Tag Archives: menstrual cramps

Let’s Talk About Menstrual Cramps

I apologize to all the fellas out there, but this post will be about menstrual cramps. Why in the world do I want to talk about cramps? Because I had the worst cramps ever just this morning, that’s why! This post might be a little TMI and I do feel some embarrassment and shame in sharing this with you, but it was a learning experience for me that I wanted to share.

Before changing my diet, I would have a bad day here and there with my period. After the change in my diet, I didn’t have anything beyond minor discomfort and annoyance. Oh, nature, you scamp! Today, though, I thought I was going to die. I was brushing my teeth when all of a sudden, I broke out in a cold sweat, my legs started to ache, my hands got numb, and let’s not even talk about my uterus. Now, I suppose it’s possible that something else was going on with my body, but I’m 99% sure that this was a total menstrual issue.

I managed to get into bed and thought weird things like, “Ugh, this is punishment for eating non-vegan holiday desserts!” and “Maybe I need a steak!” and “Am I hungover? But I’m never hungover…” and “I wish I would just pass out.” and “I’m glad I’m at Mom’s house and I hope she gets home soon because I need my mommy!” Mostly, I was moaning in pain and whispering, “Help me!” but only the dog was home so I was out of luck for awhile. Mom finally did come to the rescue. She put a hot water bottle on my abdomen and I was relieved and resting almost instantly.

After more snooze time and some buttered toast, I hopped on the computer and quickly googled “vegan menstrual cramps” thinking that there might be some sort of vegan explanation for my sudden issue. I should have know that a vegan diet has actually been found to reduce pain and menstrual cramps. It is related to the amount of estrogen in our bodies: more estrogen in the body will likely result in more painful cramping and PMS symptoms. Vegan diets, because they are low in fat and high in fiber, help reduce estrogen levels and also helps promote estrogen elimination. Not only can this help reduce menstrual cramps and pain, it may also reduce cancer risk: estrogen helps promote the growth of cancer cells.

Next, I googled “vegan iron deficiency” just for some peace of mind even though I’m aware that one does notĀ need to eat steak for iron. Spinach is an outstanding iron source and far better for you in every way than beef. You would need 1700 calories of a sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron that’s in one cup of spinach. I’m usually really good about eating spinach regularly, but I’ve been bad about it lately. In general, I’ve been eating a lot of carbs, so I won’t surprised if I’m running low on iron at the moment.

On a somewhat related note, I’d like to talk about multivitamins. A month or two ago, I switched to a vitamin that is marketed as being vegan. It was kind of expensive, though, so I bought a bottle of the generic drug store vitamins that I used to take which I believe to be vegan even though it doesn’t specifically say so on the bottle. Anyway, I was surprised this morning to see that the vegan vitamin only had only a 10% daily value of iron while the other vitamin had 100%. The vegan vitamin was also comparatively low in calcium and a handful of other minerals. Hmmm.

Thanks for reading and tell me, vegans: what has been your experience with menstrual pain and cramps since changing your diet? And what are your thoughts on iron deficiency and multivitamins? What do you think caused my episode this morning? Lemme know in the comments! –Melissa

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Bitter Melon Salad!

Bitter melon or ampalaya is one of those weird ones, you guys, but I grew up eating it.

Bitter melon is not my favorite thing to eat. In fact, it’s because of its health benefits that I endure its bitter flavor: they don’t call it “bitter” because of its jealousy and resentment. Some of its heath benefits include: lowering insulin (which benefits those with diabetes) and killing bacteria and viruses. It also helps keep the blood clean and improves blood flow which means, for a woman, less painful menstrual cramps. BONUS: My dad grows it in the garden. He’s growing two kinds this year: the darker one that I used in this recipe, and a lighter and longer one shown below.

Christie posted a recipe for pakbet using bitter melon. Today, I’m opting for a simple and raw recipe. I made this when I was visiting Christie and Brent over the weekend. Brent unfortunately could not try it because of an allergy, but I am happy to say that this is Christie-approved!

Bitter Melon Salad

1 bitter melon
1/2 onion, diced
1 medium tomato, diced

First, slice the bitter melon in half, lengthwise. Then, degut it. I used a teaspoon to scoop out the guts.

Slice up the melon, toss it into a bowl, and add 2-3 tbsp of salt. Then add cold water to the bowl and let it soak for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, drain and rinse the bitter melon. Toss it into another bowl with the tomato and onion, add salt to taste (I suggest at least a teaspoon), mix it up, and eat it!

I spotted some strawberries in the fridge while the bitter melon was soaking and came up with a wacky idea: bitter melon salad with strawberry and onion!

OMG what a wonderful combination and no salt required! It has this great sweet explosion followed by bitter followed by sweet and the onion ties it all together. YUM YUM YUM.

Don’t be afraid of bitter melon! It has awesome health benefits. Visit the National Bitter Melon Council to learn more. I expect that both Christie and I will offer up more bitter melon recipes. I know I have a lot more to say about the magical ampalaya. In the meantime, be on the lookout and try it if you find it. –Melissa

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