Any gal who鈥檚 suffers from severe PMS symptoms or painful聽periods knows how truly AWFUL that time of the month can be. Sleepless nights, migraines, chocolate cake聽cravings, backaches and full body fatigue are ultra-common. Then there are the absolutely terrible cramps that can make it painful to even stand up (never mind to even attempt PMS yoga) before Aunt Flo finally arrives. All of this makes me *seriously* dread the last two weeks of the month.

Despite the fact that the pills and natural remedies I鈥檝e tried have pretty much聽failed to make my symptoms go away, I still experiment with possible solutions when I hear about them. I recently got hold of a super straightforward PMS eating plan made up of eight different dos and dont鈥檚聽from Manhattan-based Dr. Christopher Calapai, and with nothing to lose, I decided聽to try it out. Here鈥檚 how it went.

woman with green smoothie

DAY聽1

I actually start experiencing PMS symptoms about two full weeks before I get my period (ugh) but started this diet a week before, for the sake of the experiment. Today, I鈥檓 already feeling super tired, having trouble sleeping and feel sore enough all over that taking a walk can be miserable. As much as I LOVE salad (it鈥檚 my favorite food!) I can鈥檛 stand looking at one 鈥斅燼ll I want to do is make my fave pasta with sea salt and olive oil and park it on the couch to eat and sleep.

Work is tricky too. I find that I鈥檓 so tired and distracted that writing just doesn鈥檛 come to me like it normally does and that my usually quick creative brain is much slower to find functional and cool-looking solutions that delight my web production clients. For this reason, I usually end up drinking way more coffee than usual and working from a cafe聽simply so I don鈥檛 fall asleep. The struggle is real.

DAY聽2

Not only am I feeling tired and irritable, but I have a killer headache that鈥檚 probably part hormonal and part need for my usual extra large dose of caffeine. Reading through the PMS dos and don鈥檛s, I learn that caffeine is a major don鈥檛, as it actually *causes*聽worse cramps because 鈥測our blood vessels contract when caffeine is present in your body.鈥 Dr. Calapai also says that adding caffeine will make it more difficult for your body to retain water, which can cause stomach issues. Eek! Though I feel like I need my coffee more than ever during this tough week, I vow to cut it out so I can see聽if it truly makes a difference for me.

Not a coffee drinker? Wine lovers take note too! Drinking alcohol (even lightly) during PMS week is another don鈥檛 as it can actually worsen feelings of depression and moodiness. And if that鈥檚 not enough of a reason to put down the glass, a study published by the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology also found that regular drinking聽can increase the length and severity of cramps during PMS.聽This is totally new news to me and definitely noted.

DAYS 3-5

greek yogurt and berries

Now that I鈥檝e cut coffee, I feel ready to continue through Dr. Calapai鈥檚 suggestions by cutting out excessive salt and upping my water intake. Sea salt is a go-to for my fave pasta (and now I want it more than ever) but I stop adding it to the dish. I also add 1-2 bananas into my daily diet, one of which I eat in the morning mixed with eggs for a protein pancake and the other with almond butter for a snack or after dinner dessert. According to Dr. Calapai, who speaks about natural sleep disturbances that occur just before your period starts, bananas have heaps of melatonin 鈥斅燼 sleep-aid hormone that鈥檚 secreted at night and helps your bod regulate its natural rhythms.

The other addition I make to my regular meals is incorporating more calcium. I don鈥檛 like to drink milk so I add more Greek yogurt to the mix, mixing it with berries and nuts to starve off hunger and hopefully reap the benefits. Dr. Calapai explains why more calcium during PMS week is a do, writing, 鈥淪ome studies have shown that calcium levels are lower in women with PMS, and that those with the highest intake of calcium reported the mildest PMS symptoms.鈥 Pretty remarkable!

DAY 6

Though I still feel tired and like I want to eat every cookie and chocolate cake under the sun, I鈥檓 definitely sleeping better than I usually do. It鈥檚 typical for me to wake up like clockwork around 3am every night the week before my period and it hasn鈥檛 happened once this week. I鈥檓 also taking Bar Method class on the days that I teach and though it鈥檚 ultra-painful, it doesn鈥檛 seem as unbearable as it usually does. My back definitely feels better than normal given the time of the month too.

green smoothie and vegetables

Though Dr. Calapai says it鈥檚 totes聽okay to eat dark chocolate when experiencing PMS, I know myself well enough to know that if I touch it during this time, I鈥檒l definitely have a hard time hitting the brakes. For a sweet treat that I can enjoy in moderation while avoiding spiked sugar levels by ODing on dark chocolate,聽I snack on a few different low-sugar/high protein snack bars throughout the week. It鈥檚 not the same thing, but it helps take the edge off.

I鈥檓 also forcing myself to consume聽lots of darker greens this week, like kale salad, broccoli and green smoothies 鈥斅爀ven though I *really* don鈥檛 want them. A do on the PMS eating plan,聽the greens also have calcium聽and are said to help with iron deficiency, one of the main culprits behind lightheadedness and nausea. I can鈥檛 argue with the fact that I鈥檓 thankfully not experiencing any of those day-altering symptoms.

DAY 7

My period comes right when I expect it to and though I definitely don鈥檛 feel great, the pain is nowhere near as bad as it always聽is.聽To be perfectly honest, my period is usually so bad that I completely schedule social plans and client project work around it, full-well knowing how sick I鈥檒l feel.

The next few days follow, and I even feel well and energetic enough to exercise 鈥斅爏omething I鈥檝e *never* been able to muster up the strength for before. I must admit, my mind鈥檚 blown that, though my period wasn鈥檛 painless, the week didn鈥檛 suck the life out of me as it usually does or leave me curled up in bed for a couple of days straight. I鈥檒l definitely give it a go again next month, probably starting even earlier to see if that helps more.

If you weren鈥檛 keeping track, here鈥檚 the breakdown:

Do:聽Drink more water, eat bananas, get more calcium, eat dark chocolate, eat darker greens

Don鈥檛: Drink coffee, drink聽alcohol, consume excessive salt

Have you found a remedy that helps banish bad PMS symptoms? Share it with us on Twitter @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)