According to women’s health expert Marla Ahlgrimm, Dr. Katharina Dalton’s name is strongly associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS), as she coined the phrase in London, England in the 1950’s. “As both a women’s health pioneer and a doctor, she was the first in the world to identify this cycle of monthly symptoms,” states pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm. “Her book, Once a Month, set the standard for PMS studies around the world.”
Back to the basics
Agreeing with Dr. Dalton, Marla Ahlgrimm says that a diet emphasizing complex carbohydrate snacks every 3 hours is absolutely essential to manage fluctuations in blood sugar. Adrenalin is known to be released when blood sugar levels dip causing anxiety, irritability, mood swings, cravings for sweets, and fluid retention. Dr. Dalton believed that progesterone levels were related to PMS, but Marla Ahlgrimm, author of Self Help for Premenstrual Syndrome, also notes that her most recent findings suggest that the real problem is the effect of low blood sugar (glucose) levels on the progesterone receptor. As reported by Marla Ahlgrimm, progesterone molecules in the blood bind with progesterone receptors and are then metabolized.
Three-hour starchy diet
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, it is important for women with PMS to eat 6 small meals a day, emphasizing complex carbohydrates, to stabilize blood sugar levels. Women with PMS often crave sweets and chocolate premenstrually which should be avoided as they can cause blood sugar levels to rise rapidly and fall, making PMS symptoms more intense.
Dr. Dalton referred specifically to “starchy foods” and not just carbohydrates in general, points out Marla Ahlgrimm, since carbohydrates include simple sugars, which can cause a roller coaster effect on blood sugar levels. Women with PMS frequently binge on sugary snacks and beverages before menstruation. Unfortunately these cravings create a self-induced hormone imbalance. The starches recommended by Dr. Dalton, says Marla Ahlgrimm, are “complex carbohydrates” such as popcorn and whole grain products.
Women should not see considerable weight gain if they eat a balanced diet, split between six snacks rather than three regular meals. Actually, according to Marla Ahlgrimm, eating smaller meals and healthier foods may help relieve water retention and stop bloating which will lead to minimal weight gain and possibly even weight loss.
Pharmacist Marla Ahlgrimm notes that these recommendations are substantiated in a report by Dr. Dalton and her daughter, Wendy M. Holton (Stress Medicine, Vol. 8:61-65,1992)
As witnessed by Marla Ahlgrimm, co-founder of Madison Pharmacy Associates, many women notice positive results when they adhere to a low blood sugar diet. She offers the following sample menu to use as a guideline; you may substitute other nutritional foods you enjoy.
Early Morning Snack: (6:00AM) ½ c. low-fat yogurt – plain yogurt may be flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or fruit.
Breakfast: (7:00AM) 1 c. whole grain cereal, ½ c. milk, slice of cantaloupe, herb tea
Snack: (8:30 AM) ½ c. low-fat cottage cheese
Snack II: (10:00AM) ½ celery stalk filled with peanut butter (no sugar added)
Lunch: Open face sandwich of broiled tomato and low-fat cheese – with 1 slice whole grain bread, leafy green salad with oil and vinegar-based stress. Dr. Ahlgrimm also recommends trying balsamic vinegar for a more intense flavor and safflower for its essential fatty acids.
Afternoon Snack: (2:00PM) Raw carrots of cauliflower
Afternoon Snack II: (4:00PM) ¼ c. soy nuts or other plain nuts or seeds whole wheat crackers, rice cakes, or plain popcorn
Dinner: (6:00PM) Broiled fish or chicken with lemon and pepper, steamed broccoli with lemon, ½ baked potato, wax beans.
Bedtime Snack: ½ c. low-fat yogurt – plain yogurt may be flavored with vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or fruit.
According to Marla Ahlgrimm, the following foods are recommended: A diet filled with a balance of lean-cut meats, low-fat dairy products, vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruit* is essential in gaining control over your PMS symptoms.
* Moderate amounts of fruit, as it is high in sugar. Best eaten with small amounts of protein or complex carbohydrates. As an example, half a banana with three whole grain crackers.
Marla Ahlgrimm says that foods to avoid include: Pre-packaged meats high in sodium, fatty cheeses, breads – other than whole grain – Jelly, molasses and spread able jams, caffeine, and foods like cake and cookies.
Marla Ahlgrimm says that the occasional piece of chocolate or glass of wine is great for keeping spirits high. Controlling your PMS, notes Marla Ahlgrimm, simply means to enjoy these things in moderation, not that they are completely forbidden! Marla Ahlgrimm adds that it is important to limit them though, especially in the two weeks before your period. If you do give in to these cravings occasionally, make sure to have some other food in your stomach first to avoid a drop in blood sugar.
For more information, visit Marla Ahlgrimm at http://marlaahlgrimm.com