The basic advice I always give girls and women about their periods, to minimize PMS and cramps, is to
2) eat fiber
3) sleep, and
4) drink lots of water.
You want to make it easy for your body to process the hormones. Movement helps the lymphatic system, fiber, water and sleep all let the liver do its job. For many people, this will cover their cycle, and then we fine tune iron, protein, or whatever else they want to improve. For others, this isn't enough to eliminate cramps, and they need to take it up a level. For example:
1. About a week before your period, and again a couple of days before your period, do a really long, intense workout. I'm talking over an hour and a half of walking, biking, weights, swimming, etc,.. or some combination. And drink a lot of water before and after. You will feel tapped out, which is the point. You're going for serious lymphatic and liver stimulation.
2. Incorporate more vegetables, nuts and whole grains to increase your minerals and fiber in the last 10 days of your cycle. This can help a lot with reducing inflammation and processing hormones. You don't have to cook more, just cut vegetables for snacks.
3. Look at your foods for additives and "flavors", which are usually just another form of MSG. I realize this may sound burdensome and neurotic, but I noticed years ago that eating processed and packaged foods made me have cramps, while eating my regular made-from-scratch foods did not. MSG + dairy, like in Yoplait, seems to very much trigger it. Full-fat plain greek yogurt does not seem to. Also you can control the sweetness . when you mix in jam or berries.
4. Add more turmeric, ginger, fennel, dill, basil, etc,... Ginger and dill at high enough doses both provide pain relief, so you could start loading up a day or two before your period.
5. Consider using KT tape around your abdomen. Read about it online, and my teenager said it helped.
6. Consider doing something extra fun and undemanding, like a craft or watching a movie after that heavy exercise in #1. Stand up, nature shows, something light - perhaps watch 10 minutes to lighten the mood. Call a friend, take a long bath, stretch, cuddle the dog while you stare at the wall, whatever helps you check out of regular life and enjoy the moment.
Any other tips and tricks to share? Favorite ways to relax?