Junk Food: How Does It Affect Your Menstrual Health?
- 5 Mins Read
- Written by: Rama Manikumar
- Period cravings are common and one often succumbs to junk food to satisfy them
- The side effects of junk food on menstrual health are many
- Read more about how junk food affects menstrual and overall health
- Find healthier alternatives to junk food during your periods so you minimize the side effects
Almost every woman is guilty of craving chocolate brownies, fries, pizza, and ice cream during their period days. The question is: can a poor diet affect your period? As satisfying as they are, such junk food can seriously affect your overall as well as menstrual health. So what are the junk diet effects on the menstrual cycle?
Apart from being a treat for your taste buds, these foods provide no nutritional benefit for your body. Think about it: during your periods, the uterine lining is shed and re-built. This process consumes a lot of energy and puts your body under a lot of strain. You need proper nutrition to accommodate this.
Let us take a look at the effects of eating junk food and how it affects your menstrual health.
That gooey chocolate bar you had or that milkshake you gulped down has little to no nutritional benefits. Such foods are high in sugar, calories, and fat and are perhaps the worst foods to eat during your period.
It is common knowledge that your diet must contain an adequate amount of nutrients for the proper functioning of hormones. A hormonal imbalance during your periods will put you at risk of cramps, pain, mood swings, and irritability.
Did you know? Girls who had high and frequent consumption of junk food had longer periods as compared to girls who ate a balanced diet. Studies have shown that the duration of your periods can increase by up to 7 days because of junk food.
Period Problems Galore
Period problems like dysmenorrhea and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) are very common in premenopausal women. Such conditions affect your physical and mental well-being. Constantly consuming junk food only puts you at greater risk of dysmenorrhea and PMS. Furthermore, studies have shown that junk food also can increase the incidence of PCOS in women.
Now that you’ve got a grasp of the various negative effects that junk food has on your period health, let us look at what exactly causes them.
Foods to avoid while on period
Say Sugar, Say Inflammation!
That brownie you gobbled up is not only packed with calories but also is loaded with refined sugar. One might ask what’s the harm in eating a bar of chocolate or a brownie? The answer is inflammation!
Foods that contain high amounts of refined sugar are known to cause or worsen inflammation in the body and should be high on your list of things not to eat on your period.
During your periods, your body is already prone to inflammation. Having a high sugar diet will further worsen it and put you at risk of cramps, bloating, and period pains.
As mentioned before, fast food like burgers, fries, pizzas, and ice creams provide little to no nutritional benefit. Being devoid of micronutrients like vitamins, potassium, calcium, zinc, etc. these foods feature in every list of foods to avoid while on period.
Vitamins and minerals are essential to the body for the proper production and release of hormones. Apart from this, due to the blood loss during your period, your body needs additional amounts of iron.
A lack of these will leave you moody, fatigued, and irritated throughout your period days. Skip junk food for a problem-free period!
Sodium-The crampy culprit
Hankering for some French fries or chicken nuggets? Stop! These foods contain high amounts of sodium, and is a no-go in the list of junk foods we should avoid. Studies suggest that a high sodium intake during your periods can lead to bloating and cramping.
Having such foods leads to a spike in sodium levels in the body. Sodium promotes water retention and increases your blood pressure. This may lead to bloating, cramps, and an overall feeling of lethargy during your periods. Quit sodium-rich junk food for a cramp-free period!
Alternatives to your favorite junk foods
We hope that the article so far has highlighted the harmful effects of junk food or the ingredients that cause them.
But how do you deal with your period cravings? Good news! There are many alternatives to your favorite foods. Read on to find out about some alternatives to your favorite foods that you can include in your list of diet and healthy food!
- Craving something sweet after your meal? Ditch those desserts that are loaded with sugars and calories for dark chocolate. Being rich in antioxidants vitamins and minerals, dark chocolate is a great alternative for cookies, brownies, or any other dessert of your preference!
- Are you an ice cream lover? Then this alternative will suit you best. Frozen or refrigerated Greek yogurt is a great alternative to ice cream since it provides similar satisfaction in terms of taste and also provides essential nutrients. It is rich in protein and calcium which work wonders for your period health. Combine it with fruits like berries and some nuts, you get a nutrient-packed treat that is a delight for your tongue and period health!
Read more: Breakfast Recipes For Good Menstrual health
Fries with a twist!
Hankering for something savory? Don’t worry, we have got you covered! Replace the potatoes with sweet potatoes for making French fries. Sweet potatoes are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Try this substitute for a healthy period.
Grab some popcorn!
Popcorn is a great substitute for those chips that are full of calories and fats. Popcorn is a great snack you can have that is rich in fiber and antioxidants. It has also been linked to better blood circulation and better digestive health. The only precaution you have to take is to go easy on the salt. Have a bowl of popcorn whenever you feel like snacking on something savory!
Multigrain bread for a wholesome period!
Burgers or sandwiches are your comfort foods? Try using multigrain bread instead of regular bread/buns. What’s the benefit? Multigrain bread is high in fiber and antioxidants. Apart from this, they contain adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals. Try multigrain bread sandwiches for a wholesome period!
Period cravings are a known evil, but giving in to them can seriously hamper your menstrual health. After all, junk food affects the menstrual cycle in multiple ways, often leading to excessive bleeding, longer periods, mood swings, and nutrient deficiencies.
- Shinde P et al. Effects of junk food/fast food study. International. Ayurvedic Medical. 2017;2(1).
- What to eat during your periods to relieve symptoms. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/what-to-eat-on-your-period
- Menstruation and nutrition. Available from: https://www.ed.ac.uk/centre-reproductive-health/hope/menstruation-and-nutrition
- Popcorn as a snack: Healthy hit or dietary horror show? Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/06/18/popcorn-as-a-snack-healthy-hit-or-dietary-horror-show