Does Caffeine Help Period Cramps? The Best (And Worst!) Food To Eat On Your Period

Our go-to ingredients for your teen's easy-going period.

If your teen has period pain, you know what a literal pain it is. They might feel a little bloated and crampy, or might be doubled over once a month, missing school. But did you know that what they eat and drink (we're looking at you, coffee) during and before their period can make or break their cramps? 

It’s true—and what they don’t eat is just as important as what they do. This means having a teensy bit of self-control, which is easier said than done once those cravings hit. Are they always going to get it right? Definitely not, and that’s okay. Learning what works for them is a process, and you've both got plenty of time. The first step is learning: what foods make their period a rollercoaster and which ones get rid of their cramps? 

Take a look at this roundup of the best (and worst) food to eat on your period and then get curious—see for yourself what works for them.

Which foods help relieve menstrual cramps?

You’re going to notice a pattern here. The foods that help with period cramps have two superpowers: 

1) they’re anti-inflammatory, and 

2) they help to lower estrogen levels. 

So what’s this about? Basically, period pain is caused by two things: inflammation and estrogen in the body. And certain foods are just really good at making these things go away. For the best results, add these foods to your teen's full-time diet before your period begins.

Shop Reusable, Leakproof Underwear Now!


Okay, this may seem a little obvious. But hear us out: good old H20 is hands down the simplest thing anyone can do to make a period a happy one. Why? Because drinking water makes you less bloated and helps with brain and muscle power. 

Not to mention, increasing water intake can help with a slew of body concerns. For starters, it can make skin as soft as a newborn baby's. If brain fog is something your teen suffers from, they should drink more water every day. They may notice a boost in their overall health, and when it comes to their period, they're more likely to be alert with fewer aches and less painful cramps. 

Pro-tip: Did you know everyone needs an 8 eight-ounce glasses of water each day? Make it fun by adding fruit, cucumber or mint—we love tossing orange slices into ours for an increase in Vitamin D—and get a cool, funky water bottle for your child that they can decorate with stickers. This will help them keep track of their intake.

eat berries on your period


If they're looking to calm their period cramps even more, fruit (specifically blueberries and blackberries) can help fight off those uterus ninjas.

We all know that being on your period makes people feel like they're on a roller coaster, and in fact, they are—a hormone roller coaster. If your teen has ever started randomly crying, you know what we’re talking about. Berries have antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that even this bumpy ride out.

Pro-tip: Make it fun by adding berries on top of their cereal or making a smoothie with chocolate protein powder (to feed that chocolate-eating monster that lives inside of them, of course).

lentils help period cramps

Lentils and Salmon

Introducing the new power couple of your teen's uterus: iron-rich lentils and omega-3 rich salmon. This duo lowers inflammation in the body, and some studies even suggest that taking fish oil on its own prevents pain better than ibuprofen. Talk about relieving menstrual cramps!

These anti inflammatory foods help in more ways than one. During your child's period, their iron levels take a hit, but some iron-rich proteins only make period symptoms worse, such as red meat (more on that later). But with fatty fish and delicious lentils, you just might see a boost in their energy levels.

Pro-tip: A lentil salad topped with a piece of salmon makes for a delicious summertime salad. Change up the dressing to keep things interesting!

Green Veggies

Want to really treat their uterus to the ultimate spa day? Add cruciferous vegetables to that lentil and salmon salad. Cruciferous vegetables are dark leafy greens like kale, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, collards, radishes and brussels sprouts. 

They’re nutritional powerhouses, truly. Packed with tons of vitamins, Vitamins A and C being among them, adding these vegetables to your kid's diet lowers inflammation and gives their body the fiber it needs to move excess estrogen out of the body. In other words: green veggies can seriously help with severe cramps.

There’s another reason why dark leafy greens are so good for period pain: Many of them contain more calcium than dairy, which not only helps with menstrual cramps but other emotional PMS symptoms (pre-menstrual syndrome), as well as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. And because they’re so densely packed with nutrients, even small portions will make them feel better.

Pro-tip: Steam or sauté kale with your teen's favorite seasonings (we love soy sauce and ground ginger) or have your cauliflower go undercover in a smoothie. Steam up a chopped head of cauliflower, throw it in the freezer, then toss it in the blender with berries. They won’t even know it’s there.

Further reading: Can you get TSS from pads?

Whole Grains

Did you know that what kind of grains your child eats matter too? Whole grains help to get rid of estrogen because they’re rich in fiber. Plus they have potassium, magnesium and iron, all minerals the uterus needs to take a chill pill.  

