Whole30 and PMS


As the title suggests, this is going to be a pretty girly post. I plan to talk about things like birth control, cramps, and maybe even tampons. So if that sort of thing scares you, I invite you to not read any further… and also to maybe revisit some middle school health curriculum. But there’s your warning, anyway.

Yesterday I mentioned that last Friday was potentially the hungriest day of my life. I’m pretty sure that this had to do with PMS, and although I did have to squelch some particularly aggressive nachos cravings, overall I was just ravenously hungry. It was not so bad. Today, however, is a very different story.

When I did my first Whole30 I didn’t really run into this problem for a few reasons. One, the first time we did Whole30 we actually only lasted 3 weeks, and none of those days coincided with PMS. Two, now that I’m in the 4th week of Whole30 I am realizing that the first 3 weeks aren’t really where your willpower is tested–it’s the fourth week. The week when you are staring at Day 30 on the calendar, and the little devil on your shoulder is saying, “Oh come on, you made it this far, you should just stop now, what are you trying to prove?!” while the little angel on your other shoulder tries to butt in with, “No no! You’ve already made it this far! Don’t give up now!” I know that some of the rest of you are experiencing this as well–but unfortunately the little devil and the little angel are nothing compared to PMS.

The last reason that I didn’t run into this problem last time is because in November, I was on birth control and had been for about 7 years. However, right around the end of the year I experienced some minor health problems that led me to decide to stop taking birth control. While the minor health problems are gone, I had really forgotten what a normal period is like, because I hadn’t really had one since high school. I had barely experienced any cravings, cramping, or general misery since I went on birth control, and in the past few months as my normal hormones have come back on track, it has been pretty rough.

Today I am tired and lethargic, as is expected with PMS. I am craving salt and grease, and/or sugar and flour. If someone walked into my house right now with an order of fries and a chocolate shake, I would probably marry them on the spot.

But, I know that I can’t do that. So instead, here is what I have been doing:

  • Tea. So much tea. For some reason, the hot liquid seems to quiet even my seriously unrelated cravings for a little while.
  • Bone broth. Same reason as tea, except as a bonus it’s also kind of salty.
  • Pickles. No, I am not pregnant. But these salty, crunchy little miracles are a pretty good stand-in for french fries.
  • Coconut butter. It’s kinda sweet. It’s kinda creamy. It’s kinda working.
  • Just so much food. If I am almost uncomfortably full at all times, it keeps me from really craving anything. And I’m hoping it’s worth it to eat an extra 2000 calories of good stuff rather than fall off the Whole30 wagon and start shoving nachos in my face. Mmm nachos…

Things I tried that did not work:

  • Banana + coconut water + cacao powder smoothie. I thought it would be like a chocolate banana smoothie, but it was not. In fact, it was horrible. Turns out unsweetened chocolate is not the same thing as a chocolate milkshake.
  • Salted nuts. Usually these work for me, but I think I am experiencing a bit of palate fatigue with almonds and cashews. So no dice.

I am also considering giving myself the night off from CrossFit. I am still in that stage where I can’t decide if working out is going to help by taking my mind off it, or hurt because I am feeling so lethargic that I might just crash and burn. I know the best rule is to just listen to your body, but if your body is being a moody little brat, that’s easier said than done.

I need some help here, people. What do you do to stay on track when PMS grabs your craving steering wheel?

  • Staci

    I had to go to Crossfit. It was the only place I could go that would keep my mind, and body, preoccupied enough to forget about craving anything. But, listen to your body if it’s super fatigued. Maybe some yoga???

    • clairechapman

      Yoga is a great idea! I ended up going to CrossFit because it was a bodyweight movement day but I think if it had been heavy lifting some yoga would have been an awesome alternative, I will def keep that in mind for next time (hopefully there isn’t a next time, but you know…).

  • Shilpa

    First off, I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who gets RAVENOUSLY hungry before my period – phew! It’s as if I can’t actually get full…

    Also, for me, CrossFit helps a bunch with PMS. Even if I feel terrible, it still somehow helps me feel better. Oh, and red raspberry leaf tea – totally helps…good luck! I’m out here on the East Coast currently stuffing my face with carrots!

    • clairechapman

      Haha I had a bunch of carrots today too :) This was my first time being ridiculously, ridiculously hungry, but something tells me it will not be the last time!

  • Chelsie

    I feel EXACTLY the same way today. Right down to the recently stopping birth control. Real periods are a whole other monster. I’m having an easy day with lots of tea and yoga. Hopefully it helps.

    • clairechapman

      Seriously! I used to scoff at women for always complaining about PMS, always thinking Oh come on it’s not that bad! Pretty sure If I had remembered that real periods were like this I’m pretty sure I would have reconsidered stopping birth control. Ugh.

  • Lisa

    Go to CrossFit. Even if it is a horrible workout, you will feel much better after you do it! This is one time that you should not listen to your body. It is trying to trick you.

    • Jenn Ryberg

      I completely agree with this. When I feel like crap, I always make myself go (unless a fever or migraine) and I ALWAYS feel better after. Go! And, great job on the whole30!

      • clairechapman

        You’re right–I went and I definitely feel better! It always feels like it can go either way and yet it almost always is a good thing, the only times I regret going is if I have a cough or a headache. Thanks for the advice :)

    • clairechapman

      Lol you’re right, my body is definitely trying to make up excuses :) I did end up going and it felt good–not great, but I think it’s definitely what I needed!

