Craving for different foods, when you are on your period or craving before your period (one or two weeks) is a commonly observed thing among women. You crave for all the sugary and fatty foods that you usually avoid for keeping fit and healthy. To refrain yourself from grabbing all that caloric stuff and carbs would not be that easy unless you know what causes those cravings at that particular time. Let’s find out the main cravings and their reasons to help you stick to your regular, healthy dietary intake throughout the menstrual cycle.
Is It Normal to Have Cravings Before Period?
Menstrual cycle is the time when our body experiences a lot of hormonal (estrogen and progesterone levels) changes. It’s the time when a hormone ‘cortisol’, which causes stress, increases, and women experience mood swings. While ‘serotonin’ a neurotransmitter that is also known as a feel-good hormone, decreases. This decline in serotonin level causes our body to demand carbs. Carbs not only boost the serotonin level, making you feel happy but it also controls cortisol production, causing reduction in stress.
Note: Exposure to sunlight also helps increasing the serotonin levels in the body.
What to do?
While your brain craves for carb-laden foods, you prefer picking the items like chocolate or potato chips. You can control the situation by opting for healthy carbs for cravings before period. That may include fruits, yogurt, brown rice and multigrain bread. In the second place, increase your intake of protein and healthy fats, one or two weeks before menstruation. It would help in controlling your cravings for sweet and fatty foods later on.
Cravings for Sugary Food
Low progesterone and high estrogen levels are the main causes of fluctuation in blood sugar level. Drop in blood sugar level causes the girls to crave for sweet and fatty foods.
What to do?
Intake of sweets can help normalizing the blood sugar level temporarily. For long term solution, delete the edible items like processed foods, refined carbohydrate and most of all sugar. This would definitely be helpful in lessening your cravings for the future menstrual cycles. Following a proper diet plan is another basic requirement. Starting from breakfast, a mixture of plain yogurt, oats and raspberries would boost your blood sugar level. For the other two meals, prefer non-starchy veggies. Use fish, nuts or chicken to overcome protein deficiency. Besides, make some fatty items part of your meals. These could include olive oil and avocado. All of these dietary changes are really helpful in blood sugar stabilization.
Note: This hormonal change in body may cause a woman to intake 500 extra calories per day.
Cravings for Salty Food
The adrenal glands of our body are functioned to deal with various hormonal changes. At the time of hormonal fluctuations, these adrenal glands are constantly at work. To work properly, these glands require minerals, particularly, during the time of ovulation and menstruation. This whole situation may cause mineral’s deficiency in body. And you would have salty food cravings before period.
What to do?
To remove that mineral deficiency, you should opt for sea salt, sea vegetables and vegetables enriched with water. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water (6 to 10 glasses daily). As without water, those minerals would not travel through your body effectively.
Note: Make sure you are not taking refined salt as it does not fulfil the requirements of minerals in our body.
Cravings for Chocolate
If chocolate is the food that you crave the most before your period, you may be having magnesium deficiency. Magnesium is one abundant mineral that functions for energy production in our body. And during this whole menstrual process, our body seeks energy. Chocolate is considered to be enriched with magnesium. But not every chocolate can help in getting over that craving.
What to do?
For this ravenous appetite, a dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) can be helpful. With about 70% of cocoa, a dark chocolate would be helpful in controlling your sugar intake and balancing your magnesium level. Secondly, a magnesium supplement can also be overcome this craving (not without consulting your doctor). Other natural sources of magnesium include; cashew, almond, oats, green vegetables, peanut butter, brown rice, sunflower seeds and cocoa beans.
Note: Magnesium is a mineral that helps dealing with various menstrual symptoms like cramping, soreness of breasts, anxiety, headache, insomnia, irregular bowel movements and water retention.
Other Ways to Deal with PMS
Menstruation is the period when your body is functioning constantly. Instead of using pain killers to disturb the natural process of cramping, you better have some rest and let the body perform naturally.
Instead of having three bigger meals in a day, opt for six small meals after every three hours. It would not only regulate the blood sugar level but would also help getting over those cravings before periods.
Use fiber-rich foods like whole-grain bread and cereals. Such foods are complex carbs that are not easily absorbed by the body (Starchy vegetables are another good source of complex carbs). As a result, you have less cravings.
Increase your protein intake (chicken, turkey, fish). Again, it’s not easily digestible, so you have a fuller stomach for a longer time.
Indulging in some physical activity boosts endorphins in your body. Endorphins reduce hunger. Activities like walking, cleaning, gentle exercise or yoga can be tried.
Do you eat more when you’re on your period?
Feeling hungry, when you are on your period has nothing abnormal. This is the time of month when your body uses more calories. When you have more calories, the body would naturally indulge in the practice of burning them. The more calories the body burns, the more you are going to feel hungry.