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~Seek first to understand, then be understood~
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I have a "friend" who shows up once a month. She turns my world upside down, over and over again.
I am a good person, caring and sweet, but when she comes to visit, I could rip off your head.
She takes no prisoners, foul words she does spout, I try to keep the words in, she lets them come out.
People don't understand me, or what this is about, to have this creature inside my head.
I despise who I am, half of the time, I feel sorry for my daughter, family and friends.
There's no way to describe it, for those who don't know, it's a living nightmare, she really needs to go.
~Neysia Manor, Rest in Peace

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

PMDD and Nutrition

Okay, after all those posts telling you what you need to avoid, I promised to take a break and tell you some of the good and positive things you can do to lessen and help manage your PMDD. Because there is no cure for PMDD. Get that straight in your head right now--no matter what anybody on the internet or on television promises you. There is no cure. Period. You can make it go away for a while by either masking it with a various assortment of drugs, or by making positive lifestyle changes and treating yourself the way you deserve to be treated.

But if you don’t keep up indefinitely whichever path you choose, day in and day out, the PMDD will be back—and most times with a vengeance.

One of the best natural things you can do to manage your PMDD (in addition to reducing the stress in your life, exercising regularly, and getting enough rest) is to pay very close attention to what you eat. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition. Any body responds well to good nutrition, but a woman with PMDD in particular needs to pay attention to her nutritional needs if she wants to keep her hormones functioning at optimal levels and in balance.

Recently I attempted a ten-day detoxification fast, with the goal of ridding my body of accumulated toxins, re-setting my metabolism, and re-establishing my hormonal balance. I went eight days without solid food, and would have gone longer, if I didn’t have a four-hour community service commitment I had to go to. I wasn’t sure what would be involved, or if we would be eating, and I decided I’d rather go off the fast than have to explain what I was doing and why I wasn’t eating. People can be so touchy about that, if they offer you food and you don’t eat it.

I needed a day to switch gears before going on this outing with my church, so I stopped the fast at the end of day eight.

While I was on the fast, I felt great hormonally. Never better. No mood swings, lots of energy, an amazing clarity of mind, and all sorts of warm, fuzzy feelings of well-being.

I went off the fast, and the very next day, my PMDD returned. My first thought was it was because of something I was eating. My best guess is that something is meat and dairy products. Why? Because unless you go specifically hunting for sources of meat and dairy products that are antibiotic and hormone-free…which I do most of the time but didn’t take the time to last week…you’re going to get some of those substances in the meat and dairy products you consume (including cheese, cream, butter, yogurt and milk), and it’s going to affect your own delicate hormonal balance.

And boy, did it, in my case. Why? Because those first couple of days off the fast, I treated myself to a big bowl of cottage cheese and tomatoes, using the last home-grown tomatoes of the season. I’ve always considered real cottage cheese (the full fat kind, not that low fat stuff) more tasty than ice cream…so it’s my special treat, and when the home grown tomatoes are in season…I can’t resist.

But after two days of feeling like my old PMDD self, I started resisting. And when I started resisting, I started feeling better. Then, two days ago, I went on a road trip, where for the most part, only fast food and vending machine food was available. The next morning, I couldn’t seem to wake up, couldn’t get my day started at all. I was in a total fog and couldn’t shake it to save myself.

The culprits? Coffee, cheese and crackers, and (even though the fast food place said it was home made) a very tasty Sloppy Joe.

So in an attempt to revive the energy and clarity of my food fast, I went back to the basics—oatmeal, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts and other whole foods. I ended the day by making a very tasty and filling vegetable soup, with no interest at all in my usual accompanying cheese and crackers.

Today I feel 100% better. We’ll see what happens in the days to come as I continue to eat no meat that isn’t hormone-free, no cheese, and drink no milk.

I’m not saying this will work for you, but it’s definitely something I am willing to try, after having felt so good and energetic those eight days I didn’t eat or drink any of the above. The only things I actually missed in those eight days were fruit, salad, and nuts.

How interesting, that given the chance to strip things down to the bare bones, by eating no solid food for over a week, that the things my body craved were all good and healthy foods. Proof positive that if you just listen to your body--not your emotions, as in emotional eating--it will steer you to the right kinds of fuel. The only reason I went after the cottage cheese, was because I knew my days for eating the last fresh tomatoes of the season were limited.