And they’re way better for you in general than refined grains that we find in our bread, cereal, crackers and bagels.  

Here’s how to do this: Use brown rice instead of white rice. Switch out white bread for whole wheat. Use whole-grain pasta. Easy peasy!

Pro-tip: Keep some popcorn kernels on hand for when the cravings hit. Believe it or not, popcorn is a whole grain! But you want to serve homemade popcorn, not the stuff from the store which is loaded with salt and sugar. 

Which brings us to our next point…

Avoid painful menstrual cramps by not eating these foods

Okay, so we’ve gone over what foods help reduce period cramps. But just as important are what foods actually cause menstrual cramps or make cramps worse. Eating the wrong foods during a period can make symptoms worse: bloating, mood swings and decreased energy levels are all influenced by what we eat and drink.

No one needs that, so at the very least, try and wean your teen off the following food groups when that time of the month is coming up.

pretty pink coffee


Salty Foods 

Want to know how to get rid of cramps for your child? Skip the salty snacks during their period. Too much salt causes bloating which actually makes cramps worse. On one hand, salt is an essential mineral that we need to live healthy lives. It’s okay to use it when you’re cooking. On the other hand, most junk food is loaded with salt. It’s just too much for our bodies to process.

You might notice that by cutting back on salty foods, your teen's bloating and cramps both go down. What a relief!

Pro-tip: If your teen gives into a salty craving (which happens to the best of us) just make sure they drink lots of water and eat fruits and veggies. This will help you keep salt levels down.

candy and knixteen pouch

Caffeine Intake

If your teen is not a functioning human before their first cup of coffee, we feel you. But caffeine intake during a period can actually make period cramps worse. If they can’t go without it, limiting intake of coffee, soft drinks and certain teas will still make a difference. Who knows, this might even help their sleep, too!

Coffee is inflammatory. It slows the flow of blood in the veins (but not your uterus) and the vessels that feed the uterus tighten, which means cramp-central. Ouch. 

Pro-tip: Try replacing coffee with caffeine-free herbal tea or lower-caffeinated tea varieties like certain types of green tea or white tea (black tea also has lower caffeine relative to coffee). Both have less caffeine than coffee, but they also have anti-inflammatory properties. That’s a win-win! Or if your teen is someone who loves the taste more than anything, try switching to decaf coffee for a less caffeinated, yet still delicious morning drink.


Ah, sugar. Only the best thing to be invented in the history of humanity. Is it addictive? Yes. Is it the tastiest ingredient ever? Yes. Does it make cramps way worse than they need to be? Also yes. 

Sugar is inflammatory with a capital I. This is a huge one to avoid if menstrual cramps are a problem for your child. It also makes people super bloated, messes with hormone levels and, yes, it increases estrogen levels. Like, a lot. 

When it comes to menstrual cramps, sugar is deserving of the ultimate side-eye.

Pro-tip: Not many people realize that fruit juice is just as bad as drinking a soda, as far as sugar levels are concerned. When fruit is juiced, it is separated from the fiber of the fruit and that means when you drink it, the body can’t process it slowly. This is the meaning of a sugar rush. 

Do your uterus a favor and serve fruit whole, rather than drinking juice.

 Red Meat

Red meat really isn’t the best thing to be putting in the body in general, but especially when someone's on their period. Red meat has no fiber, which means that estrogen has no way out of the body, and just gets recycled, causing cramps. 

Plus, eating a lot of red meat can cause break outs more intensely before a period and can cause major bloating and breast tenderness. 

Pro-tip: Give your teen's cravings something to talk about with a veggie burger over greens or a salmon burger on a whole wheat bun. Yum.

Food Cravings and Premenstrual Syndrome

Menstruators are known to experience food cravings a week or two before their medium flow period starts. These are associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), in which fluctuating hormones and serotonin levels can cause a drop in blood sugar, which leads to sugar cravings.

Our advice? Figure out what works for your teen.

Everybody is different, and everyone experiences their menstrual cycle differently. What works for someone else might look different for your child. (For example, some people prefer using reusable pads and others like period underwear!) Take your time and experiment with these foods and others.  

Life doesn’t stop for your teen's uterus (wouldn’t it be cool if it did?) so try not to be too rigid with them—if they need to grab that cup of coffee, make it up with a healthy meal and plenty of water for lunch. They can’t do any better than their best, and there's no reason to make their period harder than it is.

But do go the extra mile to balance the not-so-helpful things with the helpful things and you might just find that they've found a ticket to a happy, pain-free period.

Shop Kt by Knix Leakproof Underwear Today!

Get our latests posts straight to your inbox.