A diet can have a huge effect on your menstrual cycle, but dieting on your period can cause some disruption on your hormones causing irregular periods and PMS syndromes.
So, can poor diet cause irregular periods? Let’s find out.
Does dieting affect your period?
Limiting your calorie intake, and restrictive diets can prevent your body from getting enough nutrients to meet your hormonal needs. With a period diet, the body can go into starvation mode, using nutrients for other vital areas such as your brain and heart. This can result in missed or irregular periods.
Diet and your period
Our diet affects our menstrual cycle, whether we are dieting or not. A healthy period diet is one of the best things for a healthy menstrual cycle! If you are restricting your calorie intake and not meeting your nutritional needs, it causes more harm than good. It’s all about balance. Eating a very poor diet can contribute to PMS and symptoms of oestrogen dominance, so eating balanced period diet food can be very beneficial for your hormones.
When does a period diet have negative effects on your cycles?
1. Not eating enough calories
If you are dieting to lose weight and are not getting enough calories to meet your daily needs, this means you are also not getting enough nutrients to meet your hormonal needs.
2. Yo-yo dieting
When we have an erratic intake of food, eating healthily for a few days, and then hitting a big binge of fatty, processed or sugary foods, it sends very mixed signals to our hormonal system and often causes irregular periods and symptoms of PMS.
For some women, maintaining a healthy diet is easy for most of their cycle but, during the days leading up to their period, PMS symptoms and junk food cravings rear their annoying heads. Throwing all caution to the wind, we might feed our cravings but this, in turn, has a negative effect on our periods, worsening PMS symptoms.
3. Eating disorders
When dieting becomes obsessive to a level that feels unhealthy it may be considered an eating disorder. Anorexia nervosa is often associated with the same amenorrhea, or lack of period, as those with very low nutritional intake due to an unhealthy diet. Those suffering from bulimia nervosa experience many of the same hormonal problems as yo-yo dieters. It is really important if you are suffering from any kind of eating disorder to seek the appropriate support from a therapist or support group.
How can diet have a positive effect on your period?
While dieting can have a negative effect on the menstrual cycle, it is important to eat well and maintain healthy body weight to keep your hormones happy. If you are obese, losing weight may help you to see a reduction in PMS and help your cycle to be more regular and less heavy. That being said, unhealthy diets with low levels of nutrition are unhealthy for all women’s menstrual cycles.
The pressure on women to be thin, this dieting culture we have grown up with, and the media and fashion industries’ portrayals of a particular body type are some of the biggest failings that women are dealt by modern western culture, in my opinion. It has caused countless physical and emotional issues for women for decades.
We diet, we lose some weight, we gain it back again or we starve ourselves, developing an unhealthy relationship with that which should nurture us. It is a vicious cycle that affects our mental health, our digestive health and our hormonal health.
Self-love, self-acceptance, and prioritising health, rather than physical appearance, are much better ideals and concepts for our girls and young women to be growing up with. When you begin to love and accept yourself, as you are right now, it becomes so much easier to make the right food choices for your body, and for your hormones!
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Read other articles by Preeti Chedda here.