The Definitive Guide to Paleo and PMS



Perhaps nothing is more complex and infuriating than hormones who aren’t playing nice. Women are subject to the cyclical tug of war that happens between the two dominant reproductive hormones, estrogen and progesterone, with others stepping in at various times of the menstrual cycle. While some women will never experience PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), hormone imbalances, or other similar issues, there are many who suffer on a regular basis. When hormones are not balanced, women will experience a wide range of symptoms and results, including but not limited to:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Acne
  • Weight gain
  • Bloating
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Digestive disturbances
  • Nausea
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Heartburn and acid reflux
  • Thyroid problems
  • Cramps
  • Back aches and pains

The symptoms aren’t limited, because unfortunately, some more serious consequences can result when estrogen and progesterone aren’t functioning in harmony. Infertility, miscarriage, cysts, and various other reproductive-related problems can result, which in many cases serve to perpetuate the continued cycle of hormonal imbalance.

Can You Balance Hormones With Food?


While I will be the first to tell you that a Paleo diet cannot fix all of your problems, the food that you eat can go a long way in heading down the right path to find answers. Inflammation, food sensitivity, and hormone disruptors can often be at the center of long-term hormone imbalance, and these are issues that can be at least partially resolved by dietary choices. A Paleo diet is, in most cases, extremely anti-inflammatory. It also eliminates many categories of food sensitivity (including grain, dairy, and food additives), and because Paleo-friendly food is not processed, hormone-disrupting ingredients are generally absent. Soy, for example, can be a problem for women with excess estrogen and when eaten in excess, can cause hormone imbalance or can be a thyroid hormone disruptor, particularly in women.

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, antioxidant fruits, proteins, omega-3s, and other protective fats is a surefire way to increase a woman’s fertility. Even if she doesn’t want to conceive, a woman is healthiest when her reproductive system is in the best working order — and that means hormone balance and harmony between estrogen and progesterone.

What Are the Best Foods for PMS?


Women can experience PMS for just a few days before their menstrual cycle begins, or for up to two full weeks. In cases of estrogen dominance, women tend to feel the full weight of PMS symptoms from just a few days after ovulation until a few days into the next menstrual cycle. That’s a long time to feel awful!

PMS can tend to bring on sugar and comfort food cravings, and it can be difficult to avoid food temptations when you’re feeling out of sorts, moody, sleep-deprived, and in pain. Choosing to eat the following foods instead of non-Paleo cravings can have a dramatic impact on overall physical wellness and mind/body health. These foods are great for PMS because of their high nutrient content: vitamins and minerals that help to promote muscle relaxation, nervous system support, digestive balance, and hormone production.

  • Dark chocolate (80% or more, organic)
  • Ginger (tea, raw, or pickled)
  • Turmeric
  • Blueberries
  • Bone broth
  • Eggs
  • Beets
  • Salmon
  • Beef
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, walnuts)

10 Recipes for Hormone Balance and PMS


For some great recipes incorporating these PMS-friendly ingredients, try any of the following. And because I know that when you’re PMSing, you really just want chocolate and sweets and comforting foods, I’ve included some awesome Paleo dessert recipes that won’t throw your hormones off kilter. These recipes will satisfy your cravings without throwing your diet out of whack and without contributing to hormone balance problems.

No-Bake Edible Cookie Dough


Recipe from PaleoHacks

Chocolate Coconut Banana Muffins


Recipe from PaleoPlan

Ginger Brownies


Recipe from PaleoPlan

Blueberry Coconut Cereal


Recipe from PaleoPlan

Beet Brownies


Recipe from PaleoHacks

Golden Turmeric Latte


Recipe from PaleoHacks

Paleo Blueberry Muffins


Recipe from PaleoHacks

Smoked Salmon Cucumber Bites with Cashew Cream Cheese


Recipe from PaleoPlan

Grain-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


Recipe from PaleoPlan

Berries with Balsamic Vinegar and Almonds


Recipe from PaleoPlan