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Foods to Avoid During Menstruation

Menstruation is a natural process that occurs in the reproductive cycle of women, and it can bring about various physical and emotional changes. Some women experience cravings or changes in appetite during this time, leading to questions about what foods are best to consume and what to avoid. While there are no hard and fast rules about foods to avoid during menstruation, certain dietary choices may help manage hormonal fluctuations and ease discomfort. Let's explore some foods that some women may consider avoiding during their periods, along with the underlying reasons and potential benefits.

  • Processed Foods and Sugary Snacks: During menstruation, hormonal fluctuations can affect mood and energy levels. Many women experience cravings for sugary and processed foods due to changes in serotonin levels. However, consuming excessive sugary snacks can lead to rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, exacerbating mood swings and fatigue. It is advisable to limit processed foods and opt for healthier alternatives, such as fresh fruits, nuts, or whole-grain snacks.
  • High-sodium Foods: Some women may experience bloating and water retention during menstruation, which can be exacerbated by consuming high-sodium foods. Salty foods can lead to fluid retention, making bloating and discomfort more pronounced. Reducing salt intake during menstruation may help alleviate these symptoms. Instead, incorporate potassium-rich foods like bananas and avocados, which can counteract the effects of sodium and support fluid balance.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant found in coffee, tea, and certain energy drinks. While some women find that caffeine provides a temporary energy boost, excessive consumption can lead to increased anxiety and exacerbate menstrual symptoms like breast tenderness and irritability. Additionally, caffeine can interfere with sleep quality, which is essential for overall well-being during menstruation. Limiting caffeine intake or opting for decaffeinated beverages may be beneficial for some women.
  • Fatty and Fried Foods: Fatty and fried foods can trigger inflammation in the body, leading to increased prostaglandin production. Prostaglandins are hormone-like substances that can cause more intense uterine contractions and lead to more severe menstrual cramps. Choosing healthier cooking methods, such as baking, steaming, or grilling, and incorporating omega-3 fatty acids from sources like salmon, chia seeds, and walnuts can help reduce inflammation and ease cramping.
  • Dairy Products: Some women may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or bloating during menstruation, and dairy products can exacerbate these symptoms. Lactose, a sugar found in dairy, can be difficult to digest for some individuals, leading to gas and bloating. Choosing lactose-free alternatives or incorporating non-dairy sources of calcium, like fortified plant-based milk, can help manage these issues.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol consumption can dehydrate the body and may worsen bloating and cramping during menstruation. Moreover, alcohol can interfere with sleep and mood, which can already be affected by hormonal fluctuations. Reducing or avoiding alcohol during menstruation may contribute to overall well-being.
  • Raw Cruciferous Vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are nutrient-dense and offer various health benefits. However, some women may experience increased gas and bloating when consuming these vegetables raw, especially during menstruation when the digestive system is more sensitive. Lightly steaming or cooking these vegetables can make them easier to digest.

It is essential to note that everyone's body is unique, and individual responses to different foods can vary. While some women may benefit from avoiding certain foods during menstruation, others may not experience any adverse effects. Keeping a food journal and noting how specific foods make you feel during your period can help identify personal triggers.

In conclusion, while there are no strict rules about foods to avoid during menstruation, making mindful dietary choices can help manage hormonal fluctuations and ease discomfort. Reducing processed and sugary snacks, salty foods, caffeine, fatty and fried foods, dairy products, alcohol, and raw cruciferous vegetables may contribute to a more comfortable menstruation experience for some women. As always, listening to your body and making informed dietary decisions based on individual needs is essential for overall health and well-being during menstruation.


  • Chen, J., et al. (2016). Nutritional Intake and Premenstrual Syndrome: A Systematic Review. Nutrients, 8(4), 200.
  • George, A., et al. (2015). A review of the evidence for the effects of total dietary fat, saturated, monounsaturated and n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids on vascular function, endothelial progenitor cells and microparticles. British Journal of Nutrition, 113(4), 485-498.
  • National Institutes of Health. (2019). Lactose Intolerance.
  • Templeman, C., et al. (2020). Food, caffeine, and alcohol: Their influence on premenstrual distress and dysmenorrhea. Journal of Women's Health, 29(3), 403-408.
  • Whitney, E., & Rolfes, S. R. (2018). Understanding Nutrition (15th ed.). Cengage Learning.

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