Have you ever felt those cravings hit you hard when you're on your period? Are those PMS pangs for a bar of Snickers or large pizzas really different from the cravings you experience at any other time of the month? Well, the answer is yes. During your menstrual cycle, the body goes through physiological changes and your hormones are out of whack that causes you to crave certain nutrients.
Food cravings are just one of the many symptoms of PMS. This luteal phase of the cycle begins with the release of an egg at ovulation and ends with the start of your period. The symptoms usually revolve around the third day of menstruation. Researchers have documented more than 150 symptoms of PMS, ranging from physical to emotional to behavioral. And food cravings are the most commonly reported behavioral PMS symptoms.
Researchers have also found that food cravings during periods can occur even in normal, healthy women without a diagnosis of PMS or other disorders.
What Causes Food Cravings during Periods?
Research data confirms that women tend to eat more during the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle as compared to the follicular phase. With or without the diagnosis of PMS, this increased food intake can be around 500 extra calories per day.
Experts say that during periods or pregnancy, the endogenous opioid peptides (EOPs) are more active Although the theory is not yet proven, they believe that with the presence of these EOPs causes you to have more cravings.
Another idea is that women unconsciously use food as pharmacological therapy. Studies show that women in their luteal phase crave more carbohydrates. Eating carbs turn up the serotonin levels and neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, which contributes to a general sense of well-being and happiness.
Another possible explanation for food cravings during periods is physical and psychological comfort. Food can play a sensory role in eliminating any uncomfortable feeling of hunger while tasting good and feeling pleasant to eat. The comfort of food helps mitigate unpleasant feelings experienced with PMS.
Some researchers also suggest that food cravings are regulated by hormones. Scientists believe that women tend to eat more when estrogen levels are low and progesterone levels are high – as occurs during the luteal phase.
Let us now move on step further and dig deep into the top period cravings.
Top Period Cravings and How to Deal with Them
Here are the most common reasons for period cravings along with some recommendations to help deal with them.
A woman’s need for Magnesium increases between ovulation and menstruation as the body looks to replenish its stores by craving high Magnesium foods. And cocoa beans are high in Magnesium which is why a lot of women usually crave chocolates close to their periods. Try having dark chocolates that are minimally processed to curb your cravings. Some other foods that are high in Magnesium are green veggies or oats. Magnesium intake can decrease some menstrual symptoms like cramping, constipation, insomnia, headaches, and anxiety.
2. Sugar & Carbohydrates
During menstruation, women shed a lining of the uterus and cleanse toxins that may have been ignored during the month prior. This requires a lot of energy, hence, you find hunger increasing premenstrually. Listen to your hunger signals and give your body the nourishment it is asking. Always eat when you feel hungry and make sure to consume enough protein and healthy fats a week before your period to reduce sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
3. Salt & Water
The adrenal glands govern a lot of hormonal reactions in our body and as hormone levels change, the adrenal glands are put to work. Minerals are vital for the functioning of these glands. When you have a mineral deficiency you crave salty foods. It is important that you choose your salts carefully. You can go for sea salt, sea vegetables, and water-rich vegetables that are high in the full spectrum of minerals that our body needs. And try to avoid refined salt, canned foods, and packaged goods.
Also, drink lots of water for these minerals to flow through the body and effectively be used in hormonal reactions. Consume 6-10 glasses of water daily, and choose the healthy salty foods when you crave salt.
4.Vitamin B and D
Some women might crave more food just before their period because they need more B vitamins like thiamine (vitamin B1) and riboflavin (vitamin B2). Upping the intake of these vitamins can help with PMS symptoms. So, consider getting beans, nuts, grains and nutritional yeast for vitamin B1 and green veggies like broccoli, spinach, kale and asparagus for vitamin B2.
Also, vitamin D is proved super for making us happy, so 20 minutes of the sun during the day, mushrooms or vitamin D supplements is all it takes.
How can You Manage the Monthly Period Cravings?
Track your food
Keep a diary and track everything you eat. Keeping a count of the calorie intake might help you stop the binge. Also, try to eat healthily and cut back on foods containing refined sugars.
Say no to junk food. Fresh home-cooked food has the power to carry nature's intelligence to your body. These foods are called triptighna, which means they are satisfying and nourishing for your body.
Stress can cause emotional eating. Exercising, practicing relaxation techniques, and maintaining a positive outlook can help manage stress and reduce your food cravings during periods.
If you want to reduce the irritability, bloating, and cramping every month, here is a list of 7 foods that can help you fight PMS.
Wild Salmon - more Vitamin D
Broccoli - rich in calcium and vitamins A, C, B6, and E
Dark Chocolates - rich in Magnesium
Pumpkin Seeds - more Magnesium
Eggs - a good source of vitamins D, B6, and E
Peanuts and peanut butter - best foods for vitamin B6 and Magnesium
Bananas - rich in vitamin B6 and potassium
Chamomile tea - Relieves muscle spasms and reduce the severity of menstrual cramps
Changing levels of hormones often cause food cravings during periods or a general increase in appetite for a woman. Remember that aching for all those carbs, fats, and sugary snacks in your refrigerator before and during your periods is completely normal. It is just a weird way your body responds to internal hormonal changes. &Me’s Period Chocolates are the perfect answer to your period cravings. Indulge now with &Me no sugar dark chocolates, specifically designed to take the edge off period cravings and mood swings with 30% goodness of vitamins, minerals, and herbs essential for women during their periods!. Available in two irrepressible flavours - almonds & sea salt and cranberry. So kick back, grab a slice of warm buttery bread, some chamomile tea, no sugar dark chocolates and relax. Just focus on the tips mentioned in this article and you will be ready for your next month’s cycle.