I also found it interesting that while fasting I didn’t give chocolate a second thought. Wanting some never entered my mind. I also had absolutely no desire to eat anything made with refined sugar or flour—and still don’t. It totally amazes me. The fast was drastic, yes, but in a sense it did reset my hunger mechanisms. And I did ease into it by eating mostly salads for a few days before I began.

Although yesterday (with my PMDD going on) I did crave chocolate, but since the fast I find I don’t care for the taste of solid chocolate, and so instead of eating my regular brand of chocolate, I switched to drinking more of the healthy Mocha Cappuccino drink I have recommended before, from Bolthouse Farms.

It’s doing the trick, so as long as that works, I am a happy camper.

But, like I said, this is only what is working for me, and I am, as always, a work in progress. According to Ann Louise Gittleman, who wrote Super Nutrition for Women: A Food-Wise Guide for Health, Beauty, Energy and Immunity, particularly good nutritional choices for women who have PMDD include:

Blackstrap molasses
Sea vegetables (check out your local health foods store)
Sesame Seeds
Sunflower seeds
Whole brown rice

What about Vitamins and Supplements?

Supplements can help, but should never replace food. The body works best with healthy food. By healthy I mean whole, natural, nutrient-rich foods. Not processed foods of any kind (like my beloved cheese). Vitamin and mineral supplementation can quickly send you into imbalance if you use them to try to make up for eating a nutrient-poor diet—meaning lots of processed food and fast food on the run--especially if you take more of any vitamin or mineral than you need.

More does not equal better in most, if not all cases of vitamin supplementation.

Beyond a daily pharmaceutical grade multi-vitamin (not just something off the shelf at your local discount store—sorry!), or daily pharmaceutical grade multi-vitamin pack, and some added calcium and magnesium, maybe some extra vitamin C during cold season, you need to get most, if not all of your PMDD nutritional needs from the foods you eat. The benefit of a daily multi-vitamin is to offset the daily depletion of nutrients from our bodies due to environmental pollutants such as smoke, carbon dioxide, pesticides, chemical-based cleaners, perfumes, deodorizers, air fresheners and the like, and medications of any kind, over the counter or prescription, including birth control pills (which cause deficiencies of folic acid and vitamins B 6 and B 12—both integral to mood stability).

In short, with all the toxins we are exposed to daily, a good multi-vitamin just keeps you from ending your day in the negative column. It gives you a good baseline to start from, but you still need to eat right to feel strong and healthy.

Our bodies know best. We need to learn to listen to them carefully and treat them well, so that they can do the same in return. Only when we choose to take charge of our health--when we decide to take control of our diets and make good and healthy food choices--will we have any hope of getting off the PMDD Not-So-Merry-go-round, and finally managing our unruly hormones.

Short version: Eat whole, natural foods as close to the source as possible; go organic whenever you can afford it; avoid all processed foods and as many medications as you can, both over the counter and prescription; take a daily pharmaceutical grade multi-vitamin or vitamin pack; make sure you get some added calcium and magnesium; minimize the environmental toxins in your home and work space; exercise regularly; get plenty of rest; and de-stress your life as much as possible.

A more detailed breakdown of each of these items will appear in blog posts to come.


  1. What did u drink when u were fasting? Did u also do a colon cleanse? Pls explain what exactly u did (drinking, taking, doing, etc)?
    Thanks (=

  2. Hi, Diane,

    I did the Master Cleanse. It's tough, and it's not for everyone, but it is do-able. I did it in preparation for moving into a whole foods diet. Not sure I'm ready to go into a completely raw diet yet. As a vehicle for changing your diet, however, I'd recommend it. To simply lose weight, I would not. That is a side benefit, but not the goal. I purchased all my ingredients separately at my local Whole Foods Co-op, although I understand there are kits for sale on the internet. I did this, because I didn't know how long I would last. A PMDD woman needs to be very careful about maintaining a healthy level of carb consumption, because if carb consumption dips too low, your serotonin levels will fall and you can go into an episode of PMDD. I found that the Master Cleanse did indeed provide enough carbs to prevent that from happening, and besides occasional bouts of hunger, felt great inside and out.

    Here are some links.



    If you have more specific questions, you can contact me at info(at)livingwithpmdd.com.