Most of us have experienced bloating related to PMS. If you haven’t, you are extremely lucky. Depending on your birth control method, age and hormones, the effects of PMS can vary a great deal. As if the pain that accompanies a period weren’t enough, we have the added torture of water retention to deal with, making that monthly visitor more unpleasant than a know-it-all mother-in-law. Thanks to WebMD, there are a few things we can do to help alleviate bloating.

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Reduce your salt intake: Your body may be holding onto water (AKA bloating) because of the amount of salt you are taking in. Try using spices instead if you find your meal lacks flavor.

Avoid alcohol and caffeine: While many of us need to wake up with a steaming cup of joe, or unwind with a glass of wine before bed, some studies show that these two things are related to breast tenderness and bloating. Instead, try drinking more water. While that may seem counter-active, staying hydrated actually helps your body to release excess water. If you find that it’s hard for you to stay away from sugary or caffeinated drinks, try out some of these flavored waters.

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Load up on fruits, veggies, nuts and whole grains: Eating healthier foods packed with vitamins and antioxidants has been shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS. By making the bulk of your diet rely on fruits, veggies, nuts and of course, the ever-important whole grains, you can naturally prevent bloating before it begins and even help to alleviate cramping.

Up your Calcium intake: Studies show that more calcium may help the brain to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms, which lead to the mood swings PMS can cause. Dairy can also decrease hunger, cravings and belly bloat, when eaten in moderate amounts. To get more calcium in your diet, try low-fat milk and yogurt, as well as enriched orange juice. If you find it difficult to get enough calcium due to an aversion to dairy, consider taking a daily supplement instead.

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Exercise: Keeping yourself stress free and in shape, is a great way to tone down the PMS symptoms including bloating. It’s also shown that obese women experience more PMS symptoms, so try to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Need some workout ideas to shake things up? Try some of these great exercise routines.

While nothing can alleviate PMS bloating completely, flowing these tips can make the monthly symptoms much more manageable. For more information on PMS and how to recognize and treat the symptoms, click here.