have a green diet.
The liver and gallbladder play important roles in digesting fats. So if you eat a lot of greasy and processed foods, this will inevitably place an extra burden on the liver and gallbladder. Alcohol, drugs, medications and environmental toxins such as xenoestrogens are also not very liver-friendly.
So eating a clean and green diet is being kind to your liver. And when I say green, I mean it literally. In Chinese medicine, green is the color associated with the liver. Green-colored foods such as leafy green vegetables, mung beans and split peas are all very beneficial to the liver.
Sour taste also calms the liver. If you don’t believe me, try it out for yourself. The next time you get irritable or frustrated, try adding a teaspoon of vinegar and honey to a glass of water and drink it down. This will help cool the nerves a little. Let me know your reaction.
2. Make sure you get good sleep between 11pm and 3am.
This is the time when the liver and gallbladder close up shop and regenerate themselves. If you don’t get yourself to bed and have some good sleep between these hours, your liver’s ability to detoxify and regulate moods and menstruation will be compromised. The result? You’ll likely to feel tired and irritable the next day. Your appetite may also be affected.
And of course if you’re one of those night owls who likes to stay up late regularly, your mood, energy level, menstruation and digestion will inevitably be effected.
3. Manage your emotions, especially irritation, frustration and anger.
These are emotions associated with the liver, and it’s a two-way street. If your liver is overworked, you tend to manifest these emotions more easily. Vice versa, if you tend to experience these emotions regularly, they’ll harm your liver.
I find that when I establish a structure and rhythm in my day, I tend not to feel as stressed or frustrated as easily. This means establishing certain rituals that help anchor my day. For example, I meditate every morning, go to yoga 2-3 times a week, try to take a 5-minute break after working for 25 minutes, and almost always go to bed by 11pm.
4. Establish an intimate relationship with your foods.
PMS bloating is a result of poor digestion. This means either you’re eating the wrong kinds of foods – foods your body has difficulty digesting – or your digestion is so weakened that it needs some extra help.
Here are a few tips to consider:
Keep a food journal and make note if you tend to feel bloated after eating certain types of foods. If so, try to avoid these foods altogether or reduce the consumption of them, and see if this improves your digestion.
Eat at regular times. And when you eat, try to establish a more intimate relationship with your food. Look at it, appreciate it, smell it and savor it. Eat slowly and mindfully. Other good practices include finishing eating when you’re 80% full, and finishing your last meal at least 2-3 hours before bedtime. When you cultivate a healthier relationship with the foods you eat, your digestion will improve.
Also, if you tend to have PMS bloating, try to eat well-cooked foods such as soups and stews or juices. It takes digestive fire to break down foods. These cooking methods help break down foods for you, and are generally easier on your digestive system.
5. Eat foods that strengthen your digestion.
Yellow and orange-colored foods are particularly good for the digestive system. Some of these foods are quite yummy too. My favorites include pumpkin, squash and sweet potatoes. Maybe consider adding them to your diet?
Another excellent food I recommend for PMS bloating is barley. It’s a Chinese food herb that strengthens digestion and is good for issues such as bloating, diarrhea or vomiting. You can make barley porridge, add some barley to your stews, or drink roasted barley tea – which I personally enjoy with great pleasure.
6. Rub your belly.
Here’s a simple massage that can help strengthen digestion and reproductive health. Place your right palm on your belly and gently make circles around your belly button in a clockwise fashion. First start with smaller circles close to your belly button, and then gradually make bigger and bigger circles. Do this 100 times after your main meal and see how you feel.
The suggestions I’ve just outlined helped me stop my PMS bloating, and I’m certain they can help you too. Hopefully you’ve already identified one or two you can apply to your own situation to bring some quick and much-needed relief. If so, which are you going to try first?
I wrote this post because last week a Cycle Harmony sister asked me a question about how to stop PMS bloating. I always believe in the power of sharing and learning from one another. So if you have a tip to share, please leave a comment below. Please also feel free to email me and ask me a question that you’d like to explore. It just may be the topic of my next post 😉