Research has shown that the typical woman with PMS consumes a less-than-ideal diet, high in refined carbohydrates, fat, sugar, alcohol and caffeine, all of which have been linked to specific PMS symptoms (Alternative Medicine Review, 1997, vol. 2, no. 1). Recognizing how certain food triggers work in the body may be the key to eliminating your own specific PMS profile. Keep a food diary to discover how the following substances affect your cycle.

Alcohol and caffeine consumption compromise the liver's ability to properly process hormones, since the liver must metabolize both. As a stimulant, caffeine can also aggravate mood swings, irritability and anxiety.

Sugar and refined carbohydrates wreak havoc on blood sugar and insulin levels, resulting in fatigue, mood swings, anxiety and irritability.

Processed meats and dairy products are laden with estrogen and other hormones, contributing to the estrogen dominance that causes nearly all PMS symptoms. In addition, meat is high in arachidonic acid, a contributor to inflammation, menstrual cramping, breast tenderness and migraines.

Sodium consumption, when excessive, can contribute to bloating and breast tenderness.