  • Gabby

    I felt EXACTLY the same way on my 4th week of Whole 30. I was just so sick of eating – I literally couldn’t eat enough food (I ended up losing 8lbs of muscle) and I just wanted all the salty things, especially nachos. I did a lot of tea & pickles too – just anything with copious amount of salty/briney goodness. You’re almost done though – you got this!

    • clairechapman

      Thanks Gabby! Today has been a very very hungry day. I rewarded myself tonight with some bison ribs from a Native American restaurant down the street, they grill them and they are SO tasty. Of course I can’t have the blueberry glaze that usually comes with them or the amazing fry bread that they are served over… but hey, a big slab of meat still felt like a pretty good option :)

  • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ NJ Paleo

    I find that the only way I don’t bite the heads off everyone in my family is to go work out when I have PMS. Somehow the endorphins from the workout turn me into a close approximation of a decent human being again instead of some hormone-crazed she-beast. And as for cravings…..I’m not too good with those either, but sometimes sliced pickles with some avocado and salsa help me thru. I know, weird…..

    • clairechapman

      Haha I don’t think that’s weird at all, I put salsa on EVERYTHING when I’m having cravings, and pickles always sound delicious. I’m lucky I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth but man I crave salt like my life depends on it.

      • http://www.njpaleorunner.wordpress.com/ NJ Paleo

        I am a huge salt-craver too. And I sweat like a freakin’ pig. I think the 2 things are related?

  • http://twitter.com/fatgirlhealthy Fat Girl Healthy

    I agree with the others; Crossfit will make you feel better. I always stick to my regular workouts during my period because it seems to release the hormonal madness I experience…although they are often crap workouts.

    • clairechapman

      Yeah I guess a crap workout is better than no workout! I did end up going tonight after all and felt ok, I definitely feel better than I did before I went though!

  • M. Love

    GO WOD!! It always helps me. I just went off BC about 4 almost 5 months ago due to some health issues and totally can relate to this post. WOD’ing will definitely help :)

    • clairechapman

      Thanks! I took your advice and decided to go for it, and it was a little rough but I definitely feel better now! Although I could still go for some nachos ;)

  • Lisa

    I’m in the same boat. Stopped birth control after 10 years and have CF and Paleo. When I have PMS I try making kale chips with salt, or siracha. When I’m having a sugar craving I make frozen fruit smoothie with peach/mango/a banana/strawberries/blueberries, some oj, almond milk and a scoop of protein powder and a tablespoon of coconut oil to keep the cravings away. It works for me, am staying paleo too. Drink two if its bad :)

    • Lisa

      Also, to WOD during that heavy time for me is bad. I am already drained and swollen. I eat well and take a rest day or two. Sleep is key, extra sleep is even better during hell week.

      • clairechapman

        Oh man that smoothie sounds amazing. I’ve never thought of adding coconut oil to a smoothie but I am def going to try it! And an early bedtime is also on the schedule for sure!

  • http://twitter.com/winetoweights Jennifer

    I used to do the shot for birth control which was lovely since I would have a period once every three months, if at all.. there were some spotty issues in between, but no cramps, no issues.
    Then my Dr told me I need to stop because of bone density issues and now I’m on the ring. with a monthly horrible period. Working out seems to have helped somewhat and eating cleaner seems to make it not as bad, but I do usually get one miserable day or horrible cramping and cravings.
    I somewhat “control” my period with the timing of the ring, so it’s usually a Friday-Tuesday period, with the worst days on the weekend when I let myself cheat anyway..

    No real advice for you.. you’re a strong girl, you only have a week left! :)

  • http://www.journeyofadreamer.com/ Courtney

    I’m on Mirena so I don’t have horrible periods – just an occasional few days where I want to kill all the things. This weekend was it for me. Saturday was just horrid. All I wanted was ice cream. and to cry. Working out helps me usually. We are SO close to being done. and I can’t wait. ha.

  • http://fitorama.wordpress.com/ Lauren Lever

    When I did Whole30, my monthly visitor came like 2 weeks early! I know, TMI, but I hear that can happen with low carb diets, kinda crazy huh?

  • Elizabeth

    You can do it girl!!! i’m in the same boat this week….I, like one of the lady’s that commented, use the Mirena so all i get are the symptoms….I drink a lot of green tea and water and take one extra strength tylenol and two ibuprofen when i start feeling like all i want to do is curl up in the bed with my heating pad and within 30 minutes i can function again!! I agree with the other comments to do your WOD or at least do something….It always makes me feel better.. :)

  • Samara

    I usually drink a LOT of water, with lemon or without, and as you have mentioned, Tea, plus grab a 85% chocolate bar… for some reason it does the trick but its not sweet enough to make me want to eat the entire thing! So, did you end up doing the Crossfit? Good for you if you did… my PMS rarely takes over (yes, I am lucky) but when it does there is definitely no gym time for me!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed

    My period doesn’t really affect me that much (sorry haha). But I am craving some “treats” so I’m cooking up a storm this weekend. I do love pickles as a salty snack… I also recommend stuffed olives (stuffed with garlic, or I just found ones stuffed with almonds). I’ve been trying new types of nuts too.
    Almost there, stay strong :)

  • Kelli

    ha exactly how I am feeling today! OMG I do not know how I will get throught the day. I think I will try some of your tips though. Thanks

  • Whole30Crazy

    I find mashed sweet potatoes mixed with full fat canned coconut milk are effective during PMS. I also like bacon when I just need that salty fatty evil flavor ;)


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