Craving before Periods
A ravenous appetite right before a period is one of the most common PMS symptoms most individuals experience. Intense craving for chocolates, baked food and salty snacks is one of the ways to know your period is on its way. What are the reasons for these cravings? Is it normal to have food cravings before periods? And, how can you resist these cravings that can only end up in added calories? These are some of the questions we have tried answering for you. Fluctuating hormones and serotonin levels during a menstrual cycle seem to be a reason for period craving. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), a more severe version of PMS, may also include compulsive eating and food cravings before periods.
Blood sugar levels might drop as a result of hormonal fluctuations, leading to sugar cravings. Serotonin levels — the 'feel good' chemical in the brain — are also lower at this time. Before your period, changes in estrogen and progesterone levels trigger cravings for high-carb and sweet foods. It's possible that your impulse to eat everything isn't just due to hormones. Binge eating can also help you deal with the feelings that come with the premenstrual part of your cycle. When you eat starchy foods and sweets, your body produces serotonin that boosts your mood.
Reasons for Period Craving
Period cravings are generally experienced 7-10 days before the period starts. Here are a few reasons why premenstrual cravings happen.
Hormonal Changes - The menstrual cycle brings about myriad changes in the body. During different stages of the cycle, the body undergoes hormonal and chemical changes. The desires associated with PMS are thought to be linked to dramatic spikes or dips in various hormones. The quantities of these hormones in your body determine whether you crave sugar, fat, or simple carbohydrates.
- Estrogen and Cortisol - The body controls estrogen and cortisol such that as estrogen rises or falls, cortisol too rises and falls with it. As a result, as estrogen levels rise in the weeks leading up to your period, cortisol levels rise as well. Cortisol, the hormone associated with stress, spikes, putting the body in a condition of high stress and, as a result, high metabolic stimulation. As a result, hunger is heightened, and you develop need for high-carbohydrate and high-fat foods.
- Serotonin - A neurotransmitter linked to positive feelings is thought to impact the types of food sought during PMS. Serotonin levels decline during PMS, leading to carbohydrate cravings. Carbohydrates are needed for serotonin production therefore your body tells you to consume to compensate for the drop. If your cortisol level is high and your serotonin level is low, you will most likely seek high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.
Blood Sugar - Cravings and agitation levels during PMS may be linked to blood sugar levels. After eating, low blood sugar, commonly known as hypoglycemia, causes a dip in blood sugar.
Emotional Cravings- Food serves as more than just a source of energy for our bodies. Because of our emotional tie to food, which is fueled by memories or sugar highs, we have a deeper and more difficult relationship with some foods.
While you may opt for certain foods as an emotional support, your cells and glands can actually develop appetites for other things. The energy necessary to repair the uterine lining and clear toxins built up during the previous month drives the intense desire for sweet foods, which explains why sugar and carb cravings are strongest during your period. Your cells, on the other hand, seek magnesium in the days after ovulation. Because cocoa beans contain a lot of it, the desire to consume chocolate increases dramatically.
Ways to Curb Period Food Cravings
While it may seem a herculean task to keep your hands off chocolates, chips and other junk foods, there are a few tips that can help you deal with period cravings.
To keep your blood sugar stable, and reduce mood swings and food cravings, eat fiber-rich meals like whole grain bread, pasta, and cereals. PMS-fighting B vitamins, thiamine, and riboflavin are also found in enriched whole grain products. Barley, brown rice, beans, and lentils are among other options to choose from.
Smaller, more frequent meals can decrease cravings by keeping blood sugar levels steady. Instead of three substantial meals a day, try eating six little ones. Alternatively, eat slightly less at each of your three meals, and add three light snacks.
If you have a chocolate craving, your magnesium levels may be low. Chocolate contains a lot of magnesium, but it's also a lot of fat. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, lentils, cashews, almonds, peanut butter, seeds, and healthy grains are all good sources of magnesium. If you're in need of a sugar boost, a piece of fruit will also help. Because dark chocolate contains less sugar than other types, it can help you consume fewer calories. Magnesium can aid with cramps, constipation, inconsistent sleep, anxiety, and headaches, among other things.
It's also vital to eat a high-protein breakfast, such as eggs, to keep you full for the first half of the day. Follow your natural hunger cues and eat when you're hungry, but not too much. You'll be less inclined to overeat when your hormones change if you consume nutritious proteins and fats in the days leading up to your period.
Adequate Workout – Any physical activity that gets your heart pumping will increase serotonin levels, reducing food cravings before periods, and other PMS symptoms such as exhaustion and despair. Increase your heart rate and lung function via brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, or swimming. On most days of the week, try to get in at least 30 minutes of exercise.
Vitamin D Intake - Sunlight aids in the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin levels and mood can be affected by a lack of sunlight, which can lead to an increase in appetite and desires. Increase your serotonin levels and decrease cravings by stepping into the outdoors.
It is totally normal to have food cravings before periods, as well as during periods. If you just can’t resist, always remember to eat in moderation. Keeping yourself well hydrated will also help in minerals reaching where they are needed to.