Many women all over the world tend to have different food cravings during that time of the month. Some will crave salty and spicy foods, while others will yearn for sweet stuff like chocolate and ice cream. In some countries, people have different beliefs about giving in to these uncontrollable food desires. For example, in China, the assumption is that you should not give in to an ice cream craving during that time of the month. It’s believed that if you do, you increase the intensity of your cramps. Such beliefs have baffled women from other countries who see nothing wrong with enjoying some ice cream during their period. That said, the question remains; can you eat ice cream on your period?
This read will explore the association between ice cream consumption and menstruation. We will discuss the effects of eating ice cream on menstrual cramps. Additionally, we posit the question of whether eating ice cream is healthy or not. Well what do you say, let us get started!
Is Eating Ice Cream On Your Period Bad?
Avoiding an ice cream craving while on your period can sometimes be impossible. Chances are that you will get yourself some ice cream at least a day or two while you are menstruating. Noting this, over time, many theories have been developed about whether or not you should eat ice cream during your period.
There is a theory that you should not eat sweet stuff while menstruating because it may contribute to bloating and weight gain. Another theory suggests that you should not eat ice cream as it may increase the intensity of your cramps.
You may have heard of the theory that satisfying your sweet tooth during your menstruation is not bad but instead soothing and relaxing. But which theory is factual, and which is concocted? Let us evaluate each of these theories.
Can Eating Ice Cream While On Your Period Promote Weight Gain?
Yes, it can. Bear in mind that ice cream is packed with sugar and calories (3). Ice cream has high sugar content, meaning it is one of the foods you should be careful with.
It can promote weight gain because it is pretty easy to consume more calories from ice cream and surpass your daily calorie limit. When you exceed this limit, you end up with a calorie surplus, contributing to weight gain.
Instead of such foodstuffs, Medical News Today advises you to focus on eating a healthy and balanced diet (6). Such a diet should consist of the following foods:
Fruits And Vegetables
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is non-fried, oily fish. According to WebMD, such fish are rich in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids with numerous health benefits. For example, they may help curb joint pain and stiffness (5).
However, not every fish is healthy as some contain high mercury content. The best fish types to consume for omega-3 fatty acids include herring, marlin, anchovies, sardines, salmon, sturgeon, lake trout, tuna, and bluefish (5).
Besides fish, you can also get these fatty acids from walnuts, algal oil, soybean, canola oil, flaxseed, chia seeds, and fortified foods like yogurts and juices (6).
Foods Rich In Iron
Menstruation makes the iron levels of women significantly dip due to blood loss. Therefore, it can be potentially harmful and may lead to the iron deficiency anemia, especially in women with heavy blood flows.
Iron deficiency anemia refers to a condition where blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells, which are vital for carrying oxygen to your body tissues (4). Instead of consuming ice cream, you are advised to eat more foods rich in iron. Some of these foods include red meat, seafood, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, and peas. The list also contains dried fruits like apricots and raisins and iron-fortified cereals, pastas, and breads (4).
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Does Ice Cream Increase The Intensity Of Your Menstrual Cramps?
No, it does not. But, first, let us break down the menstrual cramps dilema. Menstrual cramps refer to the painful sensations that women experience before and during their period (6). The intensity of the pain ranges from dull, severe to extreme.
It also affects either the lower abdomen or, the lower back, or both (6). Typically, the pain is more severe in 10% of menstruating women during the first three days (6). Pain that only results from menstruation is known as primary dysmenorrhea (6).
However, menstruating women may experience what is known as secondary dysmenorrhea. This refers to period pain that results from a medical problem, such as pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, or uterine fibroids (6).
There is a theory that consuming various types of foods like ice cream may affect the intensity of your cramps. Luckily, this is just a myth. Experts acknowledge that prostaglandin F (PGF) is the primary contributor to dysmenorrhea (1). It causes uterine contractions, and the intensity of the menstrual cramps is proportionate to the prostaglandin released (1). Therefore, the more prostaglandin that is released, the more intense your menstrual cramps become.
Can Eating Ice Cream On Your Period Reduce Cramps?
There is no association between ice cream consumption and reduced menstrual cramps. However, experts have discovered that some foods may help in reducing menstrual cramps and pain. As mentioned earlier, these include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
Talk to your dietitian and healthcare provider to get help on the best diet plan to follow while on your period. For example, you may think that some foods are okay, yet they may worsen your period symptoms. Additionally, they may also result in bloating or inflammation.
Some scientifically proven methods you can implement to help reduce period cramps include (2):
The Heat Technique
This technique entails placing a hot water bottle or heating pad against your abdomen. The heat will help your abdominal muscles relax and relieve your cramps (2). It may also help reduce the discomfort. For example, if you are experiencing pain in your lower back, place the heating pad on your lower back.
We understand that exercise may be the last thing that a woman on her period would feel like doing. However, it is an approved method to help in reducing menstrual pain. Be very cautious when picking the routine because strenuous exercises may do more harm than good.
For this reason, you are advised to seek the help of your fitness instructor when crafting an exercise program to perform during your period. Some of the recommended exercises include brisk walks and yoga (2).
You can also reduce menstrual cramps by getting yourself a massage over your abdomen. According to Medical News Today, the massage may relax the pelvic muscles and help alleviate the cramps (2).
The Bottom Line
Can you eat ice cream on your period? Food experts say you should eat foods rich in sugar with moderation during menstruation. However, if menstruating women crave ice cream, they are advised to talk to a professional about healthy substitutes.
Do not be fooled into believing that eating ice cream during that time of the month can reduce your menstrual cramps or pain. There are no studies that prove this belief. However, various studies prove that eating ice cream can contribute to weight gain and bloating due to the high calories and sugar content.
Instead of eating ice cream, menstruating women are advised to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, iron and increase their fruits and vegetable intake. These food sources may help reduce menstrual pain and cramps.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on for decision-making. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- Dysmenorrhea (2021, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Home remedies for menstrual cramp relief (2019, medicalnewstoday.com)
- How many calories do you need? (2017, medicalnewstoday.com)
- Iron deficiency anemia (2019, mayoclinic.org)
- The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids (2021, webmd.com)
- What to know about menstrual cramps (2020, medicalnewstoday.